A single tear was glistening in the corner of her eye, falling carelessly onto her dress. She felt warm and cold at the same time, as if an icy hand was slowly touching her heart, but her entire body was fighting it with fire. She refused to lose hope, but it was getting harder every day.
Yet, somehow, today felt different. Exactly one year ago they married and Emma felt as if he would finally wake up, just for her. Since his hunting accident two weeks ago Mr. Knightly had been vast asleep and doctor Perry told her to be prepared for the worst, but Emma couldn’t let go. Her finger gently stroked his beloved cheekbones and felt through his beautiful hair. She couldn’t look at his eyes, because they reminded her of the fact that they might never open again.
He tried to say something, very softly and Emma drew nearer to listen: ‘Where am I? Who are you?’. Just as fast as she floated up, Emma came plummeting down.
‘You had a hunting accident two weeks ago, you’re in our house’, she said almost crying.
‘What do you mean our house? I would never marry, not while I am in love with …’
‘In love with whom?’
‘I can’t remember.’
Emma felt as if the world was tipping over and she couldn’t keep herself standing any longer. ‘I … I have to go’, she whispered and barely making it safely through the door, she fainted. She woke up in her own room, with Mrs. Weston sitting next to her.
‘What happened?’ she asked, hoping that everything was just a bad dream and Mr. Knightley would come through the door any second with his big smile and a tray full of breakfast.
‘Mr. Knightley woke up, but he can’t remember anything, he says he only remembers these feelings.’
‘So he can’t remember we married?’
‘I am afraid not.’
Emma remained silent for a long while, comforted by Mrs. Weston’s presence, but her mind was racing. She could never live without Mr. Knightley, so she had only one option. ‘I have to make him fall in love with me again!’. She said this out loud and Mrs. Weston looked at her.
‘How on earth will you accomplish that? The poor soul thinks he is in love with someone else, who could never love him back.’
Emma sighed, ‘Yes, he seems to have forgotten what happened between us.’
‘Only his ardent feeling of love has remained, how romantic!’, Mrs. Weston replied.
‘I … I came to see if you were well’, she stuttered.
‘Quite well, thank you.’, he looked at her pensively.
‘I thought … perhaps … you would like to take a stroll with me?’ Emma asked nervously.
‘I am very sorry’, he answered, ‘Miss Hawkins already asked me.’ Emma suddenly noticed he was fully dressed and sitting at the edge of his bed. She couldn’t believe it. What was Mrs. Elton up to? Of course she wasn’t Mrs. Elton anymore, but to Emma she could never be anything but that. Mr. Elton died on his way to London, attacked on the road for his money. Emma was still standing there, unable to answer. Mr. Knightley started to feel uncomfortable.
‘Look, I know everyone keeps telling me that we are married, but I can’t remember. Miss Hawkins told me she had some information people were keeping from me, so I agreed to walk with her.’ Emma knew Mrs. Elton was up to something, but she couldn’t say anything. She just silently left the room.
Mr. Knightley and Miss Hawkins were walking around the substantial grounds of Donwell Abbey. ‘Miss Hawkins, what is this information you were talking about?’.
‘Oh heavens dear, I hardly know where to begin …’
Mr. Knightley started to realize that she was a very talkative woman and it annoyed him. ‘Why not at the beginning?’, he replied dryly.
‘Oh, why yes, the beginning. So, it is true that you married Miss Woodhouse, or Mrs. Knightley as we must call her now. However, you were never in love with her. You had to marry her, because everyone thought it proper!’ she claimed triumphantly.
‘Then who did I love?’, Mr. Knightley asked anxiously.
‘Why me of course!’ she cried out, as if it were the most logical thing in the world to be in love with her. Mr. Knightley thought a lot of things, but most clearly he thought this: He was most certainly not in love with this babbling, full-of-herself, nonsensical girl. He was certain he could never have been in love with her. She must be lying, but why? He decided to play dumb a little while longer, in order to find out her motive.
‘Didn’t I like Miss Woodhouse at all?’
‘Oh no! You hated her! She’s a gossiping, headless girl, who does nothing but couple!’
Mr. Knightley got a shock. ‘She always coupled?’ he muttered, he didn’t have to hear the answer though. He remembered everything. His sweet, dear Emma! He ran back to the house without saying goodbye and found Emma on the floor of her room crying. He took her into his arms and whispered ‘I know’.
(c) Evelien Dierckx