Donna looked up to the sky and let the rain wash away her tears. She stood on the bridge gazing but seeing nothing. The river below wound its way through the park, the raindrops making ripples on an otherwise placid surface, covering the passage of her tears . Those few who were in the park didn't see the lady on the bridge even though their gazes may have swept over her. Like her, they were lost in their own thoughts and treasured the solitude afforded by the rainy park.
Why, she wondered, had this happened to her? Why had the town turned its collective back on her in her time of need? Even her friends had turned her away when she went to them for solace. She had no one and nothing to live for. The thought of jumping from the bridge made her cry harder. She didn't want her life to end. But what was there to live for?
She thought back to that night, the night when her lover of many years had perished in the fire at their townhouse. He had died a hero having saved her by dropping her from the window into the waiting arms of those below. As she fell, her nightdress had fluttered up exposing her most private secret to public view - and exposed her to the ridicule and derision she now lived with on a daily basis. She wondered what she could have done differently over the course of her life that this embarrassment might have been avoided. And she wondered at the way her lover was now reviled. How had she allowed her secret to tarnish his once-unmatched reputation and character?
That thought brought her rambling thoughts to an abrupt halt. She could not allow who she was to further harm his reputation. She could not wallow in self-pity while her lover was dragged through the mud. She stood straight and composed herself, preparing for the drive back through town to her country house. She set a stately pace as she walked away from the bridge holding the train of her dress up and clear of the muddy path.
Arriving at the parking lot, relief flooded through her on seeing her carriage still there and unmolested. Even though one of her the servants, who had all escaped the fire unscathed, could have come with her to safeguard the carriage, she had opted to make this trip alone. She unlocked the carriage and set the autodriver to take her home. She was aware of the looks she got during the trip up High Street but chose to ignore them. There was little anyone could do to hurt her further.
Once home and in her rooms, she stripped off her sodden dress and stepped into a hot shower. The hot water coursed down her body, relaxing and warming her, soothing her heart and soul. Warm, calm and clean, she put on a robe and sat at her desk. Turning on the console, she opened a new document and formulated a plan for redeeming her lover and herself.
Step 1, she typed, was to contact a public relations firm to see how to fix the situation. Perhaps a low-key campaign reminding everyone of all the good her lover had done.
Step 2 would be to start to do good works herself. Perhaps a foundation or two with the goal of helping the town's poor and marginalized.
Step 3, she went on, was to carry on with a life appropriate for a lady mourning the loss of a loved one. Merchants, she was sure, would not turn away any of her money. And as for the town wags, she was as free to ignore them and their hurtful slurs as they were to express their opinions.
Step 4, the final step, was to rebuild the townhouse. Living in the country was all well and good for health reasons but it became a bit of a drag for engaging in everyday life. The money the work would inject into the local economy would also be welcomed, she was sure.
Satisfied with her work so far, she put in a request for an appointment with Pearson and Pearson, a PR firm in the city. If anyone could recover the situation, it would be them. She hoped for a prompt reply so that her current enthusiasm and energy could carry through to doing the actual work. She wasn't confident, though, given that the call didn't go through until three on Friday afternoon
Her next query was to a local legal firm about setting up foundations to do charitable work in the township. John Botham and Partners was the biggest and best of the local legal firms. She hoped they would have a solicitor free to take on the work. It needed to be done efficiently and effectively for maximum impact.
After initiating the first two steps in her plan, she called for her maid, Stephanie. Together they looked through her existing wardrobe for items suitable for mourning. They found three dresses in addition to the one she had worn to the park. Not quite enough for a weeks-long mourning period. Not wanting to waste any time, Donna connected through to her favourite seamstress and requested several more outfits suitable for a woman of her station who is in mourning. The seamstress, knowing Donna's measurements from previous business, said she could have them ready by Sunday evening. Hearing that, Donna instructed Stephanie to go into the city on Monday to retrieve the clothes.
The fourth step of Donna's plan, rebuilding the townhouse, was going to take the longest to come to fruition. determined to get started as soon as possible she sent a query to the Drummond and Johnston architectural office in the city requesting an appointment to start planning new construction. That done, she next placed a call to a local construction company and requested a meeting on Monday to discuss the demolition of the remains of the townhouse and, possibly, the new construction.