Go with Flow

byjeanne_d_artois©

+++

Over the meal we discussed progress on the carol service, the nativity play and the Christmas Party. Mike had a meeting with the Chairman of the Dramatic Society on Tuesday lunchtime. The Society's committee would have worked out a response on Monday evening. Mike would be talking to the Vicar about the carol service on Tuesday afternoon. The fund-raising committee would meet on Thursday evening. At that meeting we had to decide whether to go for the events or not. The party was almost certain. The Nativity Play and the Carol Service? We didn't know.

+++

Mike managed to meet Tom between lectures on Monday. He asked Tom about the names on the list for a date with Flow. Mike said it was like dragging a stuck boot out of thick mud but Tom finally admitted it was his name. He had put it on the list himself. He really did want a date with Flow.

Mike was prepared. When he had seen Tom in the distance he had told Flow by text to be close by. Mike was holding his mobile phone and had prepared another text message. Once he had extracted the confession from Tom, Mike hit the send key on the phone in his pocket. And Mike could say 'What a coincidence. Here's Flow now...'

Tom turned around. Flow flinched as Tom's brightest sweater was revealed.

Mike said to Flow "Tom's name was one of the genuine ones on that list."

Flow took over from there. She took Tom by the arm, led him over to a bench, pushed him to sit down, and talked to him. Later she sent a message to Mike.

'I had to bully Tom a little but he has agreed to a double date on Sunday with you and Sarah. You are taking us back to the stately home again. We'll see what happens.'

+++

Mike was unusually secretive about his meetings on Tuesday. All he would say was that he would tell me and us on Thursday evening.

I saw Tom with Flow on Wednesday afternoon. I didn't recognise Tom at first. He was walking beside Flow but he was wearing a modern dark blue anorak. His hair, normally unkempt, had obviously been cut and even combed. His worn trainers were the only item that I would have associated with his normal appearance. They were talking in an animated manner. Flow waved at me. Tom was looking at Flow. I don't think he noticed me.

+++

At the fund-raising meeting on Thursday evening Flow was present and had brought Tom. This time he was wearing new trainers. They were slightly uncomfortable. He eased them with his fingers from time to time.

"They'll be easier in a day or so," I heard Flow say to Tom.

Mike opened the meeting by reminding us of the date of the auction of promises. We knew that. We had been putting posters around the university. He circulated a printout of the promises to be auctioned.

"This week I spoke to the Vicar and the Dramatic Society," Mike said.

He paused.

"There were a couple of problems. There are so few dates that would be suitable for the Carol Service and the Nativity Play. The Dramatic Society has been successful in a local competition and has progressed to the Regional stage. Their regulars will be very busy preparing for the competition. But the Vicar had a suggestion. He said that the Nativity Play could be part of the Carol Service. He and the Chairman of the Dramatic Society discussed it without me. What they proposed is that the Nativity Play isn't a play at all but like a pageant set of tableaux. The performers arrange themselves and move to illustrate the particular Carol, for example "We Three Kings of Orient Are". Joseph and Mary holding a realistic baby doll welcome the Kings who leave their presents."

"How many tableaux?" I asked.

"A couple, maybe three. Another one is the arrival of the Shepherds during the 'While Shepherds Watched' Carol."

"And the Dramatic Society will perform?" I went on.

I recognised Mike's awkwardness. There was something he hadn't said.

"Er... No. They wouldn't have the people. They can provide a director, the costumes, write down the actions but..."

"But?" I asked.

"But we have to be the performers. The Chairman even suggested the people for the principal parts of Joseph and Mary."

We waited. Mike grinned.

"Mary? That's Flow, dressed in a Royal Blue long dress with a golden halo. Joseph? All Joseph has to do is stand beside or behind Mary. The Chairman proposed Tom to be Joseph. Me, Sarah and the rest of us are Shepherds, Kings and Angels, changing if necessary."

Tom was horrified. Flow was whispering urgently in his ear.

"The Ox and Ass?" I asked.

"If you're volunteering, Sarah?"

I pretended to hit Mike.

We found a hymn book and looked at the Carols suggested for the service. We could see that at most there would be three tableaux but we'd prefer there to be only two -- the Shepherds and the Kings. Even those might be difficult for us.

It didn't quite happen like that. When the Carol Service with included Nativity Tableaux happened the fund-raising committee produced four shepherds and three kings. The church choir put on angel wings and tinsel halos to be the angels. But that happened later, towards the end of term.

+++

On Sunday morning Mike and I were outside by Mike's car waiting for Flow and Tom. We were a few minutes earlier than the agreed meeting time. I was surprised when they arrived together, walking side by side, but with a couple of feet between them. They were together, but apart, if you know what I mean. I hadn't seen them together except at the meeting and on Wednesday afternoon. Both times they looked like friends but no more than that. They still looked like friends, not girlfriend and boyfriend. Their body language was tense as if facing a minor ordeal.

Mike and I got into the front of his car. Tom held a door open for Flow to get in before going around to get in from the other side. I could see that they were sitting as far apart as was possible on the back seat. They didn't talk to each other during the drive to the stately home. Mike said a few words about the traffic, otherwise the whole journey was in an embarrassed silence. I was worried that this experiment might be a failure.

In the car park Tom got out quickly and opened the door for Flow. We walked towards the ticket office and each of us paid our own admission. We walked into the formal gardens in silence. Mike stopped suddenly. He turned to face Tom and Flow who were standing a few feet apart.

"This is ridiculous!" Mike said. "Thomas? You're a gentleman. Flow? You're a lady. Thomas? Bow to the lady..."

Tom looked sheepish but executed a beautiful bow. Flow produced a deep curtsey, holding out her skirt. She giggled. Tom grinned.

"Now, Florence, this is Thomas. Thomas, this is Florence. You have been introduced. Thomas? Crook your arm so Florence can place her hand in it."

They did. Flow giggled again.

"Thank you, Michael," she said. "Thomas! While we are here I am Florence. OK?"

"Yes, Florence," Tom said.

"There's one more thing," Mike said. "Over there..."

He pointed.

"In the formal gardens there are cascades and fountains. I have arranged for the hydraulic mechanic to be there in ten minutes time to demonstrate and explain to you two how they work. It involves Physics and Mathematics..."

Flow nearly dragged Tom off towards the cascades. In a minute they were out of sight.

Mike kissed me. I kissed him back.

"We have more than an hour to ourselves. The mechanic will bring them back to the tea room at twelve thirty. Until then?"

We walked through the formal gardens to the woodland walk, wrapped around each other. On the bench we repeated what Mike had done with Flow.

+++

Outside the tea room we waited for Flow and Tom. When they appeared I was delighted to see that they were holding hands. They were deep in animated conversation. Flow broke away from Tom for a second to kiss Mike on the cheek.

"Thank you, Mike," she said. "That was wonderful."

"Thank you," Tom said. "It was amazing. I hadn't appreciated how much was possible all that time ago."

He grabbed Flow's hand again. Over lunch they tried to explain to use what was unusual about the cascades. Neither Mike nor I really understood their explanation. We did get the message. Mike had provided them with something special.

By the end of the visit the two of them were comfortable with each other. On the drive back they were close together, side by side, holding hands. As they left they walked off with Flow's arm around Tom's waist.

+++

The auction of promises went well. We raised over five hundred pounds. Tom had paid twenty pounds for his date with Flow. She had paid the same.

The Carol Service and Nativity tableaux took place a week before the Christmas Party. Flow as Mary looked spectacularly regal. Thomas seemed to be standing very close to Flow and protecting her. They looked at each other frequently. They seemed to be in love.

At the party Mike and I were very busy with the organisation and the domestic arrangements. Both of us were very pleased that Tom and Flow seemed inseparable. Tom was actually dressed in smart casual clothes. Several of the other women had benefitted from an hour of Flow's advice. For a student event the clothes being worn seemed much more suitable for those women.

At the end of the party as Mike and I were clearing up Flow brought Thomas across to us.

"Thank you, Sarah; thank you Mike," Flow said. "Tom and I are spending Christmas together."

"I've invited Florence to stay at my parents," Tom said. "I don't think they'll believe that she's with me, nor what a difference she has made to the way I look. But I know they'll love her. I do."

Flow kissed him. She kissed Mike, me and Tom again. I kissed Tom too.

Next term? I think Flow and Tom will be happy together, perhaps as happy as Mike and I are. Tom behaved like the gentleman he is; Flow like the woman she is. Neither is frightened of each other. They have no reason to be.

I never told Mike what Flow had told me. I think he had guessed. I'm pleased I told him to go with Flow. Now Tom goes with Flow.

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byjeanne_d_artois© 5 comments/ 14814 views/ 12 favorites

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by Anonymous

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by Anonymous11/18/17

Great story showing how important true friends are.

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by Spencerfiction11/17/17

Lovely story

Sweet and gentle and unorthodox 5*

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by Pickering11/13/17

Very nice!

Solid, interesting story. Well executed with believable dialogue.

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by Anonymous11/13/17

true romance

your tale was true romance without sex as the major part. I must have missed
what happened to the baby or maybe I read it wrong. over all A good tale

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