For a moment, Bella wondered how she came to be confronted by this striking artwork. She had wandered into the gallery in a daze, her mind fogged by the fact that she was supposed to be on honeymoon. The wedding had gone the way of everything else that season – cancelled, or at least postponed for a year, her dress back in the wardrobe.

Somehow, through the maze of directional arrows and social distancing dots, she had arrived at this self-portrait by Peter Paul Rubens of himself and his future wife. She noted the namesake co-incidence as she read ‘Isabella’ on the label, alongside the title, ‘Honeysuckle Bower’. “Bower’ – she liked that word, and mouthed it softly into the silence, staring at the clusters of trumpet-like blooms that surrounded the couple, symbols of their enduring love.

The girl was wearing the elaborate clothes of the early 17th century, with a large ruff and traditional Flemish tall hat. Somehow, despite the stiff attire, Rubens had conveyed a closeness and devotion between them that Bella had not seen in other artworks, with him leaning towards her and the two of them holding hands. She told her own Peter about it that evening and he realised just how sad she was about missing their wedding.

Pete spent the next week making plans, all kept from Bella until Saturday morning. He told her, with marriages allowed to take place again, he too didn’t want to wait any longer. Intrigued and excited, she got out the dress that had been waiting in the wings, and quickly did what she could with her make up and lockdown hair.

An open-topped car dropped her off and directed her down a path through a leafy arbour, where her nerves were calmed by a soothing fragrance. Reaching the end of the walkway, she hardly noticed the incongruous assembly of masked guests, nor even the waiting registrar, because her attention went straight to the honeysuckle arch under which her groom was standing.

“Our bower,” she whispered, as he took her hand.

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Bait

It takes a real talent to tell a story in so few words. What was…


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Inspirational piece. Am glad you picked the rat to be the protagonist in your story,…


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Such a sweet tale - and with a good moral to the story. I thought…


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Wow! This is a good story! Really good to read to little kids, the moral…


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Endure and Sing

Hi Katy, it really does add an extra dimension to hear your story read aloud…


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In my neighboring country Denmark, we have the classical storyteller Hans-Christian Andersen. Your sweet story…


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A really nice one with a wonderful story line. I can see why this was…


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Endure and Sing

Your story inspired me to keep going no matter how discouraging it gets. At times…


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Endure and Sing

Thank you so much for the feedback! I pray that the young readers will be…


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Thank you for taking the time to comment and convey your thoughts on the story.…


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Hi Katy, don't we all feel like the rat in your story at times! We…


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