Sarah saw her grandfather in the back yard welding a 55-gallon drum. She knew that’s where she could find him and it would be hard to pry him away. But it was Sunday and this was her time to spend with him, and like every Sunday, she wanted to hear him tell a story. In her eyes, he was the greatest story teller in the world. He took her to unbelievable places. Walks on the beach in southern Spain; hunting lions on the planes of Africa; and once they took a space ride across two galaxies.
“Hi grandpa,” she said excitedly. She skipped towards him until she was standing a few feet away. “It’s Sunday. You know what that means?”
Grandpa sat the torch down. “Yes I do sweetie. It’s story time.” He smiled at her and slowly stood up. The years had been good time him but crouching down was still a chore for old bones.
“Where are we going today?” she asked.
“Well, I have a special story to tell you. C’mon, let’s get some lemonade.”
They walked into the kitchen. Grandpa poured the lemonade. Sarah watched eagerly wondering when he would start the story. They never began the same way. Sometimes he’d start with Once upon a time and other times he’d talk for 15 minutes before she realized everything he’d said was part of the story.
“I want to tell you the story of someone really special. You’re at that age where I think you’d enjoy a love story.”
“Love story? Like a princess?”
“Yes. Yes, it is the story of a princess.”
He sat at the table and began the story:
We live in a world where technology gives us an opportunity to make connections in ways our ancestors couldn’t even imagine. At any moment in time one can engage with another soul thousands of miles away on levels once thought possible only with science fiction. It has made the world so much smaller; made it possible to be closer from distances and time zones that would be miraculous if not for the ubiquitous nature of the technology that drives it.
And anytime you make it possible for people to connect, you make love a possibility. Now, there will be those who say you can’t possibly love through technology, that humans still must have a physical connection in order for love to fully blossom. But we know that is not true. The reasons fairytales are so popular is because in caters to the imagination that all things are possible. Today, there are love stories playing out across oceans, mountain ranges and time zones. This story is about one of those.
It actually started off innocence enough. A few mentions on social media and they connected. The problem was she was far apart. So for a long time they kept things casual between them. They supported one another when the other was down. They created this entire world where only the two of them dwelled.
It was an easy relationship; an easy friendship. They joked and laughed easily with one another. You’ll discover one day that there are two things you can do with a person that draws you near them: laugh and cry. Laughter opens you to the pleasure of their company. Being able to cry with someone gives someone access to your vulnerabilities. And if they do not judge or take advantage of either, then you have someone special.
One day they decided that it was time to meet. He went online to research the best places in the world and he chose Paris. Yes, they would meet in Paris… the City of Lights. This would be their first time together so he planned every little detail. He wanted it to be special. But mostly, he wanted to know if it was love or….
“Or diarrhea.” Sarah interjected. She laughed at her own joke and her ability to contribute to the story. Grandpa laughed with her.
“Yes, sometimes it’s just that as well.” He said.
“Ok, so they go to Paris. You took me to Paris too.”
“Yes I did,” grandpa replied. “But this is little different.”
He landed in the afternoon in Paris and took a cab to the hotel. What beautiful hotel it was. It had large arch doorways. The hotel lobby contained antique French furniture and large Persian rugs. There were two huge chandeliers hanging in the great hall. When they took him to his room, as soon as he walked in he was greeted by a large window that framed the Eifel Tower. This was perfect he thought.
Outside of the bedroom window was Juliet balcony.
“What’s a Juliet balcony?” Sarah asked.
“It’s like a fake balcony. You really can’t stand on it.”
“So what’s the point?”
“Shhhhh… let’s continue with the story.”
He sat in the room waiting. He was nervous. This moment would define the rest of his life and there was an element of fear inside him. That’s when he heard the knock on the door. He walked over to the door and there she stood. She was more beautiful than he imagined. He saved every picture she ever gave him but they paled in comparison to the woman standing before him. She wore a sleeveless black dress and fell just above he knees. He could tell she was a bit hesitant. What did she think of me, he kept asking himself? He found out because she reached out to touch his face, he thumb touch the corner of his eye, and she slowly ran her hand down until her hands lay on his shoulder. She reached in and kissed him.
With one kiss his nervousness disappeared. He took her bag and led her into the room. They stood at the large window staring at the Eifel Tower. Neither said a word.
“You’re just in time for lunch.” He finally said.
They spent the afternoon on the balcony of the hotel having lunch. Afterwards, they walked the streets of Paris. Every so often he would take her hand and their fingers intertwined as the peered into shops, cafes; laughed at one another as they tried to figure out who mangled the French language the most. They ran into a vendor selling jewelry. He looked though all of the merchandise and saw a charm. It was a heart encompassing another heart that turned into the fleur-de-lis. He was only familiar with the symbol because it was the symbol the New Orleans Saints used as a logo. He purchased it, put it around her neck, kissed her, and whispered to her that this would be the symbol of their love.
In four days they never left each other’s side. They kissed on the bridges at night, they danced in the little cafes and turned into whimsical dance theater after dinner, they journeyed to the far reaches of Paris just to see how lost they could get. The world they create when there was distance between them became a playground when they were together.
When it was time to leave he had made up his mind that he would spend the rest of his life with her. As she was going through the gate to fly back to her country, he refused to say good-bye. She could sense it and went along with him. Neither said good-bye.
“That’s sad. That must have been hard. I feel sad when mom tells me good-bye and put me on the school bus. I always have to sit next to Charlie. He picks his nose.” Sarah whispered.
“Yes. Indeed it was hard. But he had a plan.”
They began a world wind romance. They met to ride the Gondoliers in Venice and laughed hysterically at the Statue of David.
Sarah looked confused by that reference but before she could begin her inquisition, grandpa waved her off. He didn’t want to have to explain it to her and he certainly didn’t want to have to explain to his daughter why he was discussing the penis of a statue with a ten year old. He continued:
After a year of traveling the world he figured it was time to stop traveling and make it permanent. He was convinced that he had found the love of his life. But before he could move he had to find out how he could make a living. He decided he would write about what he experienced; a travel guide for lovers to all the greatest cities in the world.
For months they talked and he never let on that he was moving. One day, he mentioned that he had a friend who was moving to where she lived and needed help decorating his apartment. He knew she had dreams of becoming an interior decorator and thought it would be a great opportunity for her.
Several weeks passed and she shopped, hired painters, ordered furniture and decorated the apartment based on the specifications he provided. He sent her an email setting up a meeting to show the client the apartment; Friday, 2pm.
She arrived early to ensure everything was in order. It was her first real client and she wanted everything to be perfect. She followed the specifications but was given latitude to be creative and that’s exactly what she did. From the curtains, pillow choices and even the type of linen she chose for the bedding, she put her touch on the apartment as a signature.
The door rattled. She stood in the living room, gave herself the once over to ensure she looked professional. That’s when he walked into the apartment. He looked around with amazement.
“You did a great job with the place.” He said.
She smiled but was a confused. “What are you doing here?”
“I have an appointment to see the place at two.”
“You? Why would you need to see this place? What are you doing here?”
He smiled. “Well, Obviously I need to see what you did with our apartment.”
It finally hit her. “You’re the client?”
“Him in the flesh.”
“And this is your place?”
“No. This is our place.” He walked towards her and pulled her close. “I don’t ever want to be apart from you again. This… is our place.”
“So, you’re never leaving again?”
They kissed. And he never left her again.
“Awwwwwww… that’s so sweeeet. But if you really want to make the story great you should throw in some dwarfs and a fairy god mother.” Sarah explained.
Grandpa got up from the table. You’re funny. Let’s save the fairy god mother for the next story. He turned to the refrigerator, opened the door and retrieved a water juggle. He opened that cap and put the bottle to his mouth.
“You better not.” Said a voice behind him. “Get a glass old man.”
Sarah jumped from her chair. “Grandma!”
Grandma reached out to Sarah. “How’s my baby girl?”
“I’m great. Grandpa just told me a love story. It wasn’t a real fairytale but it was nice anyway.”
“An almost fairytale love story. Well that’s really sweet of grandpa. I guess it’s better than the alien abduction story that gave you nightmares.”
She slapped grandpa’s arm.
“Nope. No nightmares from this. But I hope I find love like that one day.”
“In due time young lady. In due time.” Grandma said. She leaned over to kiss Sarah on the forehead. Sarah looked at her grandmother’s neck. Hanging there was a charm. A heart shaped charm with the New Orleans Saints logo in the middle. Gandma looked at Sarah and smiled. Sarah smiled at her grandmother and reached out to touch the charm. She rubbed it softly.
“Sometimes fairytales do come true.” She kissed Sarah. She rubbed the charm hanging from her neck and turned to grandpa. She kissed him on the check and left the kitchen.
“The end.” Sarah said.
“The end.” Grandpa replied.
BIO: James Manning has been writing and blogging for over ten years. He writes on current affairs, politics and sometimes ventures into comedic sketches.
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