Ella’s deflated voice was another bitter reminder of our disastrous vacation. My precocious daughter had been so excited to see a real castle. I should have known better. How could a six-year old see past her Disney-colored glasses at the beauty of this twelfth century wonder? I looked up in awe and imagined an idyllic Camelot, my own unachievable idea of happily ever after.
Time for a change.
I knelt next to her and pressed my hand to her heart. “Sweetie, happily ever after isn’t in a castle. It’s in here.”
Just ahead, she saw the alley in the sunlight. If she could make it she would be safe. Her heart pounded and she felt the package tucked inside her sweater. Father Daniel had trusted her and she couldn’t let him down. She heard footsteps behind her but didn’t turn to look. Father Daniel said if she could make it to the Cathedral, a Friar would be waiting to take possession of the package. Suddenly she felt like she was in a bad novel. She stepped into the sunlight and turned right. Hopefully her story had a happy ending.
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“There’s a hurricane coming. You should stay home.” He stared at the darkened sky, inky black in the distance.
“This interview is huge. I can’t miss it. And I have my lucky charm.” She jangled the bracelet he’d given her for their anniversary. “Besides, they won’t run the ferry if it’s not safe.” She kissed him softly, sweetly. “I’ll be fine. Call you tomorrow.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Turning on the morning news, his coffee mug fell and shattered, hot liquid rivulets snaking across the tile floor when he saw the lead story.
She stood in the rubble, memories flooding back like ocean waves. She was twenty-two and dressed to the nines. The sounds of jazz and laughter filled the air. Then she saw him and the room faded away. The melody that rang out from his trumpet was like a siren call. She knew he was the one. Sixty years later, after the funeral, when she was alone, she returned to the place where they first met, where she first fell in love. She found the place in shambles, much like her heart. And she said her final good-bye.