It's nearly time to release The Blushing Bride. Before I do, I'd like to share a lovely short story with you. It is written by Caryl Moll, a special friend. Thank you, Caryl, for sharing this with us.
Caryl's lovely story is about a special keepsake. I'm pretty sure that each and everyone of us has something special that we have kept; a treasure that invokes special memories. A keepsake that will bring tears of happiness to our eyes and remind us just how special life can be.
The Blushing Bride is intended as just such a keepsake for Niki and Stephen as they become husband and wife in September.
(A short, fictional story)
Updated 20 February 2017 (originally March 2014)
by Caryl Moll
I stare into our dusty display cabinet. Among the treasured memorabilia, the two pieces of shiny driftwood catch my eye. Their history floods back – in all its vivid splendour - like a river racing towards me. I pause and ponder. It was a long time ago…
I was fifteen years old. With shoulders slumped and tears streaming down my cheeks, I stood at the edge of the waves. I lifted my chin and took in the salty sea breeze. Anger and frustration churned up in me in ever-increasing spirals. Life was just so complicated. I held my breath and kicked hard. Sea sand shot up in the air and spiralled downwards directly on top of me.
“Urrrrrgh!” I shouted.
As if on cue, a hand rested on my shoulder. “What’s wrong, kitten?”
Paulie had appeared out of nowhere – in all his sun-kissed glory. He must have been watching me. I tried desperately to dust the sand out of my face as my heart fluttered wildly at his presence. Anger dissipated into embarrassment.
He dipped to my level and looked deeply into my eyes. He was already nineteen years old and for as long as I’d known him, had been one of my allies on the beach – a body guard who had diverted the bullies when I was younger. But his softer side had emerged in recent years. I noticed how tall he had grown. He had gorgeous, deep-brown eyes. Paulie held out his hand and smiled.
“Come, let’s walk a bit, Kit. You can tell me all about it along the way.”
It was easy to pour out my problems to him. He listened attentively as we walked slowly and steadily along that beach. Soft, gentle waves lapped at our footprints, calming me to marvel at the difference between mine and his larger ones. I always felt at total ease with Paulie.
Eventually we arrived at the estuary and flopped down, exhausted, on the embankment to watch the river. Paulie stretched himself out and looked at the landscape. We’d fallen into comfortable silence as we watched the debris float by - there’d been heavy storms somewhere on the plateau. Soon, a piece of driftwood passed and Paulie stood up to retrieve it. I took the opportunity to drink in his heart-stopping profile.
“Look at this beautiful wood, Kit,” he said boldly. “Have you any idea how far it has floated to be with us?” Paulie’s tone was academic. I smiled and shook my head.
In his usual way, Paulie fell into a long story about the shiny piece of wood while I wallowed in his image. I wasn’t really listening to him.
“It must have travelled a thousand bends to be with us”, he grinned. “Picture it Kit…sometimes fast, sometimes slow, through forests and past settlements… perhaps over a waterfall too!” My attention drifted back to his little speech.
“Yeah, just waiting to be picked up by us,” I offered, flirtingly. He chuckled and then nodded.
Somehow Paulie always knew how to temper my dark moods and hold my attention. Sometimes I focussed on what he was saying and sometimes I simply allowed his golden voice to sweep over me. I could listen to him forever. He was my first, innocent love and had sewn himself into my heart.
With shiny muscles, gleaming in the sunlight, Paulie balanced the wood over his knee and pressed hard. It broke in half, dropping splinters on the soft embankment. He held one of the pieces out to me.
“Here Kitten, you take this piece. It’s for you. Keep it in a safe place. Whenever you're unhappy, like today, think about our driftwood. It's travelled far, in one piece, like you and me ... "
Paulie looked at me seriously. “Katie,” he emphasized, using my real name. “You are never alone. I will always be with you.”
Fifty years have passed since that special day. During all that time, we’ve both lovingly held onto our pieces of driftwood. Tomorrow is our 40th wedding anniversary and we plan to visit that beach again.
As if by magic, I feel Paulies’ arms enfold me. I emerge out of my day-dream as he turns me around and plants a loving kiss on my forehead. His face is wrinkled now, but the dark-eyes still touch me in a way like no other. I reach for the two pieces of driftwood, but he stops me bluntly.
“Here,” he says. “Let me take them. It’s time that I glued them together for the rest of our journey. Happy anniversary, my love!”