They anxiously took a seat at one of the rather luxurious tables on the ferry. Feeling humbled, the listened to the announcer on the television screens mounted all around telling about the battles that had taken place at the Civil War fort that they could see ahead as they traveled across the bay.
It seemed irreverent, a bit foreboding, to ride, in luxury, to a place where hundred died and the history of a nation changed. She grasped the family history book that told of her ancestors’ death at this fort, then wiped a tear and traveled on.
She felt herself running, tripping down this odd stair case, the echo of someone following her, close behind. It was rather dark, in this place she’d never been-Italy, maybe, Old Europe?
It seemed the stairs went on and on, chunks of granite worn down by time-some sort of alley way. There were no cares and no doors that led anywhere.
Where was she, who was chasing her? Why was she here? A cold breeze whipped by her, she jumped up. Her heart pounding. “A dream,” she sighed, “only a dream.”
“Where had she seen those steps?” she thought, now awake.
We were sitting at a table outside the coffee shop. The conversation had come down to our thoughts about how we had wished, as teens, to be adults, the suddenly found life escaping us. We had married, our kids were grown, we were old, and what had we really ever done? What happened to that “Bucket List”?
I noticed an older man across the street, looking into the window of a wedding shop. His eyes were wistful, he seemed deep in thought. I wondered if he was thinking the same thoughts that we were? If this was something we all do? He walked on, we finished our coffee. Life.
She walked out in the cold of winter, faded dress blowing in the wind, torn shawl clutched to her shoulder. There was no term “Civil War” to her. The soldiers had conscripted her husband, leaving her with three young children and a belly swollen with child. The war was old, many soldiers had deserted. She had no slaves, many slaves ate better than she and her children did.
The ham was gone from the barn loft where she had hidden it. The Yankee soldiers had stolen it. She was lucky she hadn’t been beaten and raped. She remembered the quote she had read in the newspaper, “It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”. “What,” she cried, “ about the women and children?”
I was about five years old. We were on our way to the beach for the first time. I opened my sleepy eyes as we went down the mountains and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Below my was a fluffy layer of clouds with what looked like an island emerging from its center. Was I still asleep? Had I been lifted to some sort of magical land?
I looked up and say my parents in the front seat. My mom turned around and smiled, knowing my thoughts. “We are above the clouds, honey,” she smiled. “What you see is a mountaintop coming up from the valley.”
“Wow!” I though. “Could seeing the ocean for the first time really beat this?”
“I must be dreaming!” I said to myself as I walked around the corner of the old brick building and saw the aging phone booth.
“I haven’t seen one of those in years!” Cell phones had pretty much sent phone booths the way of the dinosaur.
Even though I never had the cause to use them much, they did hold a sweet ring of nostalgia.
I walked up to the phone booth, running my finger over the fading red paint on the surrounding box. I smiled as I saw the push button dial, even with the buttons, it seemed quaint.
“What? 50 cents?” I sighed. I looked up to see the modern building and knew I was in the present time after all.
Today, an estate sale sign sat in the yard of my childhood friend. Thirty years ago, we all loved to go to Katie’s house. Wonderful memories filled my heart.
I stopped and walked in the door to the sale. It was as if I had gone back in time. Picking a few things that I remembered, I paid for them and returned to my car.
My hands were shaking. How quickly life goes by. Those treasures now sit on my mantle. What will happen to them if, one day, an estate sale sign sits in front of my house?
She sat in the chair, staring at the wizened old lawyer.
“Zats vat it says” he uttered in his very European accent, for the third time. “I leave my great neice Victoria, who bears my name, my hotel in Winterthur, Svitzerlund.”
“I didn’t even know I had an Aunt Victoria!” Vicki exclaimed. “And where the heck is Winterthur, and what hotel?”
He handed her the photo, his hand shaking. It was the hotel she had seen on Modern Murder Mysteries on her favorite TV show last week.
He chased her down the beach laughing, catching her as she ran. He panted, then laughed, “I didn’t think I was going to catch you after all my planning!”
She looked down , suddenly realizing what was happening and gasped..
“You make me feel like the wild winds of the ocean.” he smiled as he put the ring on her hand. “I have no doubt that I want to spend every minute of my life with you., will you marry me?”
With the ring safely on her finger, they danced in the waves.
“Oh, my God!” “Oh my God!” She cried. The ring was gone.
Suddenly a wave washed up between her searching hands. Something sparkling amidst the shells. She grabbed the ring and smiled up at him, “I forgot to say, ‘I will, she laughed.”