a short story by: Justine Kaneris
Once upon a time,
there was a little boy who liked a little girl. She was wild and loud, while he was shy and quiet. She craved adventure while he liked to play it safe. The two of them complemented each other- he helped keep her keep grounded while she showed him the world. As the years passed and they grew older their fondness of each other blossomed and they found themselves madly in love, and you would not see one without the other. After college, they decided to get married.
Shortly after their wedding, they traveled to Africa for their wild and adventurous
honeymoon, the boy’s gift to the girl. Despite his urge to stay in the beautiful 5-star resort, the girl convinced the boy to go sky diving over the Sahara Desert. And because of the intense stress of such an extreme expedition, the boy had been experiencing small panic attacks that morning, so he chose to wait at the landing spot in anticipation of his bride. She would soon be landing safely down a couple of yards ahead of where one of the sky diving instructors told him to stand.
As the boy waited, many minutes went by, and he still did not see her. So, he looked up to see if he could at least see the aircraft carrier she was in and as he looked up, in slow motion he raised his right hand, resting the edge alongside his forehead to block the sun – BAM! The aircraft exploded and he quickly realized what happened and then the panicked instructor confirmed that the girl, his bride, never made it out of the plane.
Not so quickly afterwards, deep in thought, the boy was offered a police escort back to their hotel, but he decided to call an Uber instead. And to his surprise, the uber that came to collect him was a stretch limo. He did not feel fancy or important like luxurious ride offered, instead the dramatic length of the vehicle made the trip back to the hotel even longer and sitting all the way in the back black leather bench seat all by himself made him lonelier than ever. He did not need extra space. He would do anything to be close to his girl again.
After many years of staying inside the boy aged into a grumpy old man quickly. He kept the window shades closed, because the sun was too bright. He had chosen to sleep on the lumpy couch in the dark office, because his bed that they once shared was upstairs in their master suite. He figured he no longer needed all that space, and that traveling up and down the stairs would be too dangerous. So, the old man stayed indoors most of the time and most of the time, the old man was alone.
Until one day someone knocked on his door.
“Alright, alright! I am comin’ don’t get your panties in a bunch.” He griped as the defining sound of the doorbell echoed throughout the house like a hollow bell tower.
He answered the door and no one was there. No person, but there was a note, a bouquet of balloons and a suite case. The note read,
“Open up the suite case and put on what you find. Do not worry, it is your size. Love, your girl.”
The old man was shocked in disbelief. He glared around the corners of the front porch then reluctantly picked up the suitcase and the balloons and went inside. He had to wrestle with the balloons to get through the door but he eventually won the war and preceded in locking
the four deadbolts alongside of the door that was now behind him. Looking into the room from this angle, he noticed specks of dust floating in the air only visible because the sun was sneaking through a broken blind. As he scans the room past the television, and past the round coffee table, his gaze finally rests on his old brown couch weighed down on only one seat cushion: it was his own imprint from countless hours of streaming television series and movies. Looking at that imprint made him feel heavy and lazy and reminded him how much time had passed since that last tragic day he had seen his girl vanish in the sky. Which then reminded him about the note that was still in his hand, along with the suitcase and the balloons.
What kind of sick joke is this? And who would do such a thing?
He thought to himself. He slowly traced his fingers along with the letters and then carefully placed the note down on the coffee table. The balloons were all tied together and connected to a stone, so he sat those down on the floor beside him as he started to open the suitcase. In the suitcase, he found a three-piece tuxedo. Black pants, a white button downed shirt, a black vest, a matching black jacket, and a black bowtie. He smiled slightly and inhaled deeply while exhaling loudly; shaking his head, this was the same thing he wore at their wedding, certainly a bigger size than before, nonetheless, the same. So, he went to his bedroom/office to put them on. Walking out of the bedroom, now in his dapper new tuxedo, he stood a little taller and felt a sense of pride and heightened confidence. He did not know where he was going in his new formal attire, but he did not care. For the first time in a long time he felt different, and perhaps even a little excited.
Walking through his shabby dull home his eyes found the colorful bouquet of balloons, he marveled at the bright colors, red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, and green. They were so bright in contrast to the surrounding dull decaying furniture and wallpaper that set the scene around them.
Suddenly, something changed inside of him.
He walked boldly to the blinds and pulled their string down gently, inch by inch the evening sun glowed through the dusty windows. He took a deep breath, grabbed the balloons and headed for the stairs. With careful attention, he took one step at a time making his way to the top of the staircase, this time, without any of the previously anticipated problems. From there he made his way down the hallway, passed three closed doors then, making his way straight ahead to the fourth. As he stood in front of that fourth closed door he took another deep breath, turned the knob and with the bouquet in his other hand then, burst through the door with force and passion.
Stepping through the door, to the room that he had not seen in a while; he noticed how bright the walls were, a baby blue, her favorite color. The white trim was a strike contrast, yet complimented the blue walls nicely. The combination drew his attention to the grand French doors and all the windows. He felt welcomed here, he felt like he belonged. Walking up to the French doors, and pausing briefly taking in the moment, he placed the balloons down beside him and opened both doors at the same time. With the gust of wind coming into the room the balloons began to stir, they were all sort of waving about, but the old man did not pay much attention to them, he was already out on his balcony enjoying the warmth of the sun paired with a nice cool breeze that swept across his face. There on his balcony in his black tuxedo, he felt like royalty.
As he stood there looking over the edge, he saw a couple of squirrels chasing each other up and down some trees. He followed them up the tree with his eyes, giggling to himself slightly, with a small smile creeping up at the corners of his lips. He paused as he marveled to see the red and black distinct feather pattern of a woodpecker. His pecking echoed throughout his backyard and beyond. Looking up further he saw a flock of geese in the shape of a “V” in complete synchronicity.
He felt a sense of peace, he felt happy, even.
Soon, the wind began to pick up, and with that, some of the balloons began to loosen from the rock that held them to the ground. And just like that, one balloon after another began to take flight. This did not startle the old man, and he did not race to try and stop them, he just let them go. Standing there a little taller than he was, he began to feel youthful, watching those balloons stirred something inside of him, he felt a burst of adventure. This sense of adventure gave his heart a gentle tug as he watched these colorful bubbles float above as their thin whit strings slowly disappeared. They were both wild and loud as they danced in front of the descending sun and fading blue sky. They looked free and he felt freer, this felt like a goodbye, this felt like closure.
As the man closed the double doors and made his way back downstairs a little lighter than before. He stood in front of the bathroom mirror as he began to untie his tie. He noticed that he did not appear to be as old as he had been feeling. He smiled at himself and whispered softly, “thank you.” Back into his sweat pants and loose fitting grey t-shirt, he folded the suit and placed it back into the suitcase, put the note in the front breast pocket and set the case outside the front door. Pausing outside on his front porch, he decided to join the luggage and sit on a chair alongside the case. While soaking in the last bit of magic of this day, he sees an elderly woman get out of a car. As she makes her way up the pathway to his porch, she grabs the suitcase and turns to the boy and kisses him on his forehead and says,
“You look good.”
With a nod and a smile from the boy, the elderly woman takes the suitcase and makes her way back to the car. As the car fades away, the boy sighs and whispers towards the car,
Then he looks up and is little surprised by all the stars looking back at him. He smiles and whispers towards the stars,
“I will always be your boy and you will always be my girl”.