This story is written as part of A Winter in Storyland contest on Tell-A-Tale – Bringing stories back into lives. Link to the tale: Princess Charming (do visit the link and share the story on your FB timeline or twitter so that I can increase my chances of winning 😉 ) (Update: The story in that link is an unpolished version. Below is the well-edited one)
The pristine white snowflakes fell gently on her face as she looked up at the sky to count the stars. She couldn’t find any stars, but the snowflakes felt like stars, stars that were falling upon her as a blessing, stars that reminded of him yet again, stars that spoke volumes of unexplainable words. As the snowflakes fell on her milky white skin, a warm feeling seared through her. There was radiance in the air. Though it was a freezingly cold night, she felt cosy. The snugness was present even in the absence of a fireplace in the porch. She knew that the warmth was a product of her thoughts about him. Her happiness multiplied as her heart filled with his sweet memories. Yet she could never name her relationship with him or explain the feelings that she nurtured for him.
They had spent many a day together, walking through the woods, chatting for aeons, dusting the frost from the pine tree leaves, and shovelling and decking the snow to make a funny snowman. Still there was an aura of enigma, when it came to realizing their feelings for each other. As she dreamed about him, she heard footsteps approaching the main door. Unlatching it, a woman in her 40s hollered, “Caroline! Come inside! You’d freeze if you stay outside any longer.”
Smirking, Caroline stood up, dusted the snowflakes from her woollen wear, and entered her rosewood abode to the inviting and intense aroma of hot chocolate. Automatically, her legs moved towards the table and she found a huge mug of hot chocolate waiting for her. Picking up the mug with her excited hands, she climbed the stairs and made her way to her small room in the attic. Plopping softly on a chair, she began sipping the hot chocolate, indulging in its honey-dipping taste and losing herself in a myriad of thoughts.
‘Does Mathew love me? I can find a few hints in his mannerisms, but I want him to speak out his feelings. I want him to make me feel special with a romantic proposal. I want him to make the first move. If he confesses to me, I can have some time to analyze myself and then I can confess my love. But, will mom accept him to be her son-in-law, given that he is a….’
Caroline was carried away in her thoughts that she didn’t realize her last sip of hot chocolate’s turning cold. ‘Oops!’ She said to herself and gulped it down. Then she climbed down to meet her mom. Mrs. Helen Smith was seated in a rocking chair beside the fireplace, stitching a new fuchsia scarf for her daughter. Caroline went over and hugged her mom in a tight embrace.
“Thank you, mom! I can afford to spend the rest of my life drinking hot chocolate prepared by you.”
Helen released herself from the hug and looked at Caroline with a raised eyebrow. “Then, don’t you have any idea of getting married? Shall I get you married to hot chocolate?”
“Oh, no! Er – I was just saying…Never mind. For your information, though I am a weird fiction-ated girl with strange opinions and perspectives, I too would like to meet my Prince Charming and get married. Do you remember my telling about the musical locket, mom, the one which appears in Tinkle Bells movie?”
“Awww! Please don’t repeat that Caroline. You’ve been telling me that for ages. You’d get married to the one who buys you the exact musical locket with the exact music bit, right?”
Caroline clapped her hands and replied, “I love you, mom. You remember it so well. And I am repeating; I’d definitely get married to the one who presents me the exact vintage style brass musical locket with Fur Elise playing in it.”
“Don’t build castles in the air, Caro. You can never find a man who’d come flying in a chariot and sweep your feet away by presenting to you the locket. First, fall in love with someone. Then tell him about the crazy desire of yours. Make him buy one or let him present it to you on a special occasion, but there is no assurance that that locket would be the exact one, which you’d dreamed of. This is the harsh reality, my dear girl. You have to find a guy and make him your Mr. Right. Magic happens only in fiction.”
“Oh, chill mom! Well, I’m in the process of finding a guy. Will let you know when I do.”
Giggling, Caroline dashed back to her room, jumped on her soft bed and picked up a colourfully decorated scrapbook from the bookshelf. As Christmas was around the corner, she planned to gift something special for Mathew. Hence, she collected their precious photographs and pasted it all over the scrapbook, clearly mentioning the day and date of each incident. She also wrote a short note about each one. She smiled to herself while looking at those photographs.
‘Oh, my God! What’s happening to me? Am I falling in love with him? Or am I already in love with him? Isn’t he supposed to be my best friend forever? Isn’t he supposed to be my three am supporter? Should he mean anything more to me? Should I not be satisfied with his current association with me? By the way, will he ever love me? Will he love me despite his condition? He is the one who should be thinking about all these, but it’s vice-versa in my case. Only time can answer.’
That night, she slept with confused thoughts.
Christmas Eve meant Santa Claus and Santa Claus meant gifts. Hence, Caroline was eager to know what she’d find under the mistletoe on that serene chill night. ‘Will I meet my Santa at least this year? Will I receive any meaningful gift?’ Pushing back a tendril of her auburn hair, she reached the Christmas tree and found a small gift box wrapped in gold sheet with a red bow on it. She picked it up curiously. On top of it was a label mentioning ‘To my dearest Caroline’. It was Mathew’s handwriting! Her jaw dropped as she marvelled at the thought of Mathew gifting her on Christmas Eve. She pinched herself to make sure that she wasn’t experiencing one of her queer dreams yet again.
Untying the knot and unwrapping the gold sheet, she proceeded to open the box. Her heart thudded with each passing moment. There were beads of perspiration on her forehead. It was a caramel coloured wooden box with a tiny latch on it. She opened it with care. Something fell out of it onto her lap. The next moment, she could listen to Fur Elise being played. With bulged eyeballs, she picked it up from her lap, and then she screamed joyously.
“What’s happening, Caro?” Her mom came running from the kitchen.
“Mom! Thi..this..is ..just..un..unbelievable! Mathew has gifted me my long-cherished dream. The vintage style brass musical locket with Fur Elise playing in it!” Tears of joy streamed from Caroline’s eyes.
“Wowwww! That’s awesome, dear. So, you followed my words, right? You fell in love with him, told him about this wish and boom – it is here!”
“Mom, what are you speaking about? I never told Mathew of this crazy wish of mine.” Flabbergasted would have been an understatement to explain Caroline’s emotions.
“What?! You never told? Which means?”
Caroline had no time to provide an answer. Wearing her overcoat and boots, she picked up the decorated scrapbook and dashed out to meet Mathew. At last, she realized the karmic connection between them. They were meant to be soul mates. They were destined to be together forever. The answers to her puzzling questions arrived in the form of the locket.
‘I want him to make the first move.’ Her own thoughts came back to haunt her.
‘No! It is I who should make the first move and seal this bond between us. This is it! Why should I wait for him to come down in a chariot, present me the locket and take me away? Let me do that. Let me be the Princess Charming for him.’
‘Magic happens only in fiction.’ Her mom’s words floated in the chill breeze.
‘Magic happens in real life too. All you need is to have belief in miracles.’ She reassured herself.
‘Will he love me despite his condition?’ Yet another of her past thought.
She thought as she marched towards Mathew’s home. Gently pushing open the door, she called politely, “Mathew!”
Out came a poliomyelitic boy, making his way towards Caroline with the help of his crutches. He beamed and stared hard into her eyes, as if examining her soul. Hers were the only eyes that never showed pity, whenever she looked at him and his paralyzed legs.
Holding out the scrapbook, she went down on her knees. “Will you marry me?” That was all she said. A smile as a response from him secured their relationship forever.
Hope you enjoyed the love tale!