November 2002 Storyteller Collaboration
by Roberto Naranjo
The plane finally reaches the terminal after eight long hours. Douglas stuffed his book, CD player, magazine, and eyeglasses in the backpack and got ready for some fresh air. The flight from the east coast had been a rough one. It felt more like an old train ride than a flight. But that was the past. Now he looked forward to explore his favorite city, to relive the happiest week of his life, his honeymoon. Separated from Liz just a month, he ached to experience their love one more time. One last time.
London had awakened. Middle of the morning, with cool, clear skies, and streets clogged with cars, double-deckers and people going everywhere and nowhere. Douglas walked out into the pandemonium and smiled. In the middle of Piccadilly Circus, surrounded by a throng of tourists, stood Eros. His mind recalled Liz standing by the statue, laughing while he took a picture of her with three multi-colored haired punks by her feet. He crossed the street and walked inside Tower Records where he had purchased the entire collection of the Beatles over her objection. That was the last time they had argued on those two weeks. After a couple of hours she had come around and accepted his decision. Now he only browsed.
After wondering around Soho for several hours, Douglas at last made it to the Marlborough House Hotel. Luckily room 17A was available. Standing by the door for several minutes, he could not believe how little it had changed in all these years. The furniture, the curtains, the bathroom, the walls, the paintings were the same. Only the computer by the window was new. His eyes soften while he contemplated the image of a Welsh sunset over the bed. Liz enjoyed that painting. He sat down by the computer desk and looked at the reddish sky as his mind replayed that first evening years ago. How much he loved her! How much he wanted her there! No, he will not get depressed. These two weeks were to be of happiness reborn, of memories still alive.
Five days later Douglas sat on the east bound express to Cardiff in the early dawn. The good weather still held firm, cool and sunny days, cold nights. Just like then. Except he was here, alone. The train pulled into Cardiff station and Douglas headed purposely to the downtown area. Three blocks by the station he entered the Red Dragon bar. Nothing had changed here either. The young bartender came over and he ordered her favorite drink, an Earl Grey tea with a hint of Beefeater whisky. Not his preferred, but one he had come to like lately.
The day went by from one sight to another, from one memory to another. Every scene relished and experienced to its fullest. He will never be back. He will sit at home and visit these places any time in his mind, so it was important to absorb it all. Before long he was headed west to London, sadder and full of emotions too difficult to separate.
Back in London, the days went slowly by. With her memory by his side Douglas explored the city from dawn to late night. Twice he took the train to the surrounding countryside, once to Cambridge and once to Oxford. In Oxford he sat by the river's edge on a warm afternoon and contemplated that same warm afternoon years ago when they both lay over a blanket and enjoyed a peaceful and romantic break from all the sights. Now he did the same and imagined what they would talk about, laugh about.
The time to leave finally arrived. On the afternoon of the day before departure, Douglas stood before Westminster Abbey. He had saved her for last. Slowly he walked inside and marveled at the high ceiling with its sculpted columns and stained glass work. He continued past the altar and out a side door into a hallway. Within a few paces he came upon an inner courtyard. He stopped in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary and kneeled. Out of his coat pocket he pulled out a small heart shaped box. Slowly he opened it. At the foot of the statue he emptied its contents. Her ashes blended with the moist ground as if had belonged there forever. Moments later he stood up and headed out the Abbey without stopping. Rest in peace my darling. I will always love you. He whispered as he walked out, head bowed and eyes barely noticing the ancient stone floor.
As the plane lifts off Douglas stares out the window. Was it worth it? Yes! In his heart every second of this trip was worth it. Every second. As the plane flies over the city westbound, Douglas spies in the distance the Thames River with Westminster Abbey close by. Two tears break loose and roll down his face. One for him, one for her.
Copyright Roberto Naranjo 2002