"You are the love of my life, and I promise I'll always find you, even centuries later."
"How is that even possible, darling? Are you saying that we will live forever?" replied a beautiful woman, whose eyes sparkled with happiness and whose smile was a man's favorite thing in the world.
"That's not quite what I meant, but you almost got it, sweetheart," he replied.
"What I'm saying," a man continued, "is that you'll always be the one, looking at whom, I'd feel like the wave has covered me. It's like a slight electric shock that goes through my body when I see a person with curly hair of coffee color, thinking it's you. But I know that I'll never confuse you with anybody else because your big and kind heart, wondrous soul, and bright mind make you so special. I'll always recognize you among millions of people because when I think of love, you always appear on my mind, April," said a handsome guy, whose eyes were watering after this sincere speech.
The man hugged his wife, kissing her forehead, and inhaling the smell of her musky perfume. He wanted to stop the time and remember this moment for the rest of his life, and he did.
We hit the road and reached our destination within 5 hours. It was quite hot outside because it was the first month of summer. The air was heavy and the conditioner in the car saved me from that heat. The time passed quickly because I was asleep, or looked in the window imagining I was in a music video.
The place we were heading to was the house of my great-grandparents, in which they used to live before moving to another state long ago. I've never been at this place because they've passed away a couple of years before I was born, and their neighbors took care of the house, so my parents visited it only a few times because they knew there was nothing to worry about. However, my sister is getting married soon, so we thought it would be nice if she and her fiance could live there after the wedding.
I got out of the car, and there was a large house in front of me. It had big windows that let the light from the outside into the rooms; in front of it, there was a green garden with apples, peaches, and some herbs. A squeaky wooden staircase that welcomed everyone who paid a visit. When I opened the door, I felt like it was not the first time I did that because the doorknob fit in my hand so easily. Somehow, I knew that there would be a small vestibule with an umbrella stand, a plant in a vase, and clocks with a secret section for keys.
Well, these might be just my fantasies mixed with my parents' stories from their childhood, which they remembered and told during family gatherings. I entered the hall and looked around. Everything felt so familiar and strange at the same time. It was like when you return home after being away for a long time and try to understand what's changed. But it often turns out that the only thing that has altered is your own perception and mindset.
I decided to take a small tour around the house. Although I don't have any memories that could be associated with some objects in there, this place brought about such a nostalgic sense of comfort. I entered the bedroom, which smelled of wood and old books and saw photos on the cabinet. I've always been told that I look exactly like my great-grandfather, and, sometimes, even act just like he did. Even though I never saw him, I could easily imagine his voice, gestures, and moves because I've heard so much about him from my relatives. I can't say if we are truly that much alike, but I can neither reject nor admit as only other people could notice these similarities.
I looked at the picture of the family member after whom I was named when I heard my mother's voice, coming from the attic, "Alfred, come up here and help me with these boxes."
“I’ll be there in a minute, mom,” I replied while putting the picture in a frame in its place. I looked around, wondering how many events the walls of this bedroom have witnessed. I ran my fingers through my hair, removing a strand from my forehead and headed to the door. When I went upstairs, I came into the room with many cabinets, a big desk, and boxes of different sizes, where numerous notebooks, newspaper clippings, and photo albums lay.
“What are we going to do with all that stuff, mom?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, son, but we need to go through them and decide whether these are worth keeping and neatly organize them. Your great-grandad loved taking notes and keeping small things that remembered him of different moments. He told us that it helped him not to let any of the memories fade into oblivion,” she said.
“Oh, I see. Maybe going through his diaries will help me understand what he was like and see why you continue comparing us,” I replied, smirking at her.
“I’m sure you will, Alfie, because sometimes I look at you, and it’s like my own grandpa is looking at me from the times when he was young,” my mom continued, and a shudder went through her.
I opened the boxes, and a cloud of dust came up, making me sneeze multiple times in a row. There were letters and dried flowers, ribbons, and tickets from flights, trains, and movies. I have even found a small bottle of perfume that smelled very nicely, having strong hints of wood, spices, and powder. I picked up a random notebook and opened a page in the middle of it.
“Today, my lovely April and I went to the park to feed birds and eat ice-cream. She was wearing a dress with flower prints, and I was wearing a smile. She maid her hair up that day and put locks behind her ear when the wind was blowing. We laughed over many things and hugged a lot. Even now, when I’m writing this after a couple of hours when we said goodbyes, I still can smell her perfume on my shirt, and I love it. I adore her to my very core. It makes my heart beat faster when she calls me “darling.” I think I will propose to her because I’m convinced that if somebody makes your eyes sparkle and brings light into your soul, you should never let that person go. I love her freckles and hugs; the way she raises her brow when she asks something; rings on her fingers and the concentrated look on her face when she reads books; the way she talks and the words she invents when describing something; her small height and when she stands on tiptoes to give me a kiss. I don’t think I could love anybody more than I love her, and this thought makes me want to run to her apartment and ask her to marry me right now. I feel like the luckiest man in the world because we both exist in the same place and time.”
Wow, I didn’t expect to read anything that emotional, but somehow, I could feel what my great-grandfather was describing. It was something like deja vu, and I knew how that park looked like and which ring he wanted to buy. That gave me goosebumps, and I decided to see clippings from newspapers. On one of them, there was a photo of two young and attractive people who have been wearing wedding costumes.
“Congratulations to the Buckleys! Alfred and April had their June wedding, which is symbolic because that’s the month they first met each other three years ago. We want to wish good fortune to the newlyweds and may love be forever in their hearts!”
I assumed that it was a greeting from my great-grandparents’ friends. It made me smile, thinking how happy they must have been on that day. I flipped through other diaries and read about Alfred’s experiences and feelings. He was describing everything with so much detail that it felt like it was me who went through all those events. There were ups and downs, joy, and sadness, but their love for each other was the only constant.
I decided to take a break from going down the memory lane of my grandpa and explore the place. I was hungry and wanted to buy something to eat. The problem was that I didn’t know where to find a shop.
“Hi! Excuse me, do you know how I could get to the store?” I asked a lady who was passing by. She looked gorgeous, and I smelled her perfume from a distance; that smell was so familiar, but I couldn’t understand where I knew it from.
“Hi, darling,” she replied. And an electric shock got through me.
Wait, who is she? It can’t be real; it’s not possible. Different thoughts went through my mind.
She continued by saying, “The shop isn’t far away, and I’m on my way there right now. You can go with me if you want,” a lady smiled and raised a brow, waiting for my reply.
I was so confused and just stared at her in the eye.
“Are you okay?” she asked me. She had a lovely accent. Her words made me flinch, and I replied:
“I’m sorry. I was thinking. And, yeah, it would be nice if you could show me where the store is.”
She said, “It’s fine, by the way, haven’t we met before? Because I have a feeling that I know you.”
“No, I’m sure that if we had met before, I would never forget that,” I said, smiling at her and blushing.
“What’s your name, darling?” she asked.
“Alfie. And yours?
“April. My name is April.”
And that was the moment it all made sense. That was her. The love of his life was there, right in front of him.
“I promised I’ll always find you. As you can see, the time didn’t stop me from doing that,” said a man to his bride, who was listening to his wedding vow.
“Yeah, just like you promised, darling. Time means nothing when there is true love, right?” replied a beautiful, petite lady with hair of coffee color. She got on tiptoes and kissed him.