I tap my foot anxiously, my eyes darting towards the door, willing it to open. It does. Except, it’s not who I want it to be. It’s a man. He has tanned skin and honey blonde hair, each strand carefully styled. He has that kind of smile that makes you curious what he’s thinking about. 

“Hello,” he says in an accent I just can’t place- perhaps French. I only give him a smile in return. He raises his eyebrows, but doesn’t say anything else, instead opens a book. I resist reading the title, allowing him the satisfaction of my curiosity. 

“A nice day, yes?” he asks, half closing his book. 

I sigh. “Yes.” A perfect day, really- as long as the news doesn’t mess it up. 

“You are waiting for family?” he asks, clearly not bothered by my lack of interest- or maybe he just doesn’t understand. 

“Sort of,” I consider not explaining any further, “news about my sister.” He nods slowly, brushing aside a strayed piece of hair. 

“I am waiting for my mother,” he says without my asking, “she is supposed to be released from the hospital today.” His accent is very strong. “My name is William Feller.” 

“Ainsley Young,” I take his outstretched hand. His crooked grin makes the corners of my mouth twitch into a traitorous smile. 

“Your sister, you said. News about her?” 

I nod. “Yes. She’s been in the hospital for a very long time. We’re hearing today about her surgery. We are all very frightened for her.” 

“She is very young?” he guesses. 

“Yes, only twelve.” I find myself grateful for the distraction. “And your mother?” 

He looks a little more solemn as he explains, “she had some complications with her heart. I came all the way from France-” knew it, “-to her see her.” 

We sit in calculating silence for a few moments. Perhaps both of us are anticipating the moment when the door swings open and a woman strides in. 

“Mr. Feller?” she says. I feel my heart sink, although I’m happy for the man. The man gives me one last smile as he leaves the room with the nurse.

 I tuck a strand of my own dark hair behind my ear, feeling alone in the silence after the man leaves. I realize he left his book here, so I glance over at it. 

It’s a worn out copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I stare at it, suddenly wishing he would come back and fill the empty void of anxious silence. 

But he doesn’t. In fact, the next person to enter a room is a different man, a nurse. “Ms. Young? Your sister wants to tell you the news in person.” 

I feel my heart soaring as I walk through the hallways. The nurse stops in front of a door and opens it. 

I don’t know what I was expecting. The walls of the room had been painting bright blue, covering in stickers- and all sorts of doctor things like needles and stethoscopes. 

The only thing I can focus on is my sister. She doesn’t stop smiling even for a second as she recounts everything that she remembers in great detail. She doesn’t even stop smiling as the nurse ushers me out of the room, promising me I can visit again tomorrow. 

Sitting in the waiting room is a familiar face. The man looks oddly nervous. 

“Is your mother all right?’

“Yes!” he exclaims, then clears his throat. “I mean, yes, she is very well. She is going home later today. Your sister?”

“Everything went amazing.” 

“Very good! I apologize if this is odd, but I was thinking of staying in America for a little longer, and was wondering if you would be so kind as to help me get to know your city?” 

“Of course,” I say. The smile on the face could have lit up a thousand lanterns. 

Three years later William is still in America. He sits beside me at a little coffee shop.

"Should I buy my little sister a brownie?" I ask him as we study the desserts in front of us.

William gives me one of his crooked smiles. "I will do the buying. After all, I owe meeting you to her, and meeting you was the best thing that has ever happened to me."

My heart flutters. "Really? Well then, I suppose we should buy your mother a sweet too, since she played a part as well."

He taps his chin. "Maybe we should... or we could just buy ourselves something and not tell either of them we were here."

"Sounds like a plan," I agree, "they can't miss something they don't know about."

"That they cannot."

We settle on a giant cookie to split, and he leads me down to a gazebo to eat our food.

"I really do owe it to that hospital, don't I?" he says thoughtfully. I nod, my mouth too stuffed with delicious cookie to give an actual answer.

He takes me to the hospital a few days later. We step out of the car, and- although I don't remember it well- he dropped down to one knee.

One thing I do remember was how wide my smile was that day. In front of the hospital, where it all began, we were now engaged.

"So that's how you met?" Marie asks. I laugh and continue braiding her hair. She looks more like William than I, but I have Jean on my side.

"I want to go to the hospital!" Jean exclaims. "I want to meet my husband."

Marie looks at her funny. "Jean, your seven."

Jean pouts, but brightens when William enters the room. He scoops her up in his arms.

"I can't believe you met Mom in a hospital!" Marie says.

William's gaze lands on me, and I feel my heart melt, just like it had the first time I laid eyes on him- although with a lot less disappointment this time. "Me either," he agrees with that crooked grin.

July 07, 2020 19:55

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Graham Kinross
12:30 Nov 20, 2021

That was cute and although the time jumps were slightly jarring the How I Met Your Father ending was sweet. The hospital setting instantly made me think something bad was going to happen, it’s nice to subvert that expectation.


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Zahra Daya
18:20 Jul 17, 2020

Good job on this story, I quite enjoyed reading it! The only improvement I can think of is to go a bit slow as it felt like the story jumped in places a bit much, but overall it was well-written! I'd appreciate it if you checked some of my stories out! :)


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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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