Little White Lies
A Novel By
Copyright: JD Selmser
Published: 23rd December 2013
I do not know if it was the idea of being in love or just the possibility of being love that motivated me to travel half way across the world from my little town in Canada, but I never thought of the consequences. I never even considered the price I would pay. I just did it. Little did I know that it would become the place that my heart would call home and a distant prison that I could never escape. They say that the quest for love will make a person do such crazy things and I am no different. I just threw caution to the wind and before you knew it, I was landing in a foreign land. My only connection was a handful of emails, a picture, a name and a heart full of desire.
Now that I look back at it, this was the day that absolutely changed my life. This was the start of a new life for me, but like most dreams and fantasies this journey did not go exactly as I had planned or expected. If only I knew that day that a little white lie could make me rich and famous as well as destroy me. I often wonder if I would have even left the plane, but like most journeys you never known that you are there, until you arrive.
That one paragraph, those few carefully crafted words, haunts me every day. Why, you might ask? Well because I do not know if they are all lies or just a figment of an over active imagination. My name is RW Skuce and I live a lie. What lie? You may ask, well the world thinks that I am the king of romance, a guru of love, but I do not believe in love because I cannot remember ever being in love.
Exactly three years ago today I woke up in a hospital bed and had forgotten my whole life and since that day I have been haunted every night. I live in the shadow of who I used to be, but everything I know is rumor and hear say. The only connection that I have to my old life is a fat bank account, a detailed plan painted on the walls and a woman whose name I can’t remember, but she haunts my dreams. Like a good little soldier though, I play my part. I visit hospitals, sign autographs and spend a lot of time on talk shows.
It’s not a bad life, but sometimes I wonder if there is such a woman that was so important to me, I mean that I loved so much I wrote a 350 page novel and learned to play 5 instruments just so I could document our romance, to write her a single love song to win back her love and if so, is she out there waiting for me somewhere.
Chapter One – No good deed goes unpunished
As I walked down the hallway of the hospital all I think of was how could a place smell so clean yet not fresh? That’s one of the things that I hated about them. They always smelled too clean like if they used enough bleach it would hide the smell of death, but I knew that death was always hiding in the shadows like a ghost. I am not sure if it’s because I cannot remember anybody I knew actually being terminally ill or whether it was a cultural thing, but as I walked into the room I felt a great sadness.
As I glanced in the room I had a struggle to control my shock. Straggly thinning short hair and rough skin with white patches covered all her skin making it look more like scales then actual skin. Her letter said she was 16 years old, but from this angle I would have sworn that she was 116 with those skinny little limbs and the way her skin seemed to just dangle from her body. She was just lying there on the bed at the children’s hospital, reading an old tattered copy of my novel “Second Chances.” The cover was wrinkled with little tattered edges and I was so amazed at how carefully she turned each page as she read it. I just stood there watching her lips move as she read each word. She looked so serious as her eyes went from side to side and an array of expressions covered her face with each word. Suddenly she looked up and exploded, “You came, and you actually came all the way across the ocean to see me!”
That smile lit up the whole room like sunshine and it made my whole heart swell. “Of course how could I not come and see my biggest fan” I spouted out. Deep down there was this over whelming feeling of guilt because truly if my assistant had not nagged me and nagged me for weeks about this little girl I would never have travelled this far. I just could not be bothered, but seeing how much joy my coming brought this skinny little creature, I was glad to have come.
I sat down in the hard pinkish plastic chair and said, “We have not been properly introduced, my name is RW Skuce” and I shook her hand. It felt so cold and dry.
“Hi my name is Camilla and I am your biggest fan ever,” she said as that smile grew and grew. I handed her a little sickly white rose that I had picked up at the airport and she took it with a slight confused look on her face. “I like the others that you sent, but since this one came from your hands, I will treasure it forever” and she gently tucked it into the top desk drawer. I thought what others? As I glanced around the room, I noticed that it was completely filled with White Lilies. My immediate thought was that Anna, my assistant, was once again one step ahead of me. I honestly wonder how I could possible exist without her.
I reached in my jacket pocket and handed her a brand new copy of my novel. As she looked at me and smiled, I said, “Here is a brand new copy of Second Chances” and as I pulled the pen out of my pocket to sign it. I noticed that she was slowly sliding the old copy towards her. I reached to grab it and replace it with the new one and she immediately pushed the old one far away. “It’s ok little one, I understand that you will have some sentimental attachment to the old one you have, but I think having an autographed copy of my novel will be special too.”
She was silent for a few minutes and then whispered in a low shallow voice, “It will be nice, but my old copy is already autographed and even has a special message written in the back. It’s also bigger.” I could hardly believe my eyes as I compared them side by side. I had seen many versions of this book in multiple languages, but this one was bigger than any I had ever seen before. Suddenly she was so excited like she had just discovered some great secret and very rapidly began, “Most versions say that they lived happy ever after, but this one you assume so, but you are never really sure. That’s why I like it so much because it makes you guess. You never really know for sure whether love conquers all, but you like to think it does. That kiss that took his breath away and how his heart just could not forget her even though she hurt him so much, yet I think that deep down she always loved him.” She began to flip through the pages and at the end stopped and smiled as she gently handed the book to me, “Plus it has this hand written letter inside. It’s not written as a character from the book, but you wrote it. I think that you must have really loved this woman.”
Slowly I examined the page with the words etched in faded blue ink. The writing was across the two back pages and so small that it looked too delicate for a man’s hand writing, but I could not deny that it was mine. I read the letter again and again.
Do not be upset because I am not trying to get you back or upset you or anything else. I just wanted to apologize and say I am sorry if I ever hurt or bothered you. You see the last few months I have learned to accept the fact that whatever he had or even if it was anything it was a fantasy that is lost to me and can never be recovered. One thing though is I should have handled it much better than I did. I am not apologizing for not being able to let go because honestly I cannot help who I am, but I definitely could have been more mature about it. Either way I am truly sorry for being such a fool. You see I was blinded by the fact that I loved you that I could not see that you could not love me. The irony is that when you left I at the airport during our first meeting I felt it, but was so stuck on how I felt about you that I missed that it was not truly mutual. For that I must tell you that I am sorry.
I also wanted to thank you because I realize that if you could not love me fully you could never be happy with me no matter what I did and in end that would not have been fair to either of us. Our whole relationship my happiness was tied to your happiness and if I could not make you happy neither of us would ever is happy. Getting over you was literally the hardest thing that I ever had to do. Not because I cannot live without you, but because I was so selfish that I had this childish idea if I held in long enough that I could see you in the future and win you back, but I realized in May that if I am over you or not you are over me. I saw you in New York, as part of my life now are meetings with New York publishers so I have a little loft there and realized that it was over. I discovered my hidden talent getting over you and I became rather successful at it. In your hands is our story. The greatest love story that I have ever written, the greatest love story that I had ever lived and the greatest dream I have ever dreamed.
My foolishness was rather extreme. I bought a house and filled it with everything that I ever promised and this June I gave it away to charity. It may sound stupid, but honestly it lost its meaning when I realized that you are happier without me then you ever were with me. It went to help the Ottawa children’s hospital so even a bad ending can have happy results. I once promised you that if you ever needed me I would be there for you, but also realize that it was unrealistic. We were never friends. We actually were nothing more than pen pals.
I must come there sometime in the New Year because I am meeting with a publisher about publishing my novel there. Well actually it’s a small publisher that will distribute my book throughout the region. Part of me originally wanted to send you a bunch of flowers and try and get your attention, but honestly what good would it do? I will stay away, but wanted to say I am sorry. The only regret I have is how I acted in the end.
I did write the story I set out to because the story I started to write had a happy ever after in the end, but obviously you know how it ended. If you do not mind I would like to give you an autographed copy of our story only I lied at the end. I could not bear the ending that truly exists. This copy is one of two because it was changed at the end to make it a better love story for the upcoming movie, but I wanted you to have the real story. In times when you feel unappreciated and need reassurance read our story so that you always remember that once upon a time a little Canadian worshipped you and that even though you are lost to him, in the nights he is lost in the darkness of sleep, he thinks of you.
Beyond this heartfelt apology I wish you the best, but now that I have apologized for any pain or frustration that I might have caused you, it’s time for me to get on with my life too. I have spent too much time loving an idea and will not spend another day chasing it.
Live the life that I tried to give you and never let regrets make you cry.
Camilla smiled and with a giggle questioned, “Was she really so beautiful that from your first kiss all you wanted to do was spend your life making hers filled with sunshine? I think that seeing sunshine in someone’s eyes is a sign of true love.” She was rocking back and forth and bouncing with excitement. “In the book and the movie you said that, I know all the words to the movie by heart too.” I went to ask her where she had gotten this book, but before I could she snorted out, “I have a book too, well not really a book, but lots and lots of emails. They are so much more romantic then even the novel is. I know that you must have loved her so much. I can feel your building right from the very first day that she sent you her smile.” After a long pause she continued, “Well the pictures of her smile.”
“Do you have pictures as well?” I asked as I began holding my breath fearing the answer.
“No there were no pictures just an email stating that she was sending you her smile. Did your cousin really teach you the power of a smile? He must have been such a great man to know that if he found such beauty in a woman because of her smile then he must spend the rest of his life making her smile. My mom says that men like that only exist in romance novels, like yours or fairy tales, but I told her that it was true. That you loved her so much that despite the fact you could live your life without her, it was more then you could bear.”
At that point, the door slowly opened and a little plump nurse hobbled in. With a low fearful mousy voice she asked more then she demanded, “It’s time for your tests Camille so your writer friend will have to wait outside?”
As I got up to leave, in a panicked voice she begged, “Please do not leave just yet.”
I could see that the tears were pushing their way upward so I responded, “Do not worry I will just be outside ok?” I heard the curtain swing shut behind me as I opened the door and slid outside. This was another mystery from a past life that I could not remember, but for some reason the world would not let me forget.
I noticed down the hall was a sign that said “The RW Skuce Wing”. I did not know that we did work here, but then again I assumed there were a lot of things Anna did that she never told me about. As I sat outside the room I was so deep in thought about the letter that I had not noticed this tired looking woman quietly sit down beside me. As I looked up she was just sitting there with her hands placed together on her knee and her head tilted down and staring at me in silence. I looked over and just waited, but she silently waited like a timid little mouse, so after a few minutes I could no longer bear it, so I cleared my throat and said, “Hello.”
With a little blush she said, “Hi Mr. Skuce my name is Maria and I just wanted to thank you so much for making this long journey to meet my daughter. I cannot tell you how much this means to her. I cannot tell you how much this means to me. Seeing so happy and smiling again.”
I smiled. It was a genuine smile because seeing that little girls smile was a feeling that I had not experienced in a long time. Of course seeing her in such poor health was something that I had never experienced before or at least not since I had woken up and forgotten everything about my past. I wanted to ask about the disease that Camilla had, but before I could ask she cut in. “I am very sorry that I could not meet you at the airport or hotel, but I was at work until just now and rushed right over here.” Her cheeks went red as she continued, “I also wanted to take the time to thank you for all the beautiful flowers that you sent as well as the new computer tablet and the tutor. Camilla has been falling behind in school since she has been in the hospital. I just want you to know that I am a good mother and work hard to give my daughter everything she needs, but hospital bills are so high that even now I have loans just to cover the costs”. She stopped and within a second began to frantically murmur, “Please do not think that I am asking for any kind of financial help or that is why I emailed you. I just wanted you to know that we appreciate everything that you have done for us, but I do take care of my little girl.”
The thought that she wanted a hand out never or help of any kind of help had never crossed my mind. The minute she mentioned how generous I was my only thought was how Anna always seemed to know what to do to make me look good. She was not only my assistant, but my conscience and PR Rep, plus she had no real problem spending my money. She was like having a wife only there was no sex and cold shoulder.
As I looked up I saw that Maria was waiting for a response, almost like my approval of her parenting skills. Such pleading eyes looked up at me that all I could do was lie about the whole situation. “You know a lot of woman might have given up with such a sick little girl and here you and your husband are working to make sure that has the proper care.”
She jumped back like someone had slapped her and with a shocked look uttered, “Her father is long gone! He was no good to us and I have been supporting, taking care of and loving her since she was two years old, alone.” She gently rocked herself back and forth and continued, “I do not mind though because she is worth it. She is a good girl and despite all her health problems, never complains or asks for any special treatment.”
Chapter Two – A mystery of sorts
I waited around and once visiting hours were over, I left. There were a lot more questions in my mind now, than when I arrived. First question I had amongst the long list was who Stacey was and did I give her this book? Why had I written that letter? More secrets from the past, that’s all my life really was. I followed the motions pretending to be the man I used to be, but there were always more and more little secrets. As I left the building I must have been deep in thought as I never heard the clapping of high heels on the pavement behind me until she was just a few steps away. As I turned and looked there was Maria standing there mouth half open like she had something to say, but couldn’t put the words together.
From my jacket pocket I grabbed a cigarette and fought the wind to light it. As soon as the smoke hit the air, she curled her nose and just stared at me. I took the hint and tossed it aside. I know it’s a filthy habit and I have been trying to quit for years, but it’s one of my many weaknesses. She had this apologetic look in her eyes and muttered, “Mr. Skuce you did not have to stop smoking on my account.”
With a slight grin I stated, “Ah it’s a filthy habit anyway.” After a few more seconds of silence, I added, “Besides my assistant Anna is always nagging me to quit smoking and start exercising.”
Her eyebrow popped up and she continued, “I am sure it’s only because she is concerned with your wellbeing.”
I burst out laughing, “No she just thinks that I stink up the world when I smoke.” She just smiled at me as if she were trying to figure out what to say next. I could not help, but wonder why she had chased me down tonight. Heavy exhausted eyes with bags under them told me that she should be home sleeping, but based on the look in her eyes she had something important to say. One thing I did know is that when a woman has something that she thinks is important to say, no matter what, she is going to say it.
Finally she asked, “Mr. Skuce would you like to come across the street to that little café and have coffee with me?” as she pointed to a little shop a block or so away. The dim little red sign said open with an arrow pointing to the door.
I really had nothing else to do until my plane left the day after tomorrow so I responded, “Yes of course, but how about you let me take you to dinner instead?” as I gestured that we should continue over to the diner. She did not argue, but had a concerned look in her eyes as we slowly headed over.
“I did not mean for you to buy me dinner Mr. Skuce, but just wanted to share a coffee and thank you for the very special gift you gave Camilla. You must truly have an angel’s character,” as she began fumbling with her brown old lady purse. That’s what it reminded me of an old ladies brown leather purse, the kind you see those elderly women carry at the hair dressers.
I put my hands in my pockets and heard the familiar clicking of my keys as they giggled between my fingers. “Have you eaten today, Maria?” I asked in the sweetest voice I had and threw in a little smile trying to charm her.
“Well no not yet because I worked a few extra hours tonight” she answered clumsily staring downward.
I smiled and followed with, “do you have any plans for the next 30 minutes to an hour?”
She looked up at me and answered, “Well no, I was going to have a coffee with you then go home and have a bowl of soup before going to bed.”
Before she could continue I jumped in with, “That’s great then, it means that you can do me the favor of sharing a meal with me since I am here all alone.” I always make it a point to make everyone I meet feel respected as much as possible and I think that in this case it was best to make her think she was doing me a favor by joining me. Well I guess the fact that I am alone in a strange city means that she actually was.
She agreed, but there was this look of concern in her eyes so I added, “Please do not be offended, but I was raised in an old fashioned manner where men still open doors for woman, get their chairs and pay for meals.” She nodded her head and seemed to be at ease as I opened the door for her and we headed in.
As we went to a booth just in front of the door she started to unbutton her faded beige jacket and it was not until after she turned around from hanging up her jacket that I realized just how hot she was. Maybe it was the shock of what she was wearing, but I just stood there staring at her speechless. It was not until her mouth dropped open to match mine that I realized I was staring at her chest. Embarrassed I kept apologizing, but I had good reason to stare. She wore a light blue sun dress that had these little criss cross strings joining an opening that ran right down the middle of her breasts and despite the fact that they were not overly big, she had a magnificent pair plus the lack of a bra did not help hide them. Little spaghetti straps hung over either shoulder and there was a little silver cross that joined at the top and bottom making it part of the chain rather than dangling from it. It was a knee high summer dress even though it was not summer and she wore brown leather boots the stopped just below the knee.
She had this sleek strut to her that was hidden by that ugly faded jacket. She looked comfortable, sexy and flattering all at once. I had to keep forcing myself to look into her eyes and not below them.
As we sat there just chatting about the differences in cultures, beliefs and life’s little things she sat back with such a determined look and said, “Mr. Skuce, I want you to understand that when I wrote you I was not asking for charity or truly did not expect you to come at all, but I am very grateful that you did. You have made my Camilla very happy and these days her unhappy days truly out number her happy ones.”
I just sat back and waited for the question that always seemed to follow such conversations. It was always the same with people asking for money of some kind whether it be a dream vacation or medical bills or any other variety of needs. It always ended the same way when I told them that I sponsored a medical foundation and everyone must apply and I had nothing to do with the selection process. I sat there sipping my coffee waiting, but the question never came. Instead she just smiled and said, “Again thank you for being such a wonderful man.”
All night I had been waiting for the perfect time to ask her one question. I had been waiting for just the right time and I figured now was it. “Maria, can I ask you something?”
With a slightly confused look she responded, “Yes of course you can, ask anything”.
“Where did Camilla get the copy of my novel?”
For a minute I had a look of utter disappointment then she said, “In a trash box”. After a slight pause said, “No wait, trash is not the right word … what I mean is a garbage sale.”
I smiled and with a little giggle I said, “I think you mean garage sale.”
She smiled and said “Yes that’s the word. Please excuse my English.” Not that there was really anything wrong with her English. She had a slight accent, but sounded like she was raised in England. She continued, “When she first became ill my sister Anastasia bought her the box of books and the one with the letter written in the back was sitting on the top. Is there a reason that you ask?”
I did not want to tell her that the book was bigger than it was supposed to be or that it was my hand writing on it, but I had no idea who Stacey was. There were a lot of questions that this book could answer if only I could find the original owner. “Would your sister be able to tell me who she got the box of books from?” I asked.
She pondered my question then respond, “I am not sure, but when she returns I shall ask her.” It was at that point that I had such a feeling of déjà vu. I cannot explain exactly what it was, but something about that look gave me the feeling that this has happened before. I just could not shake this feeling. Of course, I have had them before. When I woke up and everything was gone I was told it’s the brain’s defense mechanism to try and adapt, but this was different, it was like there was a broken memory hiding within me trying to escape, but could not.
“Mr. Skuce can I ask you a question that I have wondered about for many years?” and with that she paused waiting for an answer.
“Yes of course you can” I responded.
She leaned over and whispered, “Why only one love story. It would seem to make a great business sense to write ten or twenty more because the first one sold so many books and was made into one of the biggest movies ever, but you stopped completely.”
I really had pondered that very question myself many times. Nobody really knew the answer. Definitely not me, not my assistant Anna who seemed to always know everything nor did my agent. It was a complete mystery to the whole world why anyone would just stop at the beginning of his success, but that was the other me. It has been said that the novel was not written to make millions, but to win a woman’s heart again which is why it was called “Second Chances”.
I had been asked this question so many times and rehearsed the answer that came so naturally to me that without any thought I answered, “I only had one love story in me.”
With a disapproving look she responded, “I do not believe you. I can think of many women who would want a man like you. I think that you are afraid of love Mr. Skuce.” With that she leaned back and sipped her coffee.
The next few hours flew by with countless little pieces of chit chat and my wise cracking jokes that she never seemed to understand. Finally she looked at her watch and in a serious tone told me that she needed to go home because her work day stared early.
As we stepped outside that little coffee shop the streets looked so dark and baron. The thought occurred to me that a gentleman would make sure that she arrived home safe, so after a little bit of protesting she finally agreed that I would have my taxi drop her off at home, then head back to my hotel. I told her that in Canada it was how all men behave. I could see that she was torn between being a self-sufficient woman and not wanting to insult me. It’s rare that I would basically force my will on a woman, but I did not like the idea of a woman walking home alone at night.
When the taxi dropped her off, we parted and went our separate ways. As the cab drove me to my hotel, I pondered the activities of the day. It occurred to me that I had travelled all this way and did not even know what illness she had. Tomorrow I would ask her doctor, but tonight I wanted to just go back to my room, have a shower and a tall glass of cold beer.
Chapter Three – Making connections
I had a sleepless night. Usually I do not sleep very well in hotels to start with, it’s one of the reasons I do not travel a lot, but with the new mysteries and haunting dreams, I just tossed and turned all night long.
After breakfast I answered a few emails and ignored a lot more of them then headed over to the hospital. As I stepped out of the elevator I looked down at my phone and read Anna’s message “How did the meeting go? Remember that this is your biggest fan and play nice.” I smiled and could not help thinking how lucky I was to have her as an assistant.
After a few days, I decided to stay longer and fell into a predictable routine. During that day I would visit with Camilla and she always had questions about the novel. She was so sure that it was a true story or a great love that was lost and the romantic side of her was sure that there had to be a happy ever after. Of course she was a teenage girl and romance was something she craved. I guess that all woman crave it, but when your tomorrows are limited, you want all the experiences you can as fast as possible. One afternoon she stated, “I like to think that when he received the text from Stacey stating that she wanted her happy ever after that he hopped back on a plain and flew to her. It’s the only thing that makes sense”.
“How so?” I asked.
“Well he wrote a complete novel about their love. The whole story is not an obsession like my Aunt Anastasia says, but about true love, about finding your soul mate and doing whatever it takes to win her love”.
“Maybe your Aunt is right” I said. “People have been debating that very thing since the book was written. Was it an endless love story or just the tale of an obsessed broken hearted fool?”
She leaned over and said “You can tell me I will not tell anyone. Was there really a man who loved someone so much he changed his whole world just to be worthy of her? “Does such a man exist, I mean could such love exist?” as asked shaking me before falling back on her bed with a loud plop.
“Some mysteries are meant to be just that, a mystery,” I answered, but honestly I have wondered the same question many times. I twirled my lighter between my fingers and tried to imagine the feeling of total dedication, total devotion and such loyalty that even when the whole world tells you that love is lost, all you can do is hang on and work harder to be worthy of it.
“I think though that there should have been more sex. When two people are in love as much as Robert and Stacey were, the physical act is part of the connection that their hearts have, but other than that you wrote the perfect love story.”
“Thank you I am glad that you approve.”
“Well me and fifty million other people agree as well, otherwise, you would not have only written one book and there would not be a movie based on it.”
I looked on the table and her would be bucket list. With a look of approval from her I picked it up and started to read everything that she wanted to do before she died. It was the first time I had really allowed myself to look at her that way. She was not just a sick young woman with a long and bright future, but one with a short limited one. The very first line read meet RW Skuce and it was crossed off. She snatched the list out of my hand and with a scolding look uttered, “Do not look at it that way!” She placed it on the table again and continued, “I want to enjoy this time, to laugh and have fun not mope over the things I cannot control.” She placed her hand on mine and with a devilish grin said “Besides I am a fighter” and started shadow boxing in circles around me. It was one of those moments that despite the fact I did not want to smile I could not help myself.
She sat on the bed and was looking down the neck hole in her night shirt as she said, “you know maybe if my breasts were bigger I would be able to have sex before I die.” I really was unsure how to answer, then she continued, “I have the smallest size and when I asked the doctor if they would get as big as my mother’s, he told me no”. She stared down a little longer then with a sigh stated “It’s a shame though.” After a small pause she ended with, “You know it’s a hard thing sex. You need love before sex and the guys I know do not believe or want love just sex and with my cracked scale like skin, even if a boy did believe in love he would not want my body.” Before I could answer the nurse shooed me out of the room, but by the look in her eyes I know that she was expecting some great answer or advice, I was just not sure that I had any.
That’s how my days went. I even extended my stay so that by day I could spend time with Camilla and at night with her mother. Every night I was amazed at how brilliant and charming she was. Every night we would go out for dinner and she would wear a revealing dress of some kind. There was always this little twitch of sexual tension between us and yet even though I swear that she wanted me to kiss her, it never happened. She always said a good bye and was home by 10 PM leaving me to wander around this little city at night.
As usual I woke up the next morning and started getting ready for another day and the thought occurred to me. Maybe I could strike another line off that bucket list. This would require some planning, but I had the greatest assistant who I think could terrify anyone into doing anything so I called her. “Good morning” I stated as she answered the phone in what I can only call a horrible tone of voice.
“This had really be important or else you will be losing your memory again only this time it will be because I bitch slapped you one too many times,” was the response that I received.
It was not the usual bubbly Anna that I was used to so I continued, “Is that anyway to speak to your boss and I would think best friend.”
“At 2 AM and just being woken up, unless you can tell me something wonderful, yes that is the response you get and no you are not my best friend. I would say more of an oversized child that I baby sit, but we can discuss that at a different time. What can I do for you at freaking 2 o’clock in the morning?” I went silent as I realized that I had forgotten about the time difference. “Well now that you woke me up tell me what you called for and it better not be just too say good morning and you missed me.”
I uttered “Well it seems kind of dumb now, but here goes. I need to bring a beach to a hospital room.”
“A beach to a hospital room”, was all she said. I am still not sure if it was a question or statement, but the more I explained what I wanted to do the more excited she got. I knew that if anyone could arrange anything, even here, it was Anna who seemed to know people everywhere. Just before we ended the call she said, “You know I am proud of you. You spend your whole life hiding from the world and this might just be the nicest thing I have ever heard of a man doing for anybody especially if the man happens to be you,” then she ended the call.
I sat there in the hospital room just bouncing with anticipation as I waited for Anna to tell me everything was arranged. One by one, as the arrangements were made, my phone would buzz and it was an exciting feeling. I am not sure if it makes me human or just selfish, but when it comes to surprises I like to be there to see the look on the persons face when they receive it. No matter if it’s as small as just a flower or as big as giving a cheque for some obscene amount of money, the look in their eyes is all that counts. That’s why this was going to be special because, unlike all the other children, who I have helped over the years, I was going to see joy in Camilla’s eyes or at least that was the plan.
I said to spare no expense to this because if I could make her smile, fill one day with happiness and make her feel special it would be priceless because I have more money that I could possible spend in one life time. The final text came in that everything was ready. Camilla looked up and stated, “You must be really busy with important matters because your phone has been buzzing all day.” I smiled and excused myself.
As I opened the door, I saw two young women pulling a couple of racks of clothes. They were from a high class boutique named “Esquire En Rouge.” As I lead them in, her eyes went giant and her mouth dropped. “What is this?” she asked filled with absolute confusion.
“Well I cannot bring you to a beach for a slow dance, but I can bring a beach to you so to speak and well I think this type of atmosphere needs something special to wear.” Such a great smile filled the room. Behind the wardrobe was hair and makeup so I excused myself and went for a coffee as I waited.
I sat on those hard plastic chairs waiting for what seemed like hours as giggles and laughs exploded from the room. Even behind the closed doors the sound echoed all around me. I was surprised that even the nurses who came and went were always smiling and laughing. I looked at my clock and it was already 4:00 PM. The sunset would be soon and I really had no idea what was going on in that little hospital room, but just then, slowly, one by one everybody began to leave until finally they were all gone.
As I entered the room I saw such joy in her eyes. She was standing there in a shoulder less brown gown they swayed as she turned from side to side just letting it flow through the air. She had a little golden necklace and her hair was all done up with a crown like clip in her hair. Behind her the sunset was sparkling through the little windows as it set in the background.
She pointed to the tarp lying on the floor covered with sand beneath her feet and said, “They told me I needed shoes, but I like the feeling of sand beneath my toes. They also told me that I should not wear a long gown as it’s a dance on the beach with a sunset in the background, but I wanted to feel like a princess, even if it is only for today.”
I responded, “It’s your day and you look like a princess. Wear whatever you like.”
“What if I get this dress dirty from the sand?”
“It does not matter because the dress is yours to keep.”
“Too keep” she snorted, “but it’s very expensive! It’s 600 Euros. That is too much money for me to accept as a gift.” She kept looking into the little wall mirror, admiring the way she filled the dress. Her voice said no, but her eyes said yes.
“You must keep the dress. It’s already paid for and honestly do you think it will look as good on me as it does you?”
She laughed, “Probably not, but Mr. Skuce do you always get what you want? I think that deep down you are Robert from your novel.” She hit the button on her little radio and started playing with the buttons until she found a song she liked. She turned and said, “Shall we dance my good sir” with such an exaggerated curtsy. She was a rather good dancer and looked up at me with such innocence in her eyes. “Thank you for this, this minute will always be locked in my heart even though in my dreams the charming man always kissed me.” Deep down I started to feel trapped. It was my intention to give her a good time, but not seduce her. My god she was just a child after all. Then she smiled and said, “Well kiss me on the forehead not the lips and do not look so scared. I think that I will never understand men.”
I bent over and kissed her forehead. Afterwards she went to her list and scratched off multiple lines. As I was leaving I turned and she just smiled at me.