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Finish The Story # 4- 2020 – Andrei and Eartha – P7
It all started with a hastily written, albeit vague, note left in an old book.
“To the one I love,
Meet me at our spot.”
Andrei browsed the shelves at Jim’s Used Books, not looking for anything in particular when he spotted a gray and silver spine. Huh. He pulled out the book, tracing the strangely familiar symbol on its cover. No title? No author? Lemon and a hint of peppermint floated in the air as he opened the book.
A small piece of paper floated gently to the floor and caught his attention. A simple handwritten note on tanning paper. His fingers tingled as he picked it up and read it. Without giving the book a second thought, he placed it back on the shelf, tucked the note into his jacket pocket and left the store.
Eartha had just settled into the booth at Phil’s Cafe, plugged in her laptop, and opened her latest manuscript draft. There was no where better to write a contemporary story than the corner of a busy cafe in the University district. So many snippets of passing conversations ended up in her stories without anyone knowing.
She giggled as a young couple argued over whether pineapple belonged on pizza, and another pair of young men, probably football fans by their non-player jerseys, debated the finer points of surviving a bullet hell.
Jasper brought over her order and smiled. “Someone left this the other day and I asked Phil if I could give it to you since no one claimed it.” He pulled a small, red leather journal with a heart pressed into its cover out of his apron pouch, smiling.
“Really?” She beamed. “Thanks.”
He grinned, nodded, and returned to his work.
She examined the journal and paused before opening it. “What if it’s like personal? That poor person.” Okay. If it is personal, I’m going to find the person who lost it and return it.
As she opened the front cover, a small piece of paper flitted into her lap. Giggling, she picked it up and read the pristine handwriting. Fancy script from long ago. Her smile faded as she tucked the journal into her bag, unplugged the laptop, put it away, and left her untouched pizza on the table with a ten dollar bill.
Andre wandered to the nearest rail line and stood by the long row of windows that overlooked the tracks. Lemon, peppermint, and pineapple tickled his nose. He glanced up and saw a beautiful young lady walking toward him. She paused at the other end of the hall and gazed out across the tracks.
His heart fluttered and the note’s message played in his mind.
The longer he watched her, the more he felt he knew her. Compelled to speak to her, he walked toward her and …
… said, “Excuse me, miss, but you look awfully familiar. Have we ever met?”
Eartha looked at the man. She admitted that there was a spark of recognition, but she was unable to recall a time or place. She figured maybe she had seen him around town or perhaps at Phil’s. “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I know you,” she said.
“My name is Andrei,” he said, “and I know this is going to sound crazy, but a very strange note fell out of a book I picked up at a used book store in town. And after reading it, I felt compelled to come here. Then, when I saw you, an overwhelming feeling that you are the reason I’m here came over me.”
Eartha turned pale upon hearing Andrei’s words. “What did the note you found in the book say?” She asked.
Andrei pulled the note out of his pocket and started to read it. “It said, ‘To the one I love.’”
Eartha interrupted Andrei and finished the note, “‘Meet me at our spot,’ right?”
“How did you know that?” Andrei asked.
“I found the same note in a journal that someone handed to me this morning,” Eartha said, showing the note to him. “And like you, I felt the need to come here to this rail station.”
Andrei gazed at the note. “You found this in a journal? May I see it?”
Eartha opened her bag and handed the small, red leather journal with a heart pressed into its cover to Andrei. “Oh my God,” Andrei said as tears started flowing down his cheeks.
“Are you alright? This journal must belong to someone you know,” said Eartha.
It took a few minutes for Andrei to calm himself and when he did, he gave Eartha the biggest hug possible. “Let’s go sit down, have a coffee and I’ll explain everything to you. Only if you have time that is.”
“Yes, I have time and I’m always up for a good story. There’s a little coffee shop around the corner if that’s okay with you.”
“Sure, and by the way, I’m Andrei,” as he extended his hand to her.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Eartha.”
Once in the coffee shop seated across from each other, Eartha began the conversation with, “so tell me, who does the journal belong to?” She couldn’t wait to hear what Andrei had to say.
“About twenty-five years ago when I was in the Navy we were stationed in Italy. It was our last night before returning home and the crew and I were in a little bar celebrating. I happened to be looking at the entrance door and …
… in walked the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen before. I was instantly drawn to her. She had a mystique about her; it floored me. I desperately wanted to get to know her better. In one hand, she carried this very journal you are holding now and in the other, a mug of peppermint tea with lemon. It seemed odd that she would be in this bar rather than a small coffee shop. That just made her even more intriguing!
As she approached, I stood and offered her a seat at the next table which was empty. I needed to talk to her. I introduced myself and she told me her name was Francesca. What started with friendly conversation went long into the night until closing time. Neither of us wanted the evening to end.
The romantic backdrop of the Italian city streets urged us to remain in each other’s company. It was an easy decision as our relationship seemed to deepen with every word we uttered. I believed I was falling in love with Francesca.
In those days, it was unheard of to make love on the first encounter but neither of us cared about what people thought. We ended up back at her apartment and …
…… As we were going up the stairs to her apartment, a man was coming down. Francesca stopped suddenly. She turned rapidly and went into the corridor at that level. Hastily she scribbled something in the journal shoved it in my unwilling hand and told me to go. I stood there seeing her disappear in the building, hoping and willing her to come back. When there was no sign of her after waiting for half an hour, I returned to my lodging and looked at the journal. There were a few sentences written on one page and the rest was black. But I couldn’t understand it because it was in Italian. The next day we moved station and somehow the journal was lost in the move. I have never forgotten her, she made such a deep impression on my heart. And I really don’t understand how you have got her journal after 25 years, and what does this note means?
Eartha thought about the whole amazing sequence of events and said, ” I think what must have happened………
Getting excited in the telling of her story, she continued
‘The man coming down the stairs may have been her father. My Dad was in Italy around that time and had a friend who had a daughter called Francesca. She was brutally killed one night leaving her baby an orphan. My Dad’s friend begged for him to take her as there was no-one else he could trust. Times were hard, a single mother was bad enough, but for a man to raise a child on his own opened him up to all kinds of investigation and he was terrified his grand daughter would be taken away. My Dad agreed to take the child and raise her as his own. That child was me…………………’
Andrei almost dropped his coffee.
‘But how did you get the journal? And why have we both found the same note? I don’t understand.’
‘Neither do I,’ said Eartha frowning. ‘I know you’re not my biological dad though, and to be honest, the man who raised me will always be my father, so I’m not particularly interested but how do you fancy a trip back to Italy to do some digging and perhaps filling in some of the gaps? It’ll be a great story……………………’
“Er ‘scusi’ forgive my intrusion, but l was sitting at the next table drinking my coffee and wondering what to do next, when l overheard your amazing conversation filled with incident and coincidence and l came to realise that you were in fact indirectly talking about me and my products…..”
The voice belonged to a strange looking man with three eyes and five legs who seemingly smelled of lemony mint. “My name is Squiggiddily Journo, although you can call me Squigg to make all of our lives easier. I am a creator of Intergalactical Interactive Imaginative Journals or IIIJ’s for short and today whilst out hawking my wares l happen chanced upon Phil and Jim and asked them to see if they could maybe display my journals in places where people would appreciate them, and if they so chose they could sell or simply give them away …. however in those two journals l had a magical notelet titled ‘To The One I Love Meet Me At Our Spot.”
Andrei and Eartha’s mouths dropped open and they simply looked at each other and Squigg in confusion and awe and ….
I will pass this along to Melanie of Sparks from a combustible mind should she so wish to take up the tale of Eartha, Andrei and Squigg – Part 8.