“Why so cheap? Tell me again,” he asked over the phone. “I mean, what she’s charging will hardly pay her bills? How is she making money?”
“She isn’t” his lady friend replied. “She’s just looking for good company. It is, after all, in the middle of nowhere. She doesn’t get many visitors, and that’s why I stay with her. It’s the perfect place for you to finish your story.”
“Okay, I leave day after tomorrow,” he said. “Mail me directions please.”
Two days later, driving downhill on the final leg of his trip, he was captured by the warmth and charm of his new retreat. The place was perfect for reflection, isolated, peaceful in its quiet glory. His friend had been on point. He’d left the nearest town half an hour back where he’d picked up groceries. Looking at the cottage nestled in the foothills, he had to smile. It was beautiful!
Though small, it had an exquisite garden and a little garage. As he neared, he realized the building, while not in the best condition, bore a sort of heritage charm. When he drove up, he was greeted by a charming older lady sweeping her front porch.
“She told me you were a handsome young man,” she said with a smile. “Welcome to my humble abode. Did you pick up groceries?”
“I did,” he said. “Just as you requested.”
“Good. That town over the hills is where I shop. All my groceries come from there but for the few things I grow in my little kitchen garden. Trips back and forth can be a nuisance for someone looking to escape the rat race of the world. We can cook together, or you may cook for yourself, if you’d prefer.”
“Together sounds more fun,” he said. “Perhaps you can teach me a thing or two. I’m not very good at cooking.”
She smiled. “Seven days, right?”
“Yes, give or take, unless someone else is coming at the end of seven days, in which case I’ll vacate even if I am not finished.”
“No one is coming,” she said with a smile. “Stay as long as you need to.”
She mostly left him to himself, knowing he was there to finish a book, and she never asked about it. But they chatted over tea and while cooking and eating together. By the third day he was comfortable enough to ask if she had children and if they ever visited.
“Never married,” she said. “Never could find time. This was supposed to be our home when we married, but the rebellion took priority. We wanted the country to be free, and by the time our people won their freedom, he’d found his, with a bullet in his heart, instead of me.”
In the following days he learnt about her past and how she built the house they’d hoped to live in–as a tribute to their sacrifice and to their love. Her story touched him deeply, and he forgot what he had come to write.
Some of the people in the town over the hill knew of her, but nobody remembered her story anymore. She had barely enough money to get by and the house–her homage to her one true love, wasn’t being kept up as it should have been. Yet she desired nothing. She made no money from the few people who chose to stay with her in her little paradise. Her story needed to be told and with her permission, he began to write it.
He stayed two weeks beyond his planned departure date and continued to write her story after returning to the city. A year later, the story was finished, and the book got immense praise from from critics and readers alike. He made his mark in the industry and went on to complete the story he’d previously intended to write.
He sent funds to her for the repair and maintenance of her home. How could do any less? After all, it was her story that launched him to literary fame. Now, he thought, she’d have enough to care for her little place and live a happy life. He went on to write best-sellers and forged ahead with a busy, demanding life.
Five years later, he was invited to talk at the university in the town atop the hill, and he set aside time to pay a visit to his friend. His first book, he discovered, had sold like hot cakes there, and townsfolk recognized him instantly from his picture on the cover. He told folks there he planned to visit his old friend.
“But she died some time ago,” an elderly lady told him, surprised he hadn’t heard.
“I didn’t know! I’ve been so busy. When?” he asked, eyes swelling with tears.
“Just after your book started selling here,” she replied.
“It was her heart. Anxiety, I think. She wasn’t used to people hounding her. The notoriety created too much stress, some said.”
Tears rolled down his face. “Would it be alright with the new residents if I paid a visit to her memorial?”
“You can check in if you’d like,” the woman replied. “Stay a few days. They probably have rooms this time of year since they built the new wing last summer. It’s a going resort now, you know?”
About the Author
Hi, My name is Shobhit Dabral and I’m working on my first book which is a work of fiction and deals with some ideas I’ve always been fascinated with.
Connect With The Author at shobhitdabral.com
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