It was a late summer afternoon and the car was moving swiftly on the highway. The man on wheels, William – tall and masculine with cleft chin ran his fingers through his classic quiff hair and looked at her sitting beside – Sofia, Sophie as he fondly called her. With a heart shaped face and perfect cupid bow lips, to him, she was the most beautiful woman on earth. She was still engrossed in the novel that she had started reading when they began the journey an hour back. He smiled at her with his dimples distinct as she tucked her short hair behind the ears and eagerly turned the next page.
His biceps twitched behind his tight T-shirt as he suddenly steered off-road and he drove through a lane into a distant land which seemed unknown to the world. As the SUV screeched to halt, the inertia kept Sofia moving forward and the seat belt restrained her back. For the first time lifting her head off the book, she was taken off guard seeing the barren land around.
“Where are we Willie?” she asked clearing her throat.
“You were so occupied in the book; so I thought of gaining some attention”, he smiled with an unusual charm.
She let out a deep breath and replied, “This author is driving me nuts. Can you believe this fantasy? Crazy! But there is something about it that makes me keep reading”
He nodded, “Yes, I know. In fact, I am the one who gifted you the novel. But don’t skip the pages. You will lose the thrill!”
Agreeing, she looked around; there was an old partially broken park bench, few thorny bushes here and there, a tumbleweed tumbling at a distance near a withered stone structure and the place was otherwise totally deserted. As she turned back, she saw him walking away and she shouted “Hey, where are you going?”. He replied without turning back “You care?” sounding more interrogative.
She was scared but she trusted him. Though they had met only a few months back, they both got closer within days. They had many things in common – books, travel and arts. With him, she felt she could to be her true self. When her mother accidentally fell down and got injured couple of weeks back, he rushed to their help and had been a pillar of support until she recovered. She had developed a special liking towards him lately, but she wasn’t certain if it was mutual. There was always positive vibrancy from him but the same time, she sensed some aura of mystery around him which delayed her from moving their relationship further.
She decided to sit on the bench and continue reading the book until he returned.
“The Princess was adorned in glazing golden gown and she looked like a golden statue in the glowing moonlight. The Prince couldn’t blink his eyes looking at her. He remembered the first time when he saw her, she was adoring a rose. He yearned if he would at least get the love of her that the rose received. But tonight he knows he will get the love, her and all. Though he envied the roses for winning her love before he did, he had designed a large garden with all varieties of them from across the world to present her a surprise.
He rushed to her and gently took her hand in his, resisting his urge to kiss. He signalled the men at arms and palace maids to take a leave and they instantly obeyed him and departed in no time. He then walked her through a secret passage to a land -a wonderland she thought as she stood stunned at its beauty. “More wonders awaiting you!”, he whispered in her ears reading her mind. They walked on the floating marble walkway in the middle of the river to the waterfalls. As they neared the falls, it suddenly split into two paving way to a cave behind. He smiled and gestured her welcome.
The familiar fragrance of roses filled her with awe and in a few steps, she was astound at the sight of hundreds and thousands of them together – in all colours and all shades. They were artistically grown with decorated aisles in between all running to the hexagonal glass room with domed roof at the centre. She took her time to marvel at the roses and the mighty Prince waited patiently behind treasuring every moment with her.
When they finally reached the glass room, the curtain over a large stand unveiled revealing the Prince’s painting of her with the rose. The Princess froze for a moment and animatedly turned to the Prince. “I painted it with my eyes closed for the second I saw you, you didn’t pass through my eyes but pierced through my heart..!”. As she looked down blushing, he put his arms around her, pulled her close and uttered those words of his love…”
It was only when she couldn’t read the text clearly did she realize that the Sun is setting fast and the darkness is settling in. She was now startled and started shouting frantically “Will, are you there?” and there was no response.
“Willie, stop playing. I’m really scared” her voice terrified.
She shouted at the top of her voice “William..” and he was nowhere to be seen. He couldn’t be seen as well for it was now pitch dark everywhere.
And then it happened all of a sudden like a magic spell. The Moon rose above the horizon within seconds like a video fast forwarded and it looked ginormous as though it has been pulled close to Earth spreading bright cool light. Her eyes widened and she stared with mouth agape at the once deserted land turned into a well decorated garden with wide varieties of flowers and ornamental plants arranged in patterns and bordered by trees along the alleys. The broken park bench now looked like a Royal couch with intricate floral carving on the front base and upper back painted in gold with red velvet upholstery supported by beautifully carved legs.
The withered stone piece has become a white marble stone four layered gothic fountain with water flowing steadily and the droplets dazzled like diamonds in the moonlight. She strode bewildered yet breath taken gripping the book tightly and was stopped by the canal across. Zephyr of fragrance ruffled her short hair at forehead and carried with it red petals and dropped them on the water forming a straight path of red carpet welcome. Reluctantly, she placed her right foot over the petals and surprisingly the water didn’t wet her. She crossed the canal walking over the petals.
And there he stood, William with his hands on hips turned away from her facing the moon on the cliff beyond. Even from distance, she could see his toned arms in the moonlight. Suddenly she felt some movement under her foot and in next moment, the climbers burgeoned in the shape of stairsase towards the cliff and as she climbed up, the flowers on tread bloomed. Just as she reached the top, he turned towards her and smiled bright. Sofia, still struggling to sense if it was a daydream or nightmare walked stealthily towards him.
“Are you the Prince?” she swallowed in surprise that she hardly heard herself.
“The King!” proclaimed he raising his chin and then lowered it looking her eyes with love and mellowing his tone “My Queen”
She shook her head in disbelief with her chest pounding fast and she gasped for air. She wanted it all to be a dream as much as she wished it to be true.
He then reached for her hands and uttered those words of his love:
“Sophie, You are the treasure of my quest, my Queen. Be my sunshine, be my moonlight, be my reason to breathe. Let your talks be my music; Let your smile make same magic. Let your smooch seal me; Let your touch heal me. Show your love and spare my life. Let not even the death part us apart. With you, even forever is short!”
She didn’t move, she didn’t blink, but her eyes welled up. As the first drop of tear trickled down her cheek, he quickly wiped it and kissed her. The moon hid behind clouds, the flowers drooped to bow and the fountain stood still. Seconds later, she kissed him back dropping down the book and it read “They happily lived ever after” and the wind flipped the remaining pages which were empty!