A LOVE FOR ALL TIME
I saw a short video on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I thought that the idea of it was absolutely beautiful and wondered if I could make a ‘lesbian’ version of it. As it wasn’t my concept but these are my words I don’t plan to profit from it and I’m putting it out here free. I hope you enjoy my short story.
As Mada looked into the empty chapel she spotted her granddaughter sitting halfway down the aisle. She stopped for a moment to take in the beauty of her wedding dress, the fine satin of it contrasting beautifully with her tan skin and porcelain like features. Her dark hair stood out brilliantly against the startling white of the lace that surrounded her face and shoulders. Mada sighed blissfully seeing how beautiful she looked. Slowly she walked down the aisle towards her and when she reached her she gently put her shaking hand on her shoulder.
Harriett looked up and smiled into her grandmother’s wise old face. She didn’t see the mass of wrinkles; instead she saw the kind and knowing eyes that had never led her astray. She saw the strength behind her now curving and decrepit body, the resilience that had kept her with them for so many years. “Hello Grandma,” she said giving her a brilliant smile as she lifted her own hand to pat her grandmothers.
“Harriett, what is wrong my child?” Mada asked concerned.
“Nothing is wrong Grandma. It’s my wedding day. What could be wrong?” she hedged.
“Harry, I know you too well for you to fool this old lady,” she teased pointing at herself with her thumb.
Harriett smiled at the nickname that her parents detested. Only a select few, her grandmother among them, were allowed to call her that. “I wonder if perhaps I married too young? I’m only twenty two. I have my whole life before me!”
Mada smiled as her granddaughter panicked for a moment. “You have to ask yourself, do you love her?”
Harriett smiled instantly and nodded. “With all my heart Grandma,” she answered truthfully.
Mada shared the smile for a moment before she asked, “But do you like her?”
“I just told you I loved…” she began but was cut off by her grandmother with a hand gesture that was like a chopping motion.
“I know you told me you love her but do you like her?”
Harry looked puzzled for a moment as she tried to figure out what her cryptic grandmother was asking and once she realized she nodded enthusiastically. “Yes Grandma, I like her very much.”
“Good, because after the love has weathered a few years you have to like the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with.”
Harriett nodded in agreement. Grandma was always giving her these little bits of wise advice.
“As to marrying young, you are older than your years and Gail, well, she has some weathering to do but I can see you are up to the job.” She smiled to take the edge off her words as she saw Harriett ready to leap to the defense of her wife.
“But it isn’t even legal in our state. We had to come here to make our dreams come true,” she said a bit dispiritedly.
“Someday it will be legal everywhere. Just in my lifetime I have seen some changes I can’t even imagine,” she said and a wistful note came into her voice as she recollected.
“Do you miss Grandpa?” she asked knowingly, it would have been wonderful to have him here for this special occasion.
“That old coot, of course I miss him! He was supposed to die after I did!” she said indignantly. Then she shook her head as she continued, “But it wasn’t him I was thinking of…” She looked at her beautiful granddaughter and made a decision to confide in her. “You know Grandpa wasn’t my first love?”
“No? Really? Who was he?” she asked eager to hear one of her grandmother’s stories. They spanned such a long life and many decades she was always eager to hear them. They were of a time long gone and she cherished the memories her grandmother could share with her.
Her grandmother looked at her for a moment, tears threatened in her wise brown eyes for a moment before she took a deep breath to share her story with her granddaughter. “She was a good friend,” she stated quietly.
Harriett looked at her grandmother in absolute surprise, her jaw dropped open. “What was her name? What happened to her?” she asked needing to know now as she realized the import of the statement.
Her grandmother looked back over the years remembering Berlin and how free and open it had been so long ago. “It was during the war, before it got bad,” she began, her voice a little shaky at the memory of the girl she knew so long ago. “Ingrid was beautiful. She made me feel beautiful.”
Harriett could see that the memories hurt a bit and she hesitated to ask again but couldn’t help herself. “What happened to her?” she asked quietly, afraid she already knew.
Mada swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat to answer the query, “It was verboten to be lesbisch in those days. If you were caught they sent you to a camp, supposedly to rehabilitate you.” Her voice caught as she remembered the day they took Ingrid. She had no fear in her eyes as she bravely faced her accusers. “Before she left she broke a fork in two and handed me half of it for luck,” she said as she fumbled with her purse and pulled out the two pronged fork with the yellow wooden handle.
“I’ve seen you with that!” Harriett exclaimed.
She nodded as she remembered and continued, “I never saw her again. My family swore we were ‘only’ friends but Ingrid didn’t deny to them what we had been and they took her away.”
“Oh Grandma, that’s so tragic,” she said sadly.
She nodded again, her head feeling as though it were not quite attached to her neck. “They found your grandfather for me soon afterwards. He was very understanding and patient with me,” she said as she remembered smiling a little secret smile as she remembered what a hard time she had given him. “He became my best friend.”
Harriett had remembered their teasing. If people hadn’t known them so well they would have thought it was a constant fight between the two old Germans but instead it had been a friendly battle of wills, who could top the other in the teasing that went on affectionately between them.
“Does Mom know?” she asked wondering if being a lesbian was an inherited thing.
She shook her head. “She never needed to know,” she said wisely. “She loved your grandfather very much and as an only child he spoiled her terribly.”
Harriett nodded and wondered if her mother’s attitude towards Gail would have changed sooner had she known that her own mother once had a lesbian lover.
“Here,” she said holding the broken fork out to her granddaughter. “I want you to keep this now, for luck,” she said sagely.
“Oh Grandma, thank you! I will cherish this, and your story,” she told her as she took the fork in the palm of her hand and wrapped her fingers around it before standing and throwing her arms around her grandmother in a hug.
“Do you feel better now Harry?” she asked with a grin, her eyes no longer tear-filled but sparkling in delight at her only grandchild’s exuberance.
“Much Grandma, you’re the best!” she said heart-felt as she pulled back and looked down again upon the broken fork. It symbolized so much. It had traveled such a distance of time and space to be here in her hand.
“Excuse me,” the photographer interrupted. “We need to finish some family photos if you would?” she asked respectfully.
“Of course,” Harriett said immediately and with her arm around her grandmothers bent shoulders she escorted her from the chapel into the reception area.
“What’s that?” Gail asked seeing Harriett clutching something in her hand tightly.
“Oh my grandmother gave me this for luck,” she said showing her bride the broken fork.
“Really?” Gail asked amazed and reaching into her tuxedo jacket pocket she pulled out a wooden handle. “My grandmother gave me this for luck too!” she said showing her the piece. “She told me the most extraordinary story!”
The two of them put the pieces close to each other only to find they fit together…perfectly. They looked at each other startled as they realized what it meant and both looked up as the photographer called.
“Let’s get a shot of the brides with their grandparents please,” she called.
Mada shuffled forward as she was called and then the grandmother of the other bride came into sight. The two of them saw each other for the first time. Mada was the first one to ask, “Ingrid?”
The hair may have turned gray but the eyes were the same, the startled smile, the cheekbones that rose with the smile as she exclaimed, “Mada?”
Gail and Harry were beaming as their grandmothers came together in a hug that only the four of them knew was decades in the making.