By Vivienne Blake.
I’m a normal sort of a chap – can’t say romance is my scene. I’m more of a practical turn of mind. You know, a new set of saucepans for Christmas and a cook book for her birthday.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I love her to bits. So it gave me a jolt to realize that it would soon be our ruby wedding. What to do, that’s the question. Bella’s not the type to hanker for jewellery, even if I could have afforded rubies.
It was while I was showering after a workout at the gym that the idea came to me. Instead of going to the gym, if I were to…. Yes. That’s it. I’d met this music teacher in the Lion the other week – a good bloke; nothing namby pamby about him.
So, decision taken. My plan was to serenade Bella under a balcony, somewhere romantic. It took a bit of organizing – for a start, I couldn’t sing for toffee. In fact, I’ve a voice like an angry frog. And I’d never learned to read music. I wouldn’t be able to practice at home, and where could I keep an instrument?
But the plan started to come to fruition. I’d miss my gym sessions. I knew that the pounds would pile on, but it couldn’t be helped. The lessons were an eye-opener. I hadn’t concentrated so hard since I learned to drive thirty years ago. But I found an unsuspected musical talent lurking somewhere under my normal pragmatism. Slowly the serenade piece was learned, polished and perfected.
Then it all went pear-shaped. Home-time, sports bag ostentatiously dumped in the hall. “I’m back, dear,” stating the obvious being another of my failings. Bella emerged from the kitchen, drying her hands on a tea-towel. Something in her look told me I was out of favor.
“Don, where have you been?”
“To the gym, of course, where d’you think, it’s Friday.” I was not lying – I always slipped in for a quick shower on my way home so that my towel would be wet.
“Don’t lie to me. I met Joan, and Brian had told her he hadn’t seen you for weeks. She wondered if you were OK.”
I groaned inside. What could I do? Panic. I’d have to come clean.
“Erm. Bella, my love, I’ve got something to tell you…”
At this point Bella burst out crying. “I knew it,” she spluttered. “How could you? Who is she?”
My heart lurched. Now what could I say? “It’s a bloke called George Howell. He’s a music teacher.”
Bella wailed and the sobs intensified. I rushed to explain.
“No, love, it’s not what you think. I was hoping to surprise you on our anniversary. Now it’s all gone wrong. I knew I should have stuck to something safe and normal for a present.”
“What … what do you mean?” The sobs had slowed to a hiccup.
“I’ve been learning to play the violin so that I could serenade you on our anniversary. We’re going to Salzburg for a week – I’ve booked us into that chalet hotel – you know – where we had our honeymoon.”
“Don’t tell me another thing. I don’t want to know.” The tears started afresh but at least Bella flung her arms round my neck and … well, you don’t want to know the rest. You do? Oh well, we went to Salzburg, and while Bella was getting ready for our anniversary dinner, I stood outside, under our first floor balcony, and played Parlez-moi d’Amour. Before I’d played the first few bars, waiters and diners were cheering me on and Bella was crying again. Pity about the surprise, though.
VIVIENNE BLAKE is a retired public relations consultant living in rural France. Having achieved a BA at the age of 72, she now writes mainly poetry – in fact some of her first poems and stories were published in early issues of Long Story Short. This story can be found on Vivienne’s blog at https://vivinfrance.wordpress.com/fiction/dons-story/ along with her poems and memoirs.