Vivienne snuggled up onto the couch with Stephanie Grant, her granddaughter. Vivienne’s daughter Fiona and her husband Lee had gone out for the evening, Stephanie was always excited to visit Grandma and tonight was no exception.
“Tell me the one about how you met Grandad,” Stephanie squealed.
“Oh dear, you’ve heard that one a million times,” Vivienne chuckled.
“Oh, ok then. Cosy in and I’ll start from the beginning”
The small blonde haired girl tentatively made her way towards the play park. Her parents had never brought her to the park before, in fact, she couldn’t remember a time when her parents took her anywhere. She could see, Maria, her nanny at the other side of the playground speaking with another woman, she’d never seen this woman before but she didn’t let it interest her too much.
The screaming and yelling from the park was intriguing to her, she was an only child and hadn’t been around kids at all. Her weekends were spent sitting quietly at the table as Father entertained his work colleagues and Mother busied herself in the kitchen. Her thoughts were interrupted as a ginger boy starting talking to her.
“Hellooooo,” he was waving his hands in her face, “what’s wrong with you?”
“Pardon?” she responded, “nothing is wrong with me.”
“Well, you coulda fooled me. Watcha starin’ at?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s my first time here, I just wasn’t sure what the proper etiquette would be?”
“Ety-what? You talk funny, what’s your name?”
“Vivienne Abigail Montrose-Walker, pleasure” and she thrust her hand out.
The boy took up her offer but rather than the handshake she was expecting, she received a shock.
The boy burst out laughing and ran towards the other kids, “I’m Xander Logan, c’mon Vivi let’s go play!”
“It’s Vivienne,” she called out after him.
Little Vivienne slowly walked towards the park, then took a seat to watch the other kids play. Before she knew it, Xander had grabbed the seat next to Vivienne and starting asking her a lot of questions.
“How come’s you’re not playing? Where are you parents? I’ve not seen you before, why aren’t you at my school?”
Vivienne blinked, “Didn’t your Mother and Father teach you manners? It’s rude to ask so many questions of a stranger”
“Well, if you would just answer my questions then you wouldn’t be a stranger, would you?” Xander laughed, “besides, it’s just me, Ma and my older brother so I’m guessing she’s not had time for these manners you’re on about. I better get home now though, it’s getting dark. See you later, Vivi!”
“It’s Vivienne,” she sighed again.
When she returned home from the park she spoke with Mother and Father about her day and told them all about the little boy she had met. Father said he knew of the Logan family and banned little Vivienne from visiting the park and especially from spending time with the Logan boy.
As the summers passed by, turning into winter and back again, Vivienne stuck her nose into her books. She found escape in the adventures of her characters and regularly spent entire days getting lost in the stories, stories of pirates, princesses, dragons and mysterious lands, how she longed to be part of that world.
Father had passed while Vivienne was a teen, she had aged into a young adult and had been through the family library at least twice. The nights had started to grow longer so Vivienne took her favourite book and headed out to find a quiet place to read. She came across a bench surrounded by flowers and trees, next to a babbling brook.
Just as Vivienne was finishing the first chapter something blotted the sun that was lightly beating on her. She squinted slightly as she looked up. What she saw, staring back at her was a man, around her age. His hair shone in the sun, he looked different to the men she had met previously with tattoos on his arms. Vivienne immediate felt a lurch in her stomach, something she had never felt before.
“Excuse me, sir,” she started, “but if you’d be so kind as to step aside, you’ve cast a shadow over my reading.”
“Not a problem, sweetie,” he replied, “here, do I know you?”
The man had settled down next to Vivienne, “No, I don’t think so,” she replied politely.
“I do, but where from?”
Vivienne turned to look at the person sitting next to her, she took in the red hair and softly tanned skin of the man. There was no denying that he looked familiar but she couldn’t quite place it.
“VIVI!” he exclaimed, “the weird girl from the park”
“My name is…” Vivienne started.
“Vivienne, yeah I know but Vivi is a cute nickname, you’ll learn to love it. What you doin’ out here on your own?”
“I’m just reading my book, I like coming out here to read, it’s relaxing” there was a quiver in Vivienne’s voice and the feeling in her stomach was intensifying.
“Is that so?” Xander looked her up and down, “look, a few of us are heading out tonight. You should come, loosen up a bit.”
“Oh, thank you for the invite. I couldn’t possibly, I don’t even know you.”
“Sure you do, I’m Xander, remember? We’ve known each other since we were kids, play the game!”
“I’ll think about it”
“Nice one, that’s all I need to hear. I better head off, Ma’s expecting me back any time now. See you later, Vivi,” and with that Xander got up and jogged off into the distance.
Vivienne picked up her things and returned home. She knew she wouldn’t be going anywhere with Xander .
A few years had passed and Vivienne had not bumped into Xander since their last meeting. Somehow, she couldn’t shake the shine his red hair had when the sun hit off it, or the one sided smile he had shown her during their last encounter. However, he was not to the standards expected of her family and soon she was promised to Anton Granada, the son of one of Fathers old business associates.
Anton was charming and any girl would be delighted to be courted by him, his father owned several local businesses and she knew by marrying into the Granada family, Vivienne would be taken care of for life. With her nose constantly stuck in a book, she was unsure if her feelings for Anton were really the true love she had read about.
“Vivienne, darling,” Anton interrupted Vivienne’s train of though, “our mothers will be waiting for you at the dressmakers. You must hurry, you cannot keep them waiting.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Anton, I hadn’t even noticed the time.”
“Well, maybe if you spent less time with your head in the clouds this wouldn’t be a concern. Really, Vivienne, the wedding is in less than a week.”
Vivienne rose from her chair and accepted a kiss on the cheek from Anton, she set off on her way into town. It was a beautiful day outside, so Vivienne had chosen to walk to the store.
Vivienne spent the rest of her morning trying on dress after dress, with her Mother and future Mother-in-law critiquing each line of lace, stitching, pearl and ruffle that was adorned upon the dresses. After finally settling on a choice of gown, Vivienne left with the intention of returning straight home, instead she found herself drawn to the park.
The sounds of the children playing took her straight back to her childhood, to her first meeting with Xander, she took a seat and watched as the children played. She hadn’t been aware of the fact someone had sat next to her.
“Well, I never.”
Vivienne jumped she turned and found Xander sitting there.
“Mr Logan, one could make the assumption that you are following me. Why is it that you always seem to appear wherever I am?”
Xander laughed, “oh Vivi, are you sure it’s not you who is following me around? After all, I was here first”
Vivienne smiled, her stomach bubbling with excitement at just being around him.
“What happened with you? I seem to remember I asked you out on a date and you stood me up”
“A…date?” Vivienne blushed, “I don’t think that was the case”
“Oh, it was, but that ship has sailed. You missed your chance sunshine!” Xander winked at Vivienne, “besides, I heard you’ve got yourself a nice little set up going with the Granada’s, is that true?”
Vivienne slowly nodded, not lifting her head to look at Xander.
“Well, in that case then you better come with me,” Xander stood up and took Vivienne’s hand, “C’mon kiddo, don’t you trust me?”
Vivienne looked up and met Xanders eye, something about him just put her at ease. She took a deep breath, grabbed his hand and let him lead her away from the park.
“It’s beautiful, isnt it?” Xander whispered.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Vivienne looked in wonder, Xander had brought her to Granite Falls, she dipped her toe in the cool water and felt it sweep back and forth. Which each wave she felt her feet sink into the land further.
Vivienne had lost track of time but soon Xander was grabbing her arm, “C’mon, I’ve got something to show you”
He pulled Vivienne into a quite, secluded area of the wooded area and lay down, “down you come, princess”
“Um, I don’t think so. There is absolutely no way I am getting down in the dirt”
“Fine,” Xander shrugged, “suit yourself but you’re missing out”
Vivienne eventually gave in and crouched down on the ground, “ok, so what am I looking at?”
Xander spent the next few hours pointing out the constellations, the sun had completely disappeared from the sky.
“I better get going,” Vivienne got up and started to walk away.
“Hang on there,” Xander called after her, “run away with me”
“Don’t be so ludicrous, I’m to be married soon, I love Anton.”
“Do you, though? Really, ’cause it doesn’t seem that way to me, why else would you have spent the entire day with me, eh?”
Xander reached out and held Vivienne’s hand, he leaned in and kissed her.
“Xander, stop,” Vivienne pushed him away and rushed away out of the woods to return home.
It was the morning of her wedding and Vivienne was sat in her room, she was dressed, she was ready to be married. She looked out of her bedroom window and saw all the guests beginning to take their seats. The violinist was tuning her bow and Anton was stood, drink in hand, laughing with his father.
Vivienne’s mother quietly knocked on the door, she let herself in.
“My darling girl, you look exquisite, but why the long face? Are you not pleased?”
“Oh mother, of course I’m please. Who wouldn’t be with this situation? I just don’t think…”
“Hush now child,” Vivienne’s mother smiled at her, “I recognise that look, it was on I had when I met your father. Go now, I’ll take care of this.”
Vivienne looked her mother in the eye, she nodded slowly and walked out of her room, she made her way down the stairs and out the front door. Her pace quickened and soon she was running. She hadn’t made a plan of where she was running to but she knew in her heart where she had to go.
The place they first met, it was now their spot. As Vivienne turned the corner in to the park she saw the mop of red hair shining in the sun.
“Xander,” she yelled.
Xander looked up and saw Vivienne bolting towards him, still in full wedding attire.
“Vivi, what the plum? We’ve not even had our first date yet,” Xander chuckled.
“Shut up,” Vivienne whispered and pulled Xander into a long embrace.
“And that, my dear, is the story of how I met your Grandad,” Vivienne soothed, she looked at her granddaughter and saw that she was already fast asleep.
Vivienne got up from her seat and rested the small girls head on the sofa, she walked round to the back of her house and sat on the bench in her garden.
She’d arranged for it to be moved shortly after the funeral, it was their bench after all. She began to feel the chill in her bones and so returned to her home, curling up into her warm bed with a smile on her face, Vivienne entered her favourite story during slumber.
The one where she is in the forest, staring at the sky and listening to Xander tell her all about what was out there. Vivienne took her last breath that night, she died peacefully in her sleep and will now be with her true love forever.