What Matters Most

This story was written in answer to Fandango’s One Word Challenge. The word I had to use was ‘Precious’

Precious means: Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.

The word ‘Precious’ is special to me. My special sleuth Holly is loving called ‘Precious’ by her footballer Sam, in her for now – forgotten series.

With Holly and Sam in my thoughts – here’s what I came up with. I hope you like it …

What Matters Most

“What’s with you, smiling like you won the lottery.” Paige curled her arm in her boyfriend Ralph’s, nestling against him as they strolled along the beach. Beneath the sultry sun, the relaxing ebb and flow of the warm afternoon tide lapped over their bare toes. The two had been soulmates since the age of twelve. Now twenty-one their affections for one another were just as strong.

 “Oh, I did. Only nine years ago, I didn’t win money. I won everlasting happiness when I met you.” Ralph smoothed his fingers through her long blonde hair as he gave her a little smooch.

“Mmm, thank you, Romeo. So, what’s new with you?” Paige picked a pebble and sent it skipping over the waves. Facing him, she removed her sunglasses revealing her enchanting sapphire eyes. Despite his happiness today, she felt something was amiss. “I know you. What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

Ralph shook his head with an adoring grin. “You’re so beautiful and smart and —”

“Ralph, please. You must tell me.”

“It’s nothing. It’s just …” Ralph caught her about the waist, leaving her squealing as he lifted and lowered her into the sand.

Paige placed her hands on his cheeks hoping to pull him to face her. She felt his lips close to her navel, his fashionable stubble, tickling as he kissed his way around her belly. She giggled and squirmed but he held her until his loving ritual was done. Only then did he allow her to look into his mahogany eyes. “Finished? Now, talk to me, please,” she implored.

Ralph sighed, his hand smoothing her hair. “I’m going to miss you, Paige.”

“What?” she took his hands, squeezing with affection as her heart thumped with worry. “What are you saying?”

“My computer company is shutting its Norfolk branch. I have to move to Edinburgh to continue working. I —”

“Ralph …”

“Shush, let me finish.”

Paige felt tears welling, but she nodded.

“Thank you.” Ralph kissed her. “I know you can’t leave the salon. You and your sister are amazing there. I don’t ever want you to leave the place you love to work in either.”

“But, Ralph …”

“Listen … You stay here and keep the salon rocking. Keep our little home nice for us. I’ll go rent a place in Edinburgh for a year. I’ll finish my projects and then return to love you again.”

❤❤❤

The revelation on the beach had been a month ago. Paige hated the idea of letting Ralph go but she knew she had too. He’d worked so hard on his projects; he simply couldn’t drop them now.

The last few weeks had gone too fast. Ralph wound up his work and had his paperwork sent to Edinburgh and the new offices while Paige worked with growing sadness in the salon. She and Ralph spent every second they could together. Walking hand-in-hand, taking in movies with a sharing bucket of popcorn, dining together. Spending all day in bed together on Sunday had been sheer bliss.

Now, like a sledgehammer to the heart – a shattering dream – it was coming to an end. Ralph stood on the platform under the iron stanchions of the train station, with his suitcase stood beside him. He wasn’t watching for his train; his eyes were glued to Paige.

She adjusted his lapel and smoothed a stray hair from his shoulder. “You’ll be the most handsome man in Edinburgh, you know. Wear a kilt and take a picture for me.”

“I’ll make it a priority.” Ralph pulled her into a hug. “I may be handsome in Edinburgh, but I won’t be happy. I won’t be until I travel the six-hundred miles back to you.”   

The clacking note of an approaching train told of time running short.

“I’ll be here waiting for you. You call me every day and I’ll make you smile on the video chat, I promise.” Paige freed herself, wiping tears from her cheeks. “I’ll … miss … you.”

“Not more than I’ll miss you, sweetheart.” Ralph watched his train stop and disgorge its passengers onto the platform. He embraced Paige again, drawing in her sweet, floral perfume. “Stay safe and keep smiling for me, okay?”

Paige couldn’t help a sob leaving her body. “I’ll do my best, handsome. Now, go get ‘em.” she kissed him one final time and then stepped away. “Go on, before I handcuff and drag you home again.”

“Don’t tempt me.” Ralph smiled and winked, then he was walking down the platform with his case in hand.

Paige swayed on the balls of her feet as she watched him enter the train. She held her ponytail and hugged herself; not knowing if or when she’d ever feel Ralph hugging her again. As she did, she felt something new about her neck. Taking the gold chain in hand she found herself holding a small ruby heart. On the back, it read ‘Hold my heart until I return – Love eternally Ralph.’ “What a slushy Romeo.” She said to herself with a tearful smile at the gift. She realised Ralph must have slipped it on when he hugged her last.

Paige couldn’t see him on the train but she waved as it left. Then with a sadness laying heavy on her heart, she walked away from the platform. The bustling coffee shops, newsagent and bakery were lost to her. He’d been gone for seconds; she was already missing him.

Her phone was ringing in her bag.

“Ugh, not now!” she groaned while digging it out from between her hairbrush and antiperspirant. Not looking at the screen, she answered it with an annoyed flick. “Yeah, Paige speaking …”

“Turn around.”

“Ralph?” Paige felt her heart flutter in her chest. She faced the platform and there with his phone to his ear was Ralph.

He beamed and waved to her.

Paige almost dropped her phone. Her eyes flooding with joy, she ran through the crowds to him.

Ralph threw open his arms and caught her with a deep sigh of relief.

“Sweetheart, you should be on the train to Edinburgh.” Paige freed herself and kissed him in a moment of pure euphoria. “Why are you here?”

“I’d just sat down on the train when I received an answer to an email I sent to my boss on Thursday.” Ralph grinned. “Now, I’m not going to Edinburgh anymore.”

“I don’t understand. You didn’t quit, did you?” Paige wiped her eyes, her hand shaking as she took his.

“No,” Ralph smoothed his hand over her cheek. “I’m going to be working from home with you by my side from now on.”

“That’s fantastic! But how?” Paige felt herself tingling all over – she couldn’t believe it.

“I told my boss his pay rise meant nothing to me and neither did a nice new office with views over a castle. I realised none of it matters if you’re unhappy. I told him if I can’t be with and love you every day my ability to work would fade away. He agreed and just this morning made the arrangements for me to stay.”

“I don’t believe it. You gave up so much money for me.” Paige put her head on his chest.

“I did – I don’t need it. You see, you were my lottery win nine years ago. So, long as I have you, my precious, Paige – I’ll be the richest man in the world.

Paige broke into a beautiful smile. “I love you, Ralph.” She knew then as they left the station, she wouldn’t stop smiling for the longest time to come.

The End.


Thanks for reading my friends. As always there are more stories to be enjoyed (I hope) in the Short Stories tab.

Have a great day!


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4 thoughts on “What Matters Most

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    1. Thank you, Jim. I agree the meaning of love is very much demoted these days. I’ve never had the luxury. Yet I’ve seen others who treat each other like light switches, or worse don’t love at all but rather use. Maybe stories like this will show the old and proper way.

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