(This is the short story I submitted for Utah Children's Writers in April.)
Every night I lay lonely in some low class dive, I took out her story and read it, certain to find a clue for me. Tonight, I am back in the same dingy hotel room I started in when I covered her wedding five years ago.
This time I reported on the death of a famous tribe lord: her would-be-husband. I found out he had taken twenty wives, seven in just the last year. It was a great accomplishment for man of his years. Plus, he had 46 sons and counting.
I returned to the hotel, wrote and sent off my story and read hers again. Ellis. She told me of her favorite flower, Jasmine and she loved her parents deeply.
When I checked out, I asked the manager where Ellis’ family had moved.
“They didn’t move,” he whispered. “They shut themselves up in their house after their daughter ran away from her wedding. Poor family. Ruined them for life.”
The smoldering coals I held so carefully in my heart burst into flame. She was here? I left my bags and sprinted into the streets. I wandered everywhere and nowhere, waiting for the sun to go down.
I needed to find her. I don’t remember when I first understood I was in love. From the moment I interviewed Ellis, I couldn’t get her deep, brown eyes from my mind. At the time, she was engaged to a wealthy tribal king who ensured protection for her father’s smaller tribe.
I waited until dark to knock on the front door. No answer. I peeked in the windows. No light. I jogged around to the backyard. The place was empty.
I ran back to the hotel, my legs and lungs burning.
“Mr. Jonas! A message for you!” the manager said as he waved his arms.
“I don’t have time!” I grabbed my things.
He stopped moving. “She waits for you by the pool.”
All the times I read her story, all the places I looked for her after she ran away, and I never planned what I would say to her.
I hurried to the hotel pool. The smell of Jasmine hit my nose. I glanced at the water, full of floating white flowers.
“I’ve waited for you to return for so long,” her soft voice announced from a darkened corner. I peered through the dark. Two figures stepped forward—mother and daughter. I bowed my head in respect to the older woman. I glanced up; tears glistened on her cheeks.
“Please take care of her.” She pushed her forward with a little nudge and left.
“Where to princess?” I asked, as I wrapped my arms around her.
“Some place I can read your story.”