One is Just Enough
"Wow, nine-thirty already!"
"Awww," whined tiny Lilia, pulling her ponytails over her eyes. "I don't wanna go to bed yet."
Her grandmother smiled tenderly and picked Lilia up. Lilia's two older sisters, Marie and Vivy, groaned in sync. "I'm not tired though!" said Marie.
"Now, now," their grandmother said sternly. "Bedtime is bedtime. Besides . . ." A twinkle sparked in her eyes, behind her thick glasses. "If you cooperate, I will tell you a bedtime story."
The three girls perked. "Story?" they chimed, smiles spreading across their faces. Before their grandmother knew it, Marie and Vivy were brushing their teeth, Lilia scrambling out of her arms to keep up with her sisters. In only a few minutes, they were tucked into their beds, comfy in their nightgowns, and calling for their grandmother to come in.
"Alright," began their grandmother, settling down into a rocking chair. "Gather 'round and Grammy can begin."
Marie, Vivy, and Lilia sat in an arc on the floor in front of their grandmother.
"What story shall I tell you?" Grammy asked.
"A ghost story!" suggested Vivy.
"An adventure story!" tried Marie.
Lilia put her index finger on her bottom lip, looking confused. "They sound scary. I want . . . a love story!"
"Ooh!" squealed Marie and Vivy. "Yeah yeah! A love story!"
"Very well," concluded Grammy. She tapped her chin, thinking, and saying "hum" under her breath in thought. Then a huge smile appeared on her lips. "I have the perfect story," she said triumphantly.
"Tell it, tell it!" the three granddaughters begged.
"Alright, alright," chuckled Grammy. "It's the story of a girl named Clementine."
"That's a pretty name!" chirped Lilia, who then received harsh "shhhs!" from her older sisters.
"Clementine was a beautiful young girl," Grammy continued. "She lived in a small village in the woods. She was sweet, kind, intelligent, fun loving-she had it all, concluded the villagers. But what was puzzling about her was her strange opinion on love. She loved no one and had never loved anyone. She was much too focused on reading and learning of the outside world on the other side of the village walls. Many men sought after her for her perfection, but she always kindly turned them down."
Grammy paused for a moment and noticed with an amused grin that the three girls were hanging onto her every word.
"When Clementine was seventeen, a new family moved into the village. The family consisted of a mother, a father, a handsome son named Simon, and his younger sister, Quinn. Despite the fact that Clementine had many good friends, she ventured one afternoon to meet and welcome Quinn, who turned out to be Clementine's age.
"The two girls hit it off immediately. Quinn had so much information for Clementine about the outside world and Clementine was fascinated. Clementine helped Quinn get settled in her new home and helped her get around the village. They became very close.
"But then, during one sleepover at Quinn's house one night, something happened that would change their lives forever."
"What! What!" Marie, Vivy, and Lilia said desperately.
"Quinn kissed Clementine."
There was a moment of silence. Grammy paused to let the information sink in. She kept herself occupied by watching the firelight of the room's candles dance on the walls, the dark night sky, the creamy crescent moon, the wind blow the branches of the huge oak tree outside the window back and forth in a dreamy lullaby.
Finally Grammy spoke. "Shall I continue?"
"Wait," said Vivy, looking very confused. "A girl kissed a girl?"
"Yes," said Grammy. "Because this is a love story, remember?"
"But-" stammered Marie. "That's-I've never heard of-"
"Shhh!" Lilia hissed, looking like she was about to be told the secret recipe to perfect chocolate. "Go on, Grammy."
Grammy smiled. "As I said, Quinn kissed Clementine. Clementine didn't know how to react. She didn't particularly hate the kiss, but she was so stunned-especially since that had been her first. She didn't speak to Quinn for a few days after that night, but not because she was angry with Quinn-she was just confused.
"A week after the kiss, Clementine's parents confronted her and told her they wanted her to at least try one of the suitors after her heart. They were worried about her and didn't want her to be lonely when she grew older and wanted her to be happy. So Clementine decided to try at least one of the suitors, despite her confusion with Quinn, to make her parents happy.
"The suitor her parents found for her was a handsome boy named Oliver. He was very rich and very fond of Clementine, calling her the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen and saying not even the dawn had more glory. On the evening of their scheduled date, he showed up at her doorstep with a large, colorful bouquet of stiff looking flowers that had a very strange scent to them. When Clementine asked what was wrong with them, Oliver admitted they were fake and made of a man-made material."
"That's weird," commented Marie.
"Who would want fake flowers?" said Vivy.
"Shhh!" demanded Lilia.
"The date went as scheduled," Grammy went on. "Oliver took Clementine to a fancy and loud village restaurant and ordered wine for her, even though she'd never had wine before in her life. Clementine did not enjoy the restaurant because she was not a fan of loud, over-crowded places. She preferred quiet and open space, and Oliver like the excitement and merriment of the restaurant. Clementine had quite the headache when she returned home and politely said goodnight to Oliver and her parents.
"But in the middle of the night, while Clementine was asleep, something hit her bedside window. Then another. And another, which woke her up. She peered down to see it was Quinn, throwing pebbles at her window to get her attention. Quinn pointed to Clementine's front door and mouthed 'I need to tell you something.'
"So Clementine snuck downstairs and opened the front door for Quinn. Quinn stood there, looking very nervous, and then finally held out her right hand, which she'd been hiding behind her back. She was holding a single crisp and perfect Apple Blossom flower, which was Clementine's favorite kind of flower. Quinn explained that she loved Clementine and searched for an hour in the woods outside the village for the perfect Apple Blossom for her. She didn't expect Clementine to return her feelings and felt bad about the kiss and making Clementine so uncomfortable and was sorry, but wanted her to know that she loved her for all that she was and all that she wasn't too.
"Clementine was spellbound and speechless. She could tell how much Quinn meant her words though and from her messy hair and tiny scratches, Quinn had searched very hard for that perfect Apple Blossom. Feeling overwhelmed, she hugged Quinn and told her she loved her too. In the same way Quinn did."
"Awww!" squealed Marie and Vivy.
"SHHH!" Lilia growled.
"The next morning, Clementine explained to her parents that she loved Quinn and not Oliver. Quinn understood her and cared for her and knew her the best. Her parents were very taken back, but they were alright with the relationship as long as Clementine was happy. Later that day, Clementine met with Oliver and told him she loved Quinn. Oliver was quite sad, but he accepted the breakup and was happy he could remain friends with Clementine. And after that, Clementine and Quinn were finally together and happy."
"Did Clementine and Quinn live happily ever after?" Lilia asked softly.
Grammy hesitated and thought for a moment. "Why, yes," she said quietly, her blue eyes shining, "I can say they did, yes. I decided to tell you girls that story because there's a very important lesson to be learned: it doesn't matter if you love a girl or a boy. Love is love, and happiness is happiness. If you're happy, everyone else should be too, because everyone deserves it."
As she said this, Lilia gave a great big yawn. Marie and Vivy followed suit. "Time for bed," announced Grammy, and the three girls slunk into their beds and were fast asleep by the time Grammy had put out all but one candle. She kissed them each goodnight and silently shut the door to their room.
A knock rang modestly from the front door. Grammy hurried to it and opened the door to a woman about her age, with bright green eyes that gave off a radiation of joy.
The two embraced briefly and then went to the kitchen to have tea and catch up. By the kitchen entrance, there was a tiny flower under a glass case and in a small maroon vase full of water.
The woman gasped as she saw the flower. "You still have it."
Grammy took the woman's hand and beamed at the Apple Blossom under the glass case. "Of course I still have it."
"It's that important to you?"
"Of course. It's not the only thing important to me in this world though."
The woman smiled in adoration at Grammy, and the two continued into the kitchen, still holding hands.