The Summer 2023 CABB Challenge
NEW VOICES FROM ABOVE AND BELOW
back in time
Year 2023. Maybe not…
My name is Nelly and I have to tell you an incredible story!
My husband Davide and I were making the best trip of our life: a tour around the USA! I speak English well and Davide is a driving ace. Therefore, we had all the qualities needed to face this challenge!
We decided to make this trip in autumn, October and November, so to visit the wonderful and unexplored “foliage” places in New England, from Vermont going down through Boston and Connecticut. Then, at last, we would arrive in New York. Once in the Big Apple, the last place of our tour, we started exploring the city: Manhattan, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, Miss Liberty, the Empire State Building and much more…
The last day we went to Central Park. It was exciting! It had many little and big secret places hidden in any point indicated on the map.
One of these was an old-fashioned carousel of horses. It looked amazing and we were nostalgically captured by it. I jumped on a horse, and we started playing as prince and princess (how could our child spirit resist?).
Suddenly, a gust of wind made a little piece of paper pass in front of my eyes. When it landed it flowed as if pushed by a self-power.
We ran after the piece of paper, intrigued. Something was guiding us towards the mystery. We continued running and, suddenly, we noticed that the piece of paper entered into a tunnel. An old underground tunnel that seemed to be abandoned for a long time.
We continued running after the piece of paper until it stopped near a rusty gate. We looked beside the gate, but we didn’t see anything. A soft light came from the other side of the gate and another gust of wind brought with it some red petals, as if from faded rose. Davide picked up the piece of paper and gave it to me. “Honey, please read it. Let’s get out of here” he said.
“No, stay. Something is stopping me from going away”, I replied gathering some petals.
The paper was yellowed, it seemed a parchment. I turned my phone’s light on to read what was written on it.
There was a short message saying: “Halloween. Catherine, see you at 21:00 at the entrance of the tunnels in Central Park. Vincent”. The handwriting was elegant, as those of the past. But what was this kind of message doing here? Just a moment: tonight, is Halloween night!!!
“We will be there too” I said full of enthusiasm and curiosity.
“Honey, tomorrow we will have our flight back to Italy early, we have no more time. You are the always curious. They are surely lovers; we must leave them alone, don’t we?”.
“No, I feel that it will be a nice adventure and we’ll not disturb anyone” I replied.
“OK, I surrender. You are so stubborn! I’ll postpone our flight back, OK?”
“OK!” I replied kissing my prince; then, we went out of the tunnel. I looked back and a gentle breeze caressed my face.
“See you tonight, guys!” I said looking at the red petals in my hand.
Davide succeeded in booking the last two places available on the flight scheduled for the day after tomorrow. Just in case???
That night we walked towards Central Park. The city was full of stunning and frightening masques. Davide was fascinated but I always thought about Catherine and Vincent, and I didn’t notice anything.
We positioned ourselves in a strategic point so as to see the tunnel entrance and waited. Suddenly, a girl dressed in white appeared. She wore an antique costume with a big skirt, and many ribbons were woven in her hair.
On the other side a male figure wearing a white shirt with a ruffle, trousers Lord Byron style and a black hood. His face was beautiful, regal and antique. He resembled a feline, a lion, to be more precise. What beautiful make-up! They hugged and kissed and started walking towards the City.
“Honey let’s go now. Did you satisfy your curiosity?” asked Davide.
“Not yet, let’s follow them. Let’s make the tour by night and see where it takes us”.
Keeping our distance, we succeeded in following our heroes and, at the end, we reached the benches on the walkway along the East River.
They sat on one of them. We did the same.
Suddenly, Catherine looked at us and smiled to me. Did she feel our presence?
I responded to her smile, embarrassed, but I decided to approach them.
“Sorry to bother you. My name is Nelly and he’s my husband Davide”.
“Nice to meet you. We are Catherine and Vincent”.
“I know. I feel that our meeting didn’t happen by chance. We found this”. And I gave them the piece of paper.
“Where did you get it?” asked Vincent, astonished.
“We found it in the park nearby the carousel and it guided us towards a tunnel. I’m giving it back to you. I’ve taken a photo with my cellular phone to keep it as a souvenir. I swear your secret will be safe with us”.
“Cellular phone? What is it? What does it mean?” asked Catherine.
“How don’t you know it? Everyone has one!” said Davide. And he took his out of his pocket.
“I’ve never seen a thing like that” said Vincent, always more worried.
“The only phone I have is the one in my place and I can’t bring it out” confirmed Catherine.
My gaze fell on a newspaper on the bench. I took it and read the date: October 31, 1987. What’s going on???
“Just a second, please. What’s today’s date? The EXACT date” I asked.
“October 31, 1987” replied Catherine.
“Are you kidding? Yes, today is October 31, but the year is 2023!” said Davide.
“OK, I got it! The note, the rose’s petals coming from the tunnel’s gate: they moved us back in time! Unbelievable and terrific!!!” I said.
“Destiny wanted us to meet, who knows why…” said Catherine.
“We don’t have time to lose talking about these silly and science fiction things: things that exist only in books” said Vincent. “I must go back to my world soon…”.
“Your world? Where are you running away from, Vincent?” I said.
“It’s complicated,” said Catherine.
“It’s not, if we talk about it” said Davide.
“OK, something’s telling me that we can trust you” said Catherine after sharing an exchange with Vincent by gazing into his eyes.
They told us their story and we were shocked and softened.
We told them ours and, in a certain way, the two stories had something in common. A great love between two persons apparently different but similar, bonded, strong, empathic, ready for anything to defend their love.
Davide looked intensively at Vincent and said: “You are a man in love. You are like the other men. The aspect is insignificant. Differences and barriers don’t exist when you find the most important person of your life. Look, I’m in a wheelchair and I felt bad, handicapped. Nelly taught me that love always wins. The same Catherine is doing for you. She sees you as the man she loves, the MAN, nothing else. You can face any sacrifice and overcome any difficulties. You only need to want it. Vincent, it’s your life and you must live it at best. Don’t be influenced by anybody. We have only one life and we are lucky to have met two special women who taught us that everything is possible. Follow your heart”.
Catherine was touched and shocked by Davide’s last words: “Follow your heart…”.
“Yes! You can live your life being a little bit careful but it will be a wonderful life! You told us that you have many people loving you, haven’t you? So… COME ON!” continued Davide.
“We’ll try, Davide, thank you” said Vincent hugging my prince.
Catherine did the same.
We realized that we still had time to talk about many other things before the end of that special night.
So, we talked about life in the new Century and about newest technologies. Vincent was really fascinated. We were not crazy, but only good friends. Friends that TIME allowed to meet and – why not – grow up together.
At the end of the night, we walked back towards the tunnels entrance in Central Park.
“See you in 2023, guys!” I said.
“Sure! But how will we meet?” asked Catherine.
“Destiny will find the way,” said Davide.
* * *
Year 2023. Yes, now…
Davide and I were making our evening walk on the lake edges.
It was a wonderful end of summer evening. Colors were brilliant and sunset was beautifully reflected in the lake.
Suddenly, a gust of wind brought us some red rose’s petals. We smiled and looked up. An acoustic signal of an incoming WhatsApp message said: “So this is technology?”. We looked around and saw three persons: a man, a woman, and a younger man. Catherine and Vincent! We ran to them and hugged them.
They introduced us to their son, Jacob, over thirty years old. “We have followed our hearts”. We were happy to see them, and we spent a great time together. People didn’t look twice. Come on, we are in the 21st Century! There are so many other things in life that are hard to believe, don’t you think? And yet they’re all real.