This story is part of our 'Romantic Travel Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.
Photo by Tomas Fano.
Spring in New York - the time in-between the Big Apple shrugging off its winter coat and the summer heat which suffocates the city. A time of warm ocean winds coupled with the smell of honey blossom and birds singing in Central Park. A time when sunbeams dance across the waters of the lake and the sages say a young man’s thoughts change to love. A truly magical time spring is.
Sat on a bench overlooking Central Park’s iconic Gapstow Bridge was a tramp. He wore baggy faded jeans, his features hidden by a pale grey hoodie. A dishevelled 7/11 bag lay by his feet. He sat quietly reading a copy of the Wall Street Journal. No one took notice of him and he in turn bothered no-one. It was just your typical sight on a spring day in New York City.
The woman egged on her young companion. "The spot I want is over there." She commanded. "It’s the spot where Carrie and Aleksandr sit and eat chocolates. I want my picture taken there."
"Mum..." The woman’s companion moaned. "We’ve come all the way to New York for a girly weekend to shop! Not stomp around scenes from ‘Sex and the City’. You do realise you're wasting valuable browsing time on this wild goose chase."
"Hush now child." Replied the mother in her best Southern Belle drawl, "Not long now Kelly; one quick picture then Bloomingdales." She giggled.
They rounded the corner. "There it is!" exclaimed the woman, pointing. She raced towards the bridge, daughter in tow. On reaching the landmark she positioned herself on the bridge's apex then began to direct her offspring where to stand to get the best shot. Kelly moved left, then right; then forward, then back until her mother decided which position was best. When 'Davina Bailey' was finally satisfied, Kelly placed her bag on the floor and took out a camera.
The tramp who had been watching the pair over his newspaper saw his chance. Quickly tossing the journal aside he grabbed the 7/11 bag and made his way quickly over to where the young girl stood. Kelly was too intently listening to her mother’s instructions to hear him approach. As he drew close to the girl he dropped down and knelt by her handbag. Leaning forward his hand reached out; touching her gently on the knee.
Kelly yelped in fright and turned to face her assailant. The tramp pulled back his hood.
The young girl stood back in amazement. "Jeremy?" she queried, "What the hell are you doing here? You should be in..." her words trailed off as a bunch of flowers appeared from the 7/11 bag.
"Kelly; will you marry me?" was all he said.
Meanwhile in London I had just finished tidying up the latest input of holiday brochures when my mobile bleeped at an incoming text message. It read “Mission accomplished... Kelly said yes. She had no idea I was coming. Thanks for arranging the trips. J."