It had many special memories. It was set at the end of the street in a quiet residential neighborhood, surrounded by nature and was picturesque; Mountains with snow capped peaks, aspen trees, beautiful wild flowers and a tiny creek, which had an enchanting effect. It was awesome. Suddenly a persistent tap on the door rudely disturbed her. She was about to ignore it: assuming it was a sales person when she heard a little voice call out "Anyone home?" Linda opened the door to find a cute freckled face smiling up at her. "Sorry to bother you, Mam", "but my poor dolly is terribly ill!" Linda loved kids and somehow they seemed attracted towards her. Yes, she was in the right profession. She broke into a friendly smile and said, "Why don't you come inside and let me take a quick look at her". The child hesitated for a minute then entered. "What is your name, sweetheart?" Linda inquired. There was another smile and the little girl aged about four replied, "I'm Harriet and this is Annie who is very ill."
"Oh! Poor thing, why don't you lay her on the couch and let her rest while I take her temperature" said Linda. Who felt attracted to the kid's friendliness. "Well, Harriet I cannot find anything wrong with Annie. I think she just needs some rest and then she will be fine". "Would you like a cookie?" "No thank you, Mam." The little girl replied.
Just then the doorbell buzzed and this time she opened the door to a worried looking man who inquired "Did you see a four year old girl with freckles, about this high?" "I'm her father". "Oh daddy" shouted Harriet from inside running to him. Linda introduced herself and invited him in. He was relieved to find his daughter. "I am Roger - Roger Smith" "I am so sorry that she barged in on you, Mam." Roger went on to explain that he had just bought the house opposite hers and was preoccupied with the packers when his eye slipped Harriet and she wandered.... luckily she was safe!
He gathered up Harriet and once again apologized to Linda and left. Linda returned back to the book that lay half read but for some reason she could not continue. The stranger's face kept haunting her. It was a rugged face with blue eyes and a moustache. The next day Roger was busy again with the packers and furniture when Linda noticed he did not have his wife with him. Perhaps she was busy at the other end. Harriet was not around also. That explained it.
One afternoon as Linda was returning from the grocery store she ran into Roger. This time Harriet who waved and smiled at her accompanied him. "I guess you have now settled into your new home, Mr. Smith", she said after they greeted each other. "Yes, but there is still a lot to do and I don't know how to divide myself between Harriet, my job and the house". "I'm sure your wife takes care of Harriet while you are away". Replied Linda curiously. He grew silent before answering "Unfortunately she cannot. She died two years ago." Linda felt extremely stupid for saying something like that. She could see the pain in his eyes when he looked up. "Oh, I am so sorry, I should not have... but if you have no one to watch Harriet for you I would be delighted too, uh.. whenever I can", said Linda trying to sound genuinely apologetic. "That is very kind of you. I will take up your offer Linda, oh! Please call me Roger," he said.
In the coming weeks they got to be close neighbors as a result of Linda watching over Harriet in Roger's absence when required. She was drawn towards the two of them and began to feel part of their lives. She learned that Roger was a good man and a loving father to Harriet. He worked hard and put his personal life on a hold and she felt sorry for him. She wanted to reach out to him: to hold him and comfort him. Be a friend most of all. Linda watched Harriet occasionally. She enjoyed the little girl's company besides it filled her lonely moments. One evening when Roger came to collect Harriet from her, he asked Linda if she would join them for a picnic the following Sunday. Linda accepted, so the three of them set off early with lunch baskets and games.
It was a beautiful day and the weather was warm and sunny - just perfect for a picnic in the outdoors. After lunch while Harriet was playing, Roger drew closer to Linda and told her how grateful he was for being there for them. He seemed a more relaxed and happy person these last four months. Linda could see a special glow in his eyes as he looked into hers. He then reached for her hand. "Roger..." she started when he put his hand over her lips. "Hush! Let me speak first. I have been trying to tell you that I am in love with you, Linda and I haven't seen Harriet so close to anyone after Rose's death. Will you marry me?"
Linda felt overwhelmed and happy. She was speechless and it reminded her of the novels she read and it felt like she was one of those lucky characters now that found true love and a happy ending. She never thought Roger could love her. "Oh! Roger, I love you and Harriet. I lived alone for a long time and have now realized there is more to life." Roger pulled her close and hugged her. Planting kisses on her. At last she found her beloved.
Suddenly two small arms reached around the embraced couple hugging them tightly, a small voice said, "I love you both." It was Harriet.