I stopped by the Showers fountain built right in front of Herrera restaurant, our family restaurant run by my uncle where I have worked for close to two years. First, as a waiter now the head chef. I enjoy spending time at the fountain before my shift starts. I moved close to the edge of the fountain. The sprinkle of water on my face and body was always refreshing.
The crystal clear water sparkled from contact with sun rays. At the bottom of the water laid lots of silver and gold coins. Some rusted in the water, some were still shining which meant people threw them in recently. We get many tourists in this part of town because of the old story surrounding the fountain.
More than a century ago, a tourist who happened to be a prince and next in line for the royal throne, visited the fountain. At the time, a large store existed here before my grandfather came along, bought the building, pulled it down and built his dream restaurant in its place. Herrera restaurant was my grandfather's legacy passed down to my uncle.
I understand this tourist stood by the fountain and prayed for a woman who would love him for who he was and not his title. Legend says that he met his queen that day and the prince had a peaceful reign as a king.
The prince turned king was said to visit the fountain yearly and pray for the peace of his kingdom. This attracted more people to the fountain and then the coin-tossing began, as an offering to the god of good luck and love. I do not know how true this is. I am not a believer in myths and folktales but I enthusiastically repeat this story to tourists to keep our income flowing into the restaurant.
I pushed my hands deep into my pant pockets and strolled into the restaurant. At least, we make more money with the presence of tourists in town all year round. I glanced at my wristwatch. One hour before we open.
I walked in and there she was, a young lady in her twenties I believe. She sat alone at the table, with a handkerchief to her nose. She displayed a slightly swollen red nose when she squeezed the handkerchief in her palm. She must have been crying for a while.
I felt this pull, this need to comfort her and ask how I could help. I walked up to her slowly, giving her time to notice my presence. Not everyone likes people to see them in tears.
She raised her head and looked at me as I walked closer. Her eyes, soft shades of pale green and fawn, framed by a heart-shaped face with pouty lips drew me in. I smiled a little and she returned it.
"Hey," I greeted her quietly. There were about three or four other staff moving around to prepare the restaurant for opening. "May I sit?" I gestured at the chair beside her. She looked at the chair then at me. I saw a little hesitation. She nodded and I sat down quickly before she could change her mind.
"My name is Martínez but people call me Martin. I, um, are you alright?"
She blew her nose into her handkerchief, not minding that I sat beside her. She cleared her throat. "Sarah Thompson. That's my name. I-I came to see the fountain."
"Ah, a tourist then."
She smiled and shook her head. "I've been here before. I was a child at the time. Came with my mum. We were on a holiday." Her beautiful eyes lightened up as she spoke about her mother.
"Really. Then you are not new to this place. Is your mother here with you now?"
It seemed the light went out of her eyes. She stared into mine.
"I lost her a year ago. Cancer."
"Oh. I am so sorry."
"It's okay. I wish she was still here, you know. Might help me make the right decision."
"Hm. I know I'm just a stranger to you but I feel like I know you already. Maybe I can help with this decision?" I reached for the water jug on the table and poured a glass then pushed it towards her.
She took a sip and put down the glass. She fiddled with her handkerchief for minutes, I almost thought she had shut me out. I was going to get up when I heard, "Third time's a charm, right?"
"What? What do you mean?"
She sighed. "My fiance and I came on this trip together. He broke up with me yesterday and left for the airport this morning. It hurts too much." The tears flowed down her smooth, rosy cheeks. Who would want to hurt such a beautiful woman?
I stretched out my hand on the table, palm up. An invitation. She looked at me through the tears and shook her head. I nodded, encouraging her. Finally, she placed her hand in mine and I gently squeezed hers. There was no need for words. She could not seem to stop crying.
"It's his loss." I say gently, to comfort her.
"I do not know what to do." Hiccup.
"Sarah, you have to move on. You are beautiful. I can see that and he's a fool to let you go. He doesn't deserve you."
She chuckled, "Thank you si- I mean Martin. I-I dropped a coin and prayed the fountain would bring me some good luck. Help me make the right decision. You see, I have never been lucky with men. They stay for a while and they are gone. For no reason. Now, I am having his baby. I believed the surprise news would make him happy. It did not. How do I go on?"
"Wow, congrats Sarah!" I shook her hand still in mine. She nodded as the tears fell again. I squeeze her hand again. "Come on, Sarah. I believe you are a strong woman and will survive this. You don't need a man to be happy or to raise your baby", I advised.
"No, you do not understand", she blurted out through her teeth and withdrew her hand from mine. Now I understand that pregnant ladies have mood swings. "I need to decide what to do. I hope the fountain will send good luck my way whether or not I keep the baby!"
"Sarah, calm down," I said as I leaned closer to her. I am pro-life and would not stand to see a woman terminate a child's life for no good reason. "You can do this. Okay?"
"Can I?" She asked hesitantly.
I placed both my palms up on the table and she slipped hers in. I held her hands and looked her in the eye. "Sarah Thompson, I am beginning to know you and I believe you can do this! Have you ever considered that this baby is a blessing to you? I'm sure the fountain will agree as well. Good luck will only come if you do the right thing and believe."
We stayed that way for hours talking. The other chefs had a field day without me bossing them around in the kitchen.
Sarah moved permanently to my town and we both raised a healthy boy whom we named Martinez Alejandro Jr. Yes, I adopted him and we three became a family.
I have never loved another woman the way I love Sarah. I guess she was right after all. The Showers fountain still brought good luck and soul mates together.