When John Martin is forced to sell his tech company, he decides to take a six-month vacation to the south of France.
When he meets Madame Garcin, her daughter Sophie, and her granddaughter Isabelle, his life is changed forever. What began as a long vacation becomes a journey of self-discovery marked by love, loss, and tragedy.
He is molded by this family of three generations of women, tempered by tragedy themselves, in ways that he could never have imagined.
On the weekends, John would visit surrounding towns to explore. He visited Avignon and Gordes, as well as other cities in Provence. He always liked market day, when the farmers came into town with their produce to sell in the town plaza. The market became a sea of color with the various fruit and vegetables stacked neatly in rows as people from town gathered to select their food for the week. It was not only the fruit and vegetables that attracted him, but also the stores filled with cheese, pastries, and meat. It seemed like there was a specialist for everything.
Unfortunately, the bucolic nature of his current life continued to be interrupted by his weekly updates from his lawyer regarding the SEC investigation. He wondered if it would ever go away. His lawyer continued to fend off the SEC, but eventually he would probably need to return to California for questioning. His lawyer kept telling him not to worry, but that was easier said than done. The whole ordeal continued to weigh on him. Since his arrival in Aix a month before, the calls about the investigation seemed like the only news he had heard from home. Mike was probably too busy getting ready for the arrival of his new baby, Michelle was probably not speaking to him, and his parents didn't call. He assumed his father was mad at him for selling the company.
* * *
It seemed to John that the next three weeks could not go by fast enough. He was energized and quickly got back into the routine of jogging along the Embarcadero. It was a Sunday morning and John had made it all the way to the Marina Green, which was farther than the length of his usual run.
The green was filled with joggers, mothers pushing strollers, and the sailors heading for the yacht harbor. The sky was bright blue and cloudless, and a stiff breeze blew into the harbor from the other side of the Golden Gate. John stopped in the middle of the green to catch his breath and looked up to see a sky full of kites. There were large ones, small ones, one that looked like a dragon, and another which resembled a bird, all in a kaleidoscope of colors that were enhanced by the sun from above. They all danced in the wind, some darting side to side, and others diving toward each other as if to demonstrate who owned the skies. Some would descend to the ground then dart back up into the sky again.
Off to one side was a small girl with a pony tail, who ran across the grass as though she were about to lift off like a bird. Behind her she towed a small red kite, which stubbornly refused to become airborne despite her best attempts to launch it. Each time the kite plunged to the grass she would tighten the string again and make another run at it, only to have the kite rise about ten feet, then plummet to the grass. She tried over and over again with such determination, John wondered how long she had been at it. After each failed attempt she would look over at her mother who was keeping an eye on her from a distance, then the girl would continue with more determination than the previous attempt. John thought about Isabelle and how much he missed her. He could not wait to see her. He could imagine Isabelle when she was young, pulling on the kite string with the same determination as the little girl.
John walked over to her mother sitting on the grass and asked with a smile, “Do you mind if I give her a hand?”
Her mother raised her eyebrows at first and studied John from top to bottom, but then a smile slowly crept onto her face. “Sure, why not?”
About the Author: William Auch
William Auch is a physician residing in Sacramento, California. When not seeing patients, he writes, studies French, and travels the world.
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