Old Love Never Dies

It was a frigid December morning in the hill state of Montana. Just a short week before Christmas everyone was eager for some holiday cheer. Nancy and her dog Archie were sitting by a blazing fire when the telephone rang.

“Hello?” Nancy answered.

In reply, the voice on the other end said “Nancy? this is Jane Smith”.

Nancy and Jane had known each other since high school. Nancy was smart, loud, and sassy. While Jane was athletic, nice, and pretty. They had been best friends but one thing ripped them apart and it had the name of Tom Eagle. Now that Nancy was 75 years old and only ate soup it was a surprise to her that Jane had called.

“Jane! How have you been?” Nancy replied.

Jane then said, “ We can catch up when you come to Florida for Christmas.”

Without a moment of thought Nancy said, “FLORIDA! Well since you are insisting then I can not say no.”.

“Oh wonderful Nancy! You can even bring that dog of yours, Archie. I will expect you three days before Christmas so you can meet my other guests.” Jane replied.

Nancy was confused and said “Other guests?”

“Yes other guests, and I know that you will remember at least one of them,” Jane said.

With curiosity Nancy replied, “Who might that be?”

“Tom Eagle.” Jane said within a second and hung up before Nancy realized what Jane had just told her.

Nancy could not believe it! Jane was having Tom Eagle over for Christmas!

Nancy looked at Archie and said, “I bet the only reason that cruel Jane invited me for Christmas is so I can get jealous of Tom being with her!”

Archie barked with agreement.

“Well it is not going to happen! We are going to go to Florida and show Jane that Tom was always meant to be mine,” said Nancy storming into her bedroom already looking for her suitcase to pack.  

It was a beautiful morning with the snow gleaming on the road side as Nancy and Archie pulled into the airport. She was very eager to see Tom again but the only thing holding her back was the fact she had to travel by airplane. Nancy did not like flying because she could not watch Opera and security would not allow her to bring soup in her suit case. Although overall, she was afraid of hights. It had been a constantly occurring fear of hers when she was younger. Now at 75, Nancy was reliving her fear of falling to her death. Thankfully she had Archie to keep her calm and the will to get Tom back.

Four hours later, they landed with a stunning sunset following their arrival. Eager to get to Jane’s house to see Tom, Nancy bumped, ran, and crashed into different people. While bumping into a tall man who seemed to be in a rush also, Nancy dropped her carry on in the middle of the isle. Not knowing that she had dropped her bag Nancy kept rushing on toward the rental cars until she heard the faint bark of Archie who had been in her carry on bag. She quickly retrieved Archie and the bag and received a rental car to get to Jane’s with.

Finally, she had arrived at her long forgotten high school best friend’s house. Nancy was shaking with excitement to see Tom but also fear that she would get humiliated.

She rung the doorbell while looking at Archie and said, “Here we go back to 58 years ago.”

Archie wagged his tail with enthusiasm.

“Nancy! I am so glad you could make it down to my beautiful home with my many friends here to celebrate Christmas!” said Jane.

Once she was invited in, Nancy looked all around for anyone she would recognize. Jane was talking her head off as they turned the corner into the living room when Nancy froze. Froze by the sight of Tom Eagle.

He was dressed very nice and sophisticated in a black suit with a bow tie.

Jane had interrupted Nancy’s daydream when she called “Tom why don’t you come over here and see an old face you might recognize!”

As Tom walked closer to Nancy her heartbeat started to accelerate and not slow down for anything!

“Hi Nancy” said Tom. “You look beautiful.”

Jane was in awe of him.

“You have not changed one bit Tom Eagle.” Nancy said.

They talked the whole night with Jane wondering around them sometimes cutting into their conversations.

The next morning Archie had woken Nancy to go for a walk. At their return Jane had invited her to go out shopping. Nancy was hesitant because she had noticed that Jane was wearing workout clothes but then she soon forgot about it. As they were driving down a town street they passed a sign that said “Pickleball Courts” in big letters.

“Oh Nancy have I told you, Tom and I are the current pickleball champions for our club.” Jane said to Nancy with satisfaction, “Why don’t I show you how it’s done.”

They then spent the rest of the afternoon into the evening playing pickleball. Jane in her sporty shoes and Nancy in her favorite velcro slip on shoes. When they returned to the car to head back to the house Jane begun to bring up the feud that ruined their friendship in high school.

“I do not know why you did not let me have Tom. I mean I am obviously better suited for him.” Jane said to Nancy.

Nancy quickly replied, “Everyone knows that he loved me but his parents made him date you because you were the head cheerleader and he was the star football player!”

Jane denied every reasoning Nancy gave and finally said, “There is only one way to settle this. We play a game of pickleball on Christmas and whoever wins gets to have Tom.”

“This is it,” Nancy said to Archie, “I am never going to get Tom. I know absolutely nothing about the game of pickleball!”

But she showed no signs of worry to Jane only confidence. Nancy had two days to learn this game and no intention of giving up her chance of getting Tom.

For the next two days Nancy trained hard with the help of Archie and Patrick. Patrick was 72 years old and was a regular at the pickleball courts and was glad to teach Nancy. Archie would gather the wiffle balls and gather people to play Nancy for extra practice. By her last practice she was beating the 5th best player in the town.

It was the day of the final game. Jane, Tom, Nancy and many spectators were at the pickleball courts waiting for 2pm to roll around to begin the game.

“Ready to win it all Nancy?” said Tom with his gleaming smile.

With her velcro shoes and high waisted shorts Nancy could not be more ready to embarrass herself in front of everyone.

“All players please report to your assigned courts. We will begin in 5 minutes.” said the overhead announcer.

Archie walked Nancy to her side of the court with a tailwag and left her to go sit by Tom. She looked over at Jane who was laughing with her Florida friends and dancing around like she had already won the game.

“And let the game begin!” the ref said signalling for Jane to serve to start the game.

As Jane served it she heard Tom talking to one of her friends and she served the ball out of bounce.

“Point for Nancy!” said the ref.

The score was tied 11-11 but, you have to win by two points so Nancy had not given up yet! It was Jane’s turn to serve and Nancy retrieved it sending the ball over the net to the short middle of the court causing Jane to slip up and miss the ball.

“12-11 Nancy. Game point.” the ref announced.

Nancy took the wiffle ball up to the service line with determination she served the ball but Jane quickly sent it back over the net into the opposite corner of the court. Nancy knew she could not let the ball drop so she jumped and dove for the ball sending it back over to Nancy’s side of the court unexpectedly where Jane missed and the game was all over.

“13-11! Nancy wins!” said the ref with a cheer.

“I won?” Nancy said in disbelief still lying on the ground.

Jane stormed off in embarrassment and frustration toward her car to go home.

Tom and Archie rushed over to Nancy congratulating her and to see if she was okay. She could not stand so they quickly rushed her to the hospital to find out that Nancy’s hip was broken from diving for the final point in the pickleball game.

The next day Tom pushed Nancy in her wheelchair across the airport with Archie in her carry on to travel back to Montana. Nancy still could not believe that Tom was going to go back to Montana with her and Archie. They would finally be able to be together after all the years apart.

“How did you know that I always wanted to be with you and not Jane?” asked Tom on their flight.

Nancy answered, “Because you never married her and you waited all 58 years to come back to Montana with me.”

They landed in Montana to start a life together where Tom learned to love Oprah and never got tired of the endless amount of soup Nancy made for him. They always traveled to florida for christmas to visit Jane and continued to play pickleball until they could not walk.

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