Spruce, fir, and beech trees dotted the path. Sunlight peeped through the foliage. Somewhere, a warbler called its mate. Maximilian paused. He raised his black binoculars and focused on the origin of the sound. Holding the object steadily, Maximilian adjusted the vision. A whistle escaped his lips as he spotted the warbler.
The amateur birdwatcher in him was delighted. He patted his binoculars lovingly and let out a sigh. Memories from the past tried to gush in, but he shoved them aside.
Gabi hat Sehnsucht,
Sehnsucht nach Klaus!
Maximilian’s ears perked up at the song. It was a familiar voice.
Is it …..?
Why am I humming this song again?
Birgit bit her tongue and paused. She had too many unpleasant memories associated with this song. How could Klaus break up with Gabi just like that? The lyrics flustered her, but the melody still held an allure, and she couldn’t resist its charm.
As she strolled along the row of trees in the Bavarian forest, her eyes fell on the red-capped and white-spotted mushrooms. A smile escaped her lips.
Her mom often used to say they are good-luck charms. Glückspilze!
Birgit chuckled. That’s what I need desperately. Lucky mushrooms to bring me luck!
Maximilian peered through his binoculars again. Birgit used to sing this song and jokingly ask if he would break up with her whimsically.
“Are you nuts?” Maximilian ruffled her blonde hair.
Birgit kissed him.
A beaver’s grunt brought him back to reality. The vision of a woman came into view. She was dressed in a pair of boyfriend jeans. A casual jacket hung on her slim frame. Although she was slimmer than ever, there was no doubt that it was Birgit.
Birgit – The woman who didn’t hesitate to part with her favourite binoculars so her boyfriend could pursue his passion.
The bright mushrooms looked beautifully incongruous among the subtle greenery. Birgit continued to stare at them until the shuffle of footsteps drew her attention to her surroundings.
Come on, girl! You don’t have time for this.
She turned to greet the stranger. “Guten Tag!” But before she could comment on the sunny day, she gasped and staggered back.
“Max!” the word escaped her lips of their own accord.
Her ex-boyfriend stood before her. He seemed equally surprised to spot her in this forest. An awkward silence descended upon them as they stood face to face. Oh, the vagaries of destiny!
“Birgit! What a pleasant surprise,” Maximilian managed to recover his composure.
He could sense her fidgeting. A part of him wanted to hug her, but he stopped himself. For all he knew, she might have moved on.
He flinched. It was always Max and never his full name.
He cleared his throat, but he couldn’t utter any other line.
“How’s the birdwatching going?” Birgit asked him.
Damn! Don’t you have anything else to ask?
“Your gift comes in handy here,” he replied, patting the binoculars.
What the hell am I even saying? And did I just creepily touch them?
Maximilian and Birgit
The ex-lovers sat on the grass under a fir tree.
Birgit wanted to explore the forest, but seeing Max after two years, she didn’t have the heart to bid an emotionless goodbye. Maximilian was also eager to know about Birgit. He still hadn’t forgotten the beautiful past they shared. He also wanted to apologise to her for ending their relationship abruptly.
“You look good, Max,” Birgit smiled.
Delighted to hear the familiar word again, Maximilian smiled back. “Looks who’s talking.”
“Alone?” Birgit asked him.
Maximilian nodded. “My girlfriend broke up with me recently.”
“Oh!” Birgit expressed her regret.
Maximilian gathered the courage to pop up the question that was bothering him. “Will you forgive me, Birgit?”
Birgit leaned back against the tree. “Did you assume I was single?”
Maximilian shook his head. “You deserve someone better than me. I wanted to tell you that I have been cursing myself for behaving like a jerk that day. Sorry, Birgit.”
“I have moved on, Max. I’m getting engaged soon.”
Maximilian felt a stab in his heart. “Congratulations!” His tone was impassive.
Birgit got up. “It’s time to go back to my cottage.” She extended her hand towards Maximilian.
“Stay happy,” was all Maximilian could say.
As Birgit began to walk, Maximilian addressed her for the last time, “I should have realised your love was pure when you refused to accept your binoculars back.”
“You care for them. I can see that.” Birgit didn’t stop as she uttered these lines.
A tear slid down Maximilian’s cheek. He hadn’t expected Birgit to live like a nun, but the news of her engagement shattered him. She cared for him as only a friend. She had loved him when they were together. But it had been his immature behaviour that sounded the death knell of their relationship.
You deserve this, Max!
He looked at the binoculars. They belonged to Birgit’s late father, but she had given them to Maximilian. She knew about his interest in winged creatures.
Feeling thankful that he possessed a part of Birgit, Maximilian made his way to the highway.
“You devilish creature!” she addressed the Glückspilz on her way to the cottage.
She stared at the red-and-white mushroom for a full minute and then plucked it. It must have been luck. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have spotted Max. She had often wondered if she had been a fool to part with her father’s prized possession and not take it back. But Max cared for them. That came as a relief.
Some love stories aren’t destined to happen. Birgit took out her mobile and typed a message to her boyfriend.
Missing you, Schatz. Let’s spend the weekend in München. XOXO!
Author’s Notes –
Glückspilz, or lucky mushrooms, are mushrooms which have red caps and white spots. They are believed to be good-luck charms.
Guten Tag – Good Afternoon
Schatz – Darling
Prompt of Story #5 –
An ex-boyfriend, a pair of binoculars, a good-luck charm
Word Count –
960 (only the story)
Prompt by –