Lucky Find

Lucky Find
By Julie D Cole

This story is the sequel to my story Lost and Found that was published for the Christmas Story contest in 2014. It involved a tragedy and a good deed.
I will never forget that Christmas for as long as I live. I was in a terrible state having lost my angel in a horrific hit and run accident in the village where I’d decided to settle after divorcing my wife of 25 years because of her affair. That was hard enough but what followed almost brought me to suicide.

The village was typical of many in the UK that was quiet and very beautiful with a small village green, a post office, a village store and a pub. The properties were well maintained and some cottages had thatched roofs. The village was popular with visitors and photographers often visited to take shots for postcards and on more than one occasion film crews had arrived to use the village as backdrop for tv programmes. It was supposed to be our paradise and it was a property I’d planned to leave to my daughter when she met her ideal life partner.
That Christmas Eve after we buried her I found a reason for living when I came across a poor lost soul who needed help and support having argued with her father and walked out. Somehow I detected an immediate bond with her during the few hours she was in my care and it was as if my daughter had come back to me. Then she surprised me by telling me that she had been born a boy and that she felt like a girl and had decided to confront her father who was the local vicar.

I had rented out the cottage as a holiday home once things had settled down since visiting the village was too painful let alone living in the cottage where my daughter had been so happy. So many times I’d planned to visit between lets despite paying for an agent to take care of matters. I had kept in contact with Jo and her family and every anniversary of Sarah’s death I received a card and some red roses from the vicars wife who took care of the grave on my behalf. Whilst she had accepted her new daughter her husband was still reticent and he refused to attend the visits to the Gender clinic or to meet my friend who I’m sure would have helped a lot.
Jo knew that I wanted to return and move into my cottage but I’d never had the strength and I let my job take over my life traveling regularly overseas around Europe, Asia and the USA. I was amazed how I’d connected with young and quite feminine boys in Japan, Korea and China and they were similar in size and features to many of the females they worked alongside. I helped a few who seemed to be working long hours to earn peanuts, most of which was sent home to their families. It was no wonder they were so slim since they barely ate anything.
I was preparing a report on my latest visit to Guangzhou in China whilst relaxing in my apartment one Saturday morning ehen there was a loud knock on my door. I was trying to occupy myself that was extremely difficult since it was early December of the 4th year of the anniversary of Sarah’s horrific accident when I lost her. I looked through the spyhole to see a beautiful dark haired young woman with a tall handsome young man standing behind her. On me opening the door she surged forward and put her arms around me and hugged me and squeezed me tight.

‘Oh, I’m so glad you are home. I’ve visited several times in recent weeks and there has been no answer.’
‘Sorry Miss I’ve been overseas on business but I’m home now until early in the New Year. Who are you might I ask? Do I know you? How can I help?’
‘It’s me Mr Ratcliffe, don’t you recognise me? You saved my life and I am forever in your debt. After you stopped visiting your cottage we lost touch.’
‘Jo is that you. Wow you are so beautiful. You look amazing.’
‘Thankyou Mr Ratcliffe it’s all thanks to you. I will be forever grateful for your intervention in my life. It was like a miracle. I’ve been so happy ever since and I often walk to your cottage in case you are visiting but it seems it is always occupied by strangers.’
‘Yes, it is probably because I rent it out as a holiday let and it’s managed by an agent friend of mine in London. I never had the courage to return or move there as I’d intended when I bought it. You know that it was meant to be my gift to Sarah to raise grandchildren in the safety of the village. She had met someone and she seemed so excited. It was the perfect location outside London that I’d researched for ages and I paid top price for the cottage. If only I’d never gone there in the first place and been so selfish.’
‘It’s hard for me to say this but if you hadn’t found me when you did I’d have given in and I’d laid down to die.’

‘Well Jo I can see that you made the right decision so if I helped in any way then I’m very happy. You look beautiful.’

‘Thanks so much for the complement. I tried to call you many times but you seemed to have blocked my calls and it took me ages to find your address. Didn’t you find my letters.’
‘If I did I never opened them. My secretary opens all my post and lets me know what needs attention or what is urgent.’
‘Oh I’m sorry. I never intended to be a nuisance. I only wanted to let you know that I’d met your consultant friend and that he’d been so kind and he arranged for a referral to a specialist in gender dysphoria. I’m so happy now. By the way this is my fiancé James. He asked me to marry him 3 weeks ago and I said yes. The best news however is that mum and dad gave their blessing.’
‘Wow Jo that’s wonderful news. I’m so happy for you both. So very happy. But please call me Jim since Mr Ratccliffe is so formal.’
‘But Jim don’t you see it’s all down to you. Who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t been walking your dog Arthur. He wouldn’t leave me alone. Where is he by the way?’
‘Well it was awkward to look after him and so unfair with me traveling so much so my wife took him in. If you recall we broke up so I’ve not seen him since I last visited her over 2 years ago to sort things out.’
‘Do you mean you got back together?’
‘No not that. Anyway, don’t lets stand here on the doorstep. Please come in and let me take your coats and get you both a drink. It is freezing outside.’

After we settled comfortably with hot coffee I looked across at Jo. She sat upright as any beautiful young woman sits, with her legs crossed and the tan coloured tights certainly showed them off to maximum advantage. It could have been my daughter sitting in front of me with her boyfriend chattering away as she always did when we were together.

‘So Jo when is the big day? Will you get married in the village church and will your father be involved.’

‘No he is not that accepting of the situation between James and I and I don’t want to cause any more trouble. I hope that he will attend our wedding and mum insists that he will but he will only be a spectator.’

‘Oh that sad but I suppose it’s better than him refusing to accept your marriage. From what I’ve seen on my travels there is nothing unique about what has happened in your family. We just have to accept that the world is changing continuously and it’s called progress.’

‘Well Jim I do have one big favour to ask if you don’t mind.’

‘Ask away. If it’s anything I can do to help you it will be my pleasure.’
‘Well we have decided to get married sooner rather than later and we already have flights booked and mum and dad have agreed to join us. James’ parents are already at the destination since they have a timeshare apartment and they stay there every year over the Christmas and New Year period.’

‘It sounds very interesting, where will you go since you need a license surely and some countries may be reluctant to get involved.’

‘It’s OK we aim to go to Las Vegas in the States and arrange the ceremony when we get there.’

‘Well you don’t do things by halves do you. It’s a long way to go for a marriage ceremony. Are you sure about this?’

James butted in and spoke at last ‘Yes we are sure. We are deeply in love and We want a holiday to remember and where better? We’ve known each other since our schooldays. I also met Sarah a few times and I was devastated too when I heard about the accident. Everybody was. Then I met Jo again after she recovered and she told me all about you and how you’d rescued her. We are so grateful so we needed to meet you to say thanks.’

‘Well travelling is no problem for me as I’m used to long haul flights but are you sure since this is a family event not for casual acquaintances.’
Then Jo intervened. ‘Mr Ratcliffe I know it’s holiday season and you may already have plans but I wanted to see you in person to ask you to give me away. I am here because of your kindness and there is no one else that I can think of who I would want to hold on to at my special moment and you are the kindest person I’ve ever met. I would be happy to be the daughter on your arm to try to give you something back that you lost.’
‘OK then, I will say yes but I do need to sort some things and check out the flights. I guess it would only be right to put my personal business above the company business after the last few years of hard work. What better reason?’

We spent the rest of the day together and I soon established that they were the perfect match and that James doted on her. She had become even more feminine since that first night 5 years ago and she seemed so happy.
So even though Christmas was almost upon us I was able to sort things out with my work schedule and reserve flights.
I arrived in Las Vegas 6 days later and Jo and James met me at the airport waving frantically as I passed through customs. It was just like I was meeting my daughter and I had booked a whole week vacation so we could all spend time together.

Jo’s parents arrived on the Monday night and stayed in the Venetian hotel like I did. Such a beautiful venue that did remind me of Venice even if it brought back memories of regret with my wife.
At dinner the next day Jo presented the final wedding plan that was to be a small ceremony. Luckily Jo’s father didn’t make any fuss so she was mightily relieved. She was radiant in a beautiful white dress that she’d hired for the ceremony and I was so proud to take her on my arm. I detected a few glances of regret from her father but then that was no surprise to me.

After the wedding breakfast I stood to make a short speech to the small ensemble. Strange since there were just 6 of us and I was used to making presentations to large audiences and it was all off the cuff. With tears in my eyes I talked a little about my daughter and how she would have enjoyed to be with us all and how much she’d wanted to visit the USA and Las Vegas. She’d actually booked a holiday in Florida for the Spring of the year following the accident and had twisted my arm to pay for the flight. I’d offered to accompany her but I was flatly rejected. She wanted to go on the Spring Break to Fort Lauderdale with girlfriends.

Las Vegas was her second choice and she’d researched all the brochures settling on a joint visit to Las Vegas and San Francisco promising to go with me and to find me a girlfriend.

So I never had the chance to take Sarah or to meet this fictional girlfriend but now I was going on a Christmas vacation with a wedding to boot. So I was determined to make the best of it and do some of the things she’d marked down on her to-do list.

I knew this wasn’t the same but it was certainly the next best thing. I’d been lucky to find another daughter and I knew that we’d be friends for life. We had so much fun visiting a variety of places in Las Vegas that included 2 shows and also a Drag show ‘to find me a girlfriend’. We visited the Old Town and we also took a trip to the Grand Canyon on a light aircraft. We didn’t win a dime in the casinos that we visited on the strip but then I knew that I’d already hit the jackpot.

Since it was Christmas I had one more announcement before I headed home. The decision was easy and I knew it would be gratefully received. I presented James and Jo with a gift in a Christmas envelope. It was the front door key to my cottage in the village and with it a commitment that they could stay there rent free until they could afford a home of their own.

A tearful Jo responded and said it was on one condition that it was re-named ‘Sarah’s Cottage.’

Sometimes you win and I guess sometimes you lose. I was sure that I was on a winning streak now and that Sarah was looking down with pride as I counted all my blessings.

It was a holiday of a lifetime because of all the memories of Sarah that came flooding back through helping her friend.

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