This is a work of fiction.
I had come to Malmo in Sweden by train and thought I should visit IKEA, the best furniture shop in the world.
When I was younger, my father owned a travel company, and we would often shift to different locations within Europe.
Currently, I was in Denmark for a business trip and I thought it would be good to refresh my memories in Sweden.
Maybe some part of me wished that I would bump into Elias.
Elias and I dated for a year in high school while I was living in Malmo. I had to leave while we were together for six months and another six months we did long distance. Both of us graduated and went to college and we eventually grew apart.
I’m twenty-four now, but none of my relationships have been as fun or passionate as the one with Elias.
If I’m completely honest, I don’t think I ever got over him.
I enter IKEA and the take in the familiar scent of wood and new furniture.
Elias and I used to come here every weekend. We never really needed to do anything fancy. We loved spending time in here playing hide and seek, talking about decorating the rooms in our house once we got married, lying down on the beds and holding hands when the sales people weren’t looking.
One day we were playing hide and seek and I had to find him. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find him. I thought he had left me. That was the first time I felt so alone. I imagined what it would be like without him for the rest of my life.
I heard knocking sounds coming from the wardrobe next to me and opened it. Elias was there grinning away. He was so shocked when he saw tears in my eyes.
“Promise me, Elias, promise me that you will never forget me. Promise me.”
“I promise,” he said.
How naïve we were that time.
Once, Elias and I took a bed cover once and went into a “secret” storage room that no one knew about. We made a tent out of the bed cover and red books with a torch light. When IKEA was about to close, we folded it back and put it in its place.
There were a few men in my life after Elias but no one ever compared. I wonder why? Why was I so fixated on an idea of eternal love? It’s been an entire four years since we have even spoken to each other. Maybe I am only attracted to the idea of a chance meeting. Maybe I want to believe that fate might bring us together.
After grabbing a bite to eat at the IKEA cafeteria, I head out to the riverside and look at the families enjoying a sunny summer afternoon.
A beautiful child in pig tails, around two years old, bumps into me. Her eyes are as blue as the ocean.
“Are you lost?” I ask her. She simply looks at me and smiles.
Seconds later a man, her father, approaches us. I look up to face him, and my heart sinks. I feel a tightness in my chest. My feelings overflow.
“Racheal? Racheal Sheeran? Is that you? Oh my god!”
I look at him and then at his daughter. So, he found someone better than me. He has moved on. She looks so much like him. A spitting image.
“Yeah. I was in town so I thought I would go to IKEA.” I say. I lie. I should have said that I really wanted to see him, or something cool like that. But the words wouldn’t come out.
Instead, tears do.
“Your daughter is lovely. I’m glad to see you’re okay. Goodbye.” I run away.
I don’t think I was this heartbroken even when Elias and I broke up due to our long distance relationship.
I remember Elias smiling goofily after he was discovered in the closet. I remember holding hands on that bed in Ikea. I remember. I remember. I remember.
I hear footsteps behind me. Someone tugs at my dress.
“Elias, I don’t think now is a good time to talk. Maybe I’ll send you a message on facebook or something? “
“What Fashebook?” A small voice asks.
I turn around to see the small girl tugging at my dress.
“That man ish not my Papa. He ish my shtupid uncle. Papa ish more handshome.”
Elias is standing behind the small girl.
“My name Paula. And yours?” the girl says.
“Racheal” I smile wiping away the tears.
“That was dramatic,” Elias says.
“Shut up,” I say.
“I never forgot about you. I remembered our promise.” He says quietly. Almost like a whisper.
I cry again but this time with happiness.
“Let’s give it one more try?” He says.
Paula giggles in delight. Elias and I hug.
Years later when we get married, Paula is old enough to give a small speech at the wedding.
She takes all the credit for getting us back together.
She does get all the credit, and so does IKEA, the best furniture shop in the world.
Source of keychain: Malmo, Sweden.