Elise had asked him two weeks before to accompany her during the travel in Denmark with her parents, which he had to refuse. Not enough money, not enough time. At this precise moment, he could read in her eyes how sad she was. He tried to hide his sadness but he knew that was too late...
What could he offer her? A jewel? She had about a hundred. A book? She had bought and read almost each book from her bookstore... No, he absolutely had got to go to Denmark with her.
How could he be with her in Denmark? How could he solve the problem of money? Well, only one solution seems to be suitable for that problem, he wouldn't leave with his friends in Switzerland for one week while Elise would be in Denmark, and would work instead, so that the problem of money would be solved. But, he wanted this trip to be a surprise.
He picked up the phone and called Elise's father. Within a few minutes, he explained the situation to him which he totally understood. Nathan would accompany them, but Elise couldn't know that. She would learn that in the airport, when he would join them. He hung up the phone, smiling as ever. That was the perfect gift... But, he wanted to give her something for June 28th, their birthday. Something which could get her to think he would travel with her. But what?
His flat was totally messy. Hundreds of books covered the ground, covered themselves with clothes or some stuff, so that the way to his bedroom was an assault course. While expiring, he decided to tidy up this incredible mess. It took him about thirty minutes while he could think about the gift. When he put away the last book on the shelves, his eyes rested on one of his books. The Little Mermaid. This book was a tale by a famous poet, Hans Christian Andersen. He took it in his hands, stroked it, looking carefully at the cover showing the siren. A Danish author ... For a Danish story... The tale was about a mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince: the perfect link with this trip. This book would represent the great statue in Copenhagen known of everybody.
June, 28th 2009... Nathan was waiting for his own mermaid to come. She had to join him in front of the town hall at 18:00. A utopian idea, Elise was never on time. But Nathan was used of her “punctuality” and had given her an earlier rendezvous.
18.20pm, her gait and her smile invaded his field of vision. Elise smiled, and they spent their first five minutes without speaking. Nathan tightened his grip on Elise several times as Elise had her eyes plunged into the blue of Nathan's ones. Her heart was beating wildly as on their first meeting.
While walking to the restaurant, they were both tightening their gift, impatient to offer it.
During the meal, they spoke of this and that, but above all of their first meeting. After a long moment, before the dessert, Nathan spoke about the gifts.
- Elise, what about your present? Would you like to discover what it is? asked Nathan.
- Do you mean “yes”? said Nathan, with a petty smile.
- Of course, I do, Nathan, answered Elise while blushing.
Nathan held his book out to Elise. She grasped the packing and opened it. When she discovered the book, Nathan could read her surprise on her face. While opening the book, she found a paper showing a message. She read it aloud “I hope you'll enjoy it and find thanks to it what my other surprise is. I love you”. With a big smile stretching on her face, she thanked him and held out her present. The packing was rectangular and heavy. Carefully, he began opening it wondering what it could be.
Nathan discovered a box of Swiss chocolate. He smiled, thinking of the degustation that evening. He thanked her as well, saying that it was the best present she could give him. She answered him with a smile of gratitude.
Two days passed by. After the restaurant, they were both walking in town, towards the park they loved. They spent one hour there, but when Nathan felt the coldness of Elise's hands and cheeks, he decided to go to his flat.
Nathan was endlessly remembering these past couple hours with Elise, eating chocolates. He tried to slow down the rhythm but the chocolate call was stronger than the reason. He took the piece of cardboard separating the first and the second layer of chocolates from the box. Without looking at what he would grasp, he held his hand in the box. But what he felt didn't seem to be a chocolate. Afraid, he watched in the box what it could be. He saw a piece of paper with a message. He read it in a whisper “Can you guess what I'm preparing for you? “
- What is your surprise, Elise?
Without thinking, he had grasped the phone and composed her number.
- I was wondering when you would have reached the second layer...! she told, muffling a burst of laughter.
- My life has been a whole surprise since I've been meeting you... acknowledged Nathan.
- So, did you guess it?
- My surprise!
- Actually, I didn't let me enough time, but I hope you...
- That's not the idea, Nathan. I won't tell you a word about it, she interrupted.
- Elise... he begged.
- You should at least think a little bit about it!
- Well... Is that easy? You know I dislike surprises!
- Yes, it is. And what should I say about yours?
- Hu... Let me think about it... Have you started reading the tale?
- I let you... I know you'll find it, you are a foxy boy. Yes, I started, but I have only read twenty pages.
- That's not simple to think about it speaking with you. ... Foxy! What do you mean?
- I can hang up the phone, if you want to. ... I mean... It's up to you.
Nathan was turning over the box in his hands, looking for a sign.
- Do not hang up the phone, Elise. All the meanings, of course..., answered Nathan, in a petty way.
- I want you to find... I'll shut up.
- Ok, I must admit that it's difficult for me to think and speak at the same time. Could you just keep the phone next to you?
- What do you mean?
- It would help me if I could hear you breathe ... It's a kind of fascinating to me.
- Ok, Doctor ! answered Elise, in a roar of laughter.
- Thank you.
- Do not mention it.
- Shut up, I love you...
From then, he could hear Elise's breathing which calmed it down. That was as if he had his ear on her naked chest, listening to her heart's rhythm, half asleep.
- Could you give me a clue to solve this problem?
- All is on and in the box...
He took again the box, turned it over, looking for an explanation.
“Lindt. Swiss chocolate, made in Switzerland. Chocolate confectioner” It took him a while to understand, but he finally understood.
- Elise !!
- Yes, Nathan...
- Switzerland! Is that your idea?
- It depends on what you mean...
- Would you accompany me in Switzerland? he asked in a frighten way.
- Everybody agreed, would you as well?
- Ok, what's wrong with that? You don't want me to come with you?
- Nathan, can I have an answer?
- You're not the problem at all, Elise...
- What do you mean?
- I've decided not to go over there...
- That wasn't what your friends told me.
- They don't know about that.
- Could you explain me why?
- That's my own surprise, Elise.
- I'm sorry...
- Don't you want to spend time with me?
- Absolutely. I've decided to accompany y...
Nathan stopped speaking, realizing that he was just about revealing his surprise.
- Nathan? Are you ok? What were you just saying?
- ... And what about Denmark?
- I won't leave with my parents, I'll stay here, with you.
- ... Have you consider accompanying me in Denmark?
- You have to tell me, because in this case, ...
Elise stopped speaking, a few seconds ran out before Nathan dared to speak.
- The book!
- Which book?
- Yours! The mermaid. Oh my God, it was so clear and I've guessed nothing! Den lille Hafvrue of Copenhagen... Nathan, I'm sorry...
- It's ok, Elise, I would have say it to you...
- But ... Can't you choose between one of the destination?
- Yes, of course. Which destination would you prefer?
- Denmark, I must admit and what about you?
- Anywhere if I'm with you. The place is just a detail.
June, 29th 2010, 2am.
Elise & Nathan's wedding was yesterday, or precisely, a few hours ago. While Elise was sleeping next to him, Nathan was watching at a photograph of them, one year before. This picture showed them, sitting on each side of the Copenhagen's little mermaid... Elise displayed her most beautiful smile. Instinctively, he stroked her face, listening to her heart beating in a relaxing way in her chest... By the time, he fell asleep, held in her Mermaid's arms.