The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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My grandmother in Puerto Rico in the 1950s

The hot breath of San Juan hit her face as soon as she stepped off the plane. Puerto Rico was bustling and sizzling in 1954, and Dorothy was feeling alive. This wasn't her first trip, but she knew if Jim was proposing soon, it may be her last trip for a while. She was not going to miss a second of it.

Her hotel was on the beachfront, the weather was perfect, and it was an all-inclusive trip paid for by the travel agency she was working with. She put on her best blue dress (the one with the ruffles, of course) and headed down to the bar for a drink. Here she noticed a man staring at her across the bar. He was dark and polished, in a navy sailor suit and that brightened his blue eyes. He smiled and held up his glass of whiskey. Shaking her head, Dorothy's eyes met her martini. She should head up to her room soon and write a quick postcard to Jim.

"Do you have a name?"

His voice was loud and she was startled back to the bar, where the man she had seen across the table was now sitting in the chair beside her.

"My name is Dorothy, and I should be going now" she started to get up from her seat but he held out his palm to her, unthreatening and friendly.

"I am looking for someone who can speak English that I can show around the island. A lady." he smiled confidently.

"I'm actually just about to go to Morrow Castle, there's a tour waiting for me. Thank you, though." she was standing now, ready to leave.

"I can take you" he offered, "there's no one that knows San Juan better than me. I am home from my work at Guantanamo Bay, and I want to show someone around."

Dorothy raised an eyebrow. She was no fool, and she was going to make sure he didn't turn her into one. Hand on her hip, she looked the sailor up and down. He had genuine eyes and a bright smile still sitting on his face.

"I'm not looking for anything, Mr Sailor."

"Neither am I," he shot back, "I can get all I want in Guantanamo Bay".

And like that, an instant friendship was made.

By the end of the night her heart was full of Puerto Rico, and she made her way back to the hotel after saying goodbye to her new friend.

"Dear Jim," she wrote on her postcard,

"I took in the local Puerto Rican culture tonight with a sailor from Guantanamo Bay. STRICTLY as friends. Can't wait to see you when I'm home and tell you all about it."

Dorothy in San Juan

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