Short Story: Luxembourg Calling

We’re in the reading mood these days, and this sweet (and true!) little love story hits the spot

love story | luxemburg | short story
Photo: Fancisco De Nova / Unsplash

There are so many talented creatives in the Girls Are Awesome community, and we love passing the mic whenever we can! Below is a story that was shared with us here on the editorial team, and we wanted to give it its moment. And hey – this could be you! If you’ve got something on your heart, let us hear about it by filling out our Contribute form. We’re loving your submissions, and too much is never enough! And now, without further ado… Storytime 🙂

Luxembourg Calling

Words by Rosa Vivian

A friend from work told me the story of her parents’ courtship some nights ago over a sour glass of white wine in a grimy hole of a bar after our shift. She had mentioned off-hand that she, though Danish and born to Danish parents, was born in Luxembourg and lived the first sixteen years of her life there. When I asked how this came about, she told me this story:

It was the late 1970’s, and her father had been working at one of Denmark’s largest bank. He was young, in his early twenties, restless and eager to travel. He requested a transfer to anywhere else, having tired of Copenhagen, and soon found himself in Luxembourg, a city where he knew no one, with a small promotion and a little money. After a long day at the bank, he would make his way home through the city streets and canals to his single-room flat where he’d cook himself some unremarkable dinner, and stare out the window over the tops of buildings thinking about his life until he was tired enough to put himself to bed. And in the morning, he would make himself ready for the day before walking the same route as the night before through the city back to his office. Each day was nearly indistinguishable from the one before it, and as time went by, he discovered he had become quite lonesome without family, friends or a companion in his new city.

A year passed in this fashion, with the bank at the center of most of his comings and goings, and with nearly all his free hours spent alone, waiting to return to work. Among his duties there were calling around to competing banks, both in Luxembourg and throughout Europe, to compare rates and services, etc., and stay abreast of the broader market, as was the practice at the time. These calls were perfunctory and banal, both for caller and respondent; a rapid exchange of obligatory information neither party particularly enjoyed or resented, or even thought much about; a mandatory gathering of figures to be entered into a spreadsheet and sent up the ladder for analysis. An employee called another bank, was connected at random to the first available associate, and from there, proceeded with the usual series of questions.

love story | luxemburg | short story
Photo: Joan Villalon / Unsplash

Much of his day was spent making and answering such calls, and it was a mundane business, with nothing to differentiate one bank, one associate, one series of numbers from any other. Until one day in the late autumn, when he placed such a call to the national Danish bank in Copenhagen.

For the first time in his year abroad, the young banker found himself with a sweet-voiced girl on the other end of the line; she asked about Luxembourg, made a little joke, gave him the numbers he requested and wished him a pleasant afternoon. The short encounter stayed with for the rest of the day, walked him home that night and sat beside him at his window as he looked out over the steeples and rooftops. He hadn’t really missed Denmark until that very night, when he found himself laying awake, wondering about the girl on the phone – the color of her hair, her middle name, her favorite book – back in Copenhagen. And he wished he already knew her.

Two weeks later, his office phone rang, and he was stunned to recognize the voice of the girl from Danske Bank, calling to inquire about rates and services for her own comparative reports, to be filed later that afternoon. The coincidence of her call being routed to him, of all the many hundreds of associates at his branch, emboldened him; and after he supplied the numbers she had requested, he summoned the courage to ask her whether she was having a good day. She had, she thanked him, with a smile in her voice, perhaps also happy to be talking to the kind young banker in Luxembourg again, and they went on happily chatting for a quarter of an hour before one of them was called away to another task.

That second conversation ended with them exchanging their home phone numbers, where they could continue their talks long into the evening, beside their respective windows in their respective countries. Two hours soon became five, became eight – and the pair were desperately in love, never having met, before either quite knew what to do about it.

After some three months of this, she returned home to her little apartment one evening to discover an envelope postmarked from Luxembourg containing a letter of greeting and a passport photo of a handsome, somewhat serious face, which she pressed to her heart in that absently romantic way young women sometimes do, before tucking it into her pocketbook. She carries with her still to this day.

Not long after the letter, in the early spring, she was readying herself for bed. She had not heard from him that day, which was unusual, and somewhat irritating. In her agitation, she had removed all her make-up and was determined to go to bed early lest she should remain awake all night wondering why he hadn’t called. Then came a knock at the door.

She opened it hesitantly, towel upon her head and bathrobe wrapped around her body, to discover a man she had never met and did not recognize standing in her entryway. He introduced himself as the young banker from Luxembourg, who had flown in just that evening, and, getting down on one knee, declared his love and asked her to marry him. She accepted, and he took her to Luxembourg with him a week later, where they started their family; among them, my pal from work. And they are still together, some thirty-eight years later.

This, dear friends, is why I mourn the death of the landline telephone.

love story | luxemburg | short story
Photo: Eugene Zhyvchik / Unsplash
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