A woman’s car breaks down and she gets lost looking for help. She approaches a house, and looking through a window, she sees her own signed photo.
Sarah Mitchell had vowed that she would never return to the small Ohio town where she had been born, but here she was, driving her rental car through the snow — and she had the feeling she was lost.
She came to yet another intersection and peered through the windshield and the flurries of snow. There were no signposts, but a little way from the road she could see the lights of a small house.
Sarah sighed, drove as close as she could to the house, then stopped and got out. Hopefully, the residents of the house would be able to point her in the right direction so she could get to town before visiting hours at the hospital ended.
Sarah trudged through the snow and walked up the steps to the porch. She knocked on the door and waited — and waited… Even though all the lights were on, no one answered the door.
She walked over to the nearest window and cupped her hands around her face so she could see inside. It was a cozy little place, beautifully furnished and tasteful, and a cheery fire was burning in the fireplace.
But one thing startled Sarah. On the mantle place, right next to an old antique wooden clock was a photo of herself! Sarah gasped. It couldn’t be! But then the front door opened and a man peeked out.
When he saw Sarah his mouth dropped open, and a million memories came rushing back into her mind. The last time Sarah had seen Carlton Simmons had been 20 years ago before she left this one-horse town for New York.
Sarah and Carlton had been high school sweethearts, but Sarah had always had big dreams. As far back as she could remember, she had been singing and dancing. She was the town’s star, and she sang at every event, had the lead in every musical.
Pride can make us cling to bad decisions.
Sarah knew that the only thing keeping her from stardom was the hick town she’d been born into, so she made her plans. The day after graduation she was taking a bus out, and taking a bite of the Big Apple.
Carlton had proposed to her on prom night and had been devastated when Sarah refused. “I want more from my life,” she told him. “More than being married to a small-town man, and having half a dozen kids and getting old before my time!”
“I want more from my life too, Sarah,” Carlton had told her. “But I want to make a life with you.”
“Well, I want to be a star!” she cried angrily. “I want to go somewhere where people don’t know me. I want to reinvent myself, make my dreams come true, and I can’t do that with YOU tagging along!”
“I see,” Carlton had said, and Sarah could see he was hurt. They had never discussed their future again until the day before she left. He’d come to say goodbye, and he’d brought a glossy photo of Sarah with him.
He gave it to her and asked her to sign it, dedicate it to her biggest fan. “I love you, Sarah,” he said. “I hope your dreams come true but don’t forget mine will always be you.”
Sarah had thought about his sad eyes all the way to New York, but then she’d plunged into the excitement of her new life. She started going to auditions and tried to find herself an agent, hung around recording studios looking for her big break.
But there were millions of hopefuls in New York and there were a thousand singers better than Sarah. It took her three years to realize she wasn’t going to make it.
By then she’d run through her savings and started working as a waitress in a fancy Manhattan restaurant. She sent her mother the occasional letter telling her she was doing well.
She never went back home. She wasn’t going to face all those people who had expected her to make it big and admit she just wasn’t good enough — especially not Carlton with his sad eyes.
And now, twenty years later, she was standing on his porch, looking into his eyes… Sarah felt herself blush with shame. “Carlton…” she said. “Wow! Long time no see…”
Carlton was staring at her with glowing eyes and he was smiling that special sweet smile he’d saved just for her. “Sarah! You look so beautiful! You haven’t changed a bit!”
He reached forward and gave her a huge hug. Sarah had forgotten how good Carlton’s arms had always felt. She hugged him back. “Sarah,” he said, rumbling in her ear. “I’ve been waiting for the moment you’d come knocking on my door…”
Sarah stepped back. “You thought I’d come crawling back?” she asked angrily.
Carlton shook his head. “No, I thought you’d realize, just like I did that you were the only one for me.”
Carlton drove Sarah to the hospital to visit her mother, and then he took her out to dinner. He told Sarah about his last twenty years, and she confessed that she hadn’t made her dream come true.
She ended up staying an extra week, then another… And when Carlton proposed again with the same sweet ring he’d offered her twenty years ago, Sarah accepted. As he kissed her she realized that dreams change.
What can we learn from this story?
Pride can make us cling to bad decisions. Sarah didn’t want anyone to know she’d failed so she stayed away from her hometown and the people she loved.
It may take a little longer, but love wins out in the end. Carlton waited 20 years but he never stopped believing and his dream came true.
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