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He was just sitting there, staring at the sea. Nobody quite knew what to make of him, the strange old man. But they considered him harmless. He was there every morning. As regular as clockwork; sitting there sipping his coffee from his flask at dawn, having his sandwiches, always the same – brown bread with little butter and lots of jam, at tea and then leaving at lunch.

He was obviously waiting for something to come from the sea, obviously waiting for something or someone. Nobody wanted to ask him, not because they were afraid of him, but because he seemed to have an ineffable air of sadness; a need to to be alone with his thoughts.

One morning he wasn’t there anymore, though. That surprised everyone, as anything unusual happening invariably seems to. Nor was he the next day. On the third, though he was seen again; but not sitting watching the sea… He was standing on the patch of grass next to the bench that had been his point of vigil for so long. Looking at the people milling about, an occasional smile on his face and the sadness seemingly replaced with a quiet resignation and occasional flashes of optimism.

And to their surprise the regulars, those curious ones who had watched him but were too timid to approach the old man, realised he was not all that old; it was sadness that had drawn the lines on his face, not the years.

Eventually one of them, the one who had thought he knew the man the best, finally broke down and inched closer to the man, failing to note the amusement now shining in his eyes. “Erm…”, he started, “so it’s here? It came? Whatever you were waiting for?”

With a wry grin the no-longer old man’s reply was heard, a reply that really confused some of those around him; having no frame of reference for his thoughts…

“No friend. All that came in the end was realisation. Realising that if this wasn’t a Storybook Love, it was because it never was written into the story. Realising that if I want a Storybook Love, I might have to go read another book. And finally realising that there are actually other books that might be even more worth reading…”