The big Surprise
Hans sighed when he felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket. ‘No.’ He would not let anyone take this moment. He stretched his legs and opened his eyes. An early spring sun bathed the Viktualienmarkt in soft yellow light. He enjoyed the warmth on his face and felt his muscles relax after a week of hectic work. It was his moment to take it easy, to have half an hour of ‘me time’ before he was expected home. It was almost six and the shops started to close up. A vendor brought a cart full of decorations and candles to a small truck. His neighbor, a flower salesman, checked his plants for rotten specimens.
Although the market was near closing time, it was still bustling with activity. Tourists, people from Munich, young, middle-aged and old, all taking advantage of the sun to take a walk or buy some food. Hans counted the different languages he heard. It kept amazing him how many nationalities he could spot here. It truly was a place where locals, local culture and tourists came together to create a dynamic and always active atmosphere.
The Biergarten in the middle of the market was crowded and showed the usual mix of people enjoying a beer and fresh food in the sun. A man slumped against a barrel, half awake, half in a drunken slumber. His friends were in a much better state and continued downing one beer after another. Hans had no doubt some of them would soon follow the drunken stupor of their buddy.
He continued his walk through the stands and breathed in the smells of the fresh food. Cheese, meat, fruit, honey, herbs, coffee. Whatever a stomach wanted, you could buy there. At a fruit stand, an old woman squeezed some peaches, checking for the ripe specimens and pointed at another piece entirely. The stand owner frowned and with a deep sigh, gave her what she wanted. A bit further, two Italians waved their arms in desperation as they tried to explain what kind of cheese they wanted. Meanwhile, a Chinese tourist took pictures of said cheese, making sure to capture the dairy from all sides. Hans tried to recall the few words of Italian he knew when his phone vibrated again. Annoyed, he switched on his phone and froze on the spot.
‘Honey, I have to work a bit longer. Sorry I’ll be late for our anniversary. Looking forward to seeing what you have cooked. See you in an hour! Love you!’
An ice-cold feeling crept up his spine. ”Scheiße”, he uttered in despair. Without looking, he dropped down on a bench… Now what?
Exactly one hour later, his wife, Katharia, came home. She removed her jacket, threw off her shoes and walked into the dining room. Hans couldn’t hide a satisfied grin when she let out a loud “wow”. “Would you be so kind as to dine with me?”, he asked with exaggeration in his voice. She nodded and admired the table. A basket with small pieces of bread stood next to a big whole grain bread, two slices already cut off. The smell of the fresh loaf stimulated her appetite and eagerly she looked at what else the table had to offer. Five different pieces of cheese, decorated with dates and nuts, and four sausages all in blue-white wrappings on one side. Two bowls of fruit on the other. In the middle were two bottles of freshly pressed juices. As a cherry on the pie, a flower arrangement and brand new candles adorned the table.
From around his back, he presented a bottle of wine and poured out two glasses. “Thank you”, she beamed, “it looks amazing”. “With pleasure”, he said taking place at the table. He put up his glass. “To us”, he toasted. “And to the Viktualienmarkt”, he added in his thoughts.