Royal Poinciana

Image result for royal poinciana

Image credit; wikepedia.com

Image result for frangipani

Image credit; wikepedia.com

I’ve included a picture of a royal poinciana tree and frangipani flowers so you can see them.  I know most people won’t know what they look like.  I’ve sent this to a short story contest and I am waiting to hear back from them.  Anyways, thank you for reading!

 

  1. Write a story about someone who’s haunted by their past.

Royal Poinciana

The sweat pours down my face as I struggle with the weeds in my garden.  I’m not physically draining myself, but the sweat comes from fear. Every time I touch a weed, I see something from my past, my scarred past.  Flashes of memories flood my vision even when I barely brush a weed. I can’t see past the flashes, they are blinding me. I try to pull out several weeds at once, which is a mistake.  I see several memories in rapid succession, thoroughly confusing me. A hand coming out of nowhere, my mother screaming, a gunshot… I can feel my garden pulling away from me, trying to put me back into reality.

I wake with a gasp.  I sit up and run a trembling hand through my hair.  To calm myself, I look around my bedroom and try to name every color I see.  As I do, I start to feel a bit more level-headed.

“Miora!” my foster mother calls up to me.  I jump at her harsh voice. “Get up! You’re going to be late!”

I check the time on my alarm clock.  It’s already 7:30? I must have been in my garden longer than I thought.

I hop off the bed and hurry to get dressed.  I try to comb a brush through my hair, then give up entirely, throwing all of my hair into a bun on top of my head.  I run downstairs, grab a piece of toast, and scramble out to my car, pausing only once to trip over the doorstep.

I fumble for my keys, and when the car finally turns on, I race out of the driveway and onto the street towards the high school.  It is painful to keep under the speed limit. Has it always been so low?

I make it into art class just as the final bell rings and hurry to my seat next to Amara while everyone stares at me, the late kid.  Amara has short, honey-blond hair, bright green eyes, and a curvy figure. She is very beautiful, and I am often shunted to the side when it comes to meeting new people.  She is extroverted and funny, and everyone wants to be around her. Why she chose me to be her friend, I do not know why.

I am almost the complete opposite of Amara.  I have long black hair, dark brown eyes, and dark skin.  I am extremely introverted and would rather stay in to read instead of partying on a Friday night.  Amara has always tried to include me, though, which I am grateful for. She is my best friend.

“Miora!” Amara whispers, brushing her hair out of her face. “Where were you?”

“Stayed too long in the garden,” I say in a hushed voice.  “Mrs. Violet almost had a heart attack.”

Mrs. Violet is my foster mother.  Her name may sound kind and sweet, but that lady is the strictest person I’ve ever met.  She makes me clean the kitchen every weekend until it is spotless, mop the floors everyday, and dust the living room until it shines.  She has strict rules about eating at the dinner table, and makes all of us go to the Catholic church on Sunday and Wednesday. Mrs. Violet has extremely short red hair, cat-eye glasses, and a large nose.  Her eyes are the prettiest color of blue I’ve ever seen, though.

Amara is the only one who knows about my garden.  She’s the only one I could trust with my secret without telling me I’m crazy.  I don’t think she completely believes me, but she doesn’t judge me for it, either.

“What were you doing?” she asks, getting out of her seat to get her art supplies.  I follow her.

“I was trying to pull out some weeds,” I admit, knowing what her reaction will be.

“Miora, you know that you can’t do that!” she exclaims, turning towards me. “Miora, you know better than to even try!  Why would you attempt to do that?”

I sigh. “Amara, they were thoughts from my past.  I hate thinking about them, I just want them gone.”

I sigh again.

Amara waits for a moment before trying to change the subject. “How’s your tree doing?”

Despite myself, I grin happily.  At the very center of my garden, there is a huge royal poinciana tree.

“Oh, Amara,” I say, “I wish you could see it!  Yesterday it was the brightest red and orange I’ve ever seen!  The flowers are doing so beautifully!”

I smile contentedly, remembering.  My tree is the most beautiful tree of all.  The royal poinciana tree is native to Madagascar, just like me.  My foster parents took me in when I was put into an orphanage at age ten.  I can’t remember much before then, but every once in a while some weeds pop up, usually from that time period.  I can’t remember why they chose someone all the way from Madagascar, but they did, and I’m forever grateful.

The rest of my garden is covered in different flowers.  Some are absolutely gorgeous, some are just pretty, some are plain.  I’ve learned that each flower is from a different time period. The weeds are from my past before I turned ten.  Daisies, roses, waterlilies (in a small pond in my garden), jasmine, and, most recently, frangipani flowers. Frangipani are native to Hawaii, and they are very beautiful.  I think they are the most recent because my most recent memories are beautiful. This has certainly been some of the best times of my life.

Amara’s strategy has worked, and I find myself thinking about my tree and my flowers the rest of the day.  I promised to Amara vaguely that I would try to ignore the weeds for a while, but I wasn’t really listening to her.

The rest of the day passes quickly, and I can’t wait to get home.

As soon as I’m in the driveway, I turn off my car and run inside.

“Hi, Mrs. Violet!  I’ll be in my room!  Homework!” I call to her as I hurry past her.

She says nothing, just stares past me suspiciously, most likely wondering why I’m so eager to do my homework.

As soon as I reach my room, I lay down on the bed and try to fall asleep.  Over the years, I’ve developed the talent to fall asleep at will. I quickly fall asleep.

I open my eyes to see my tree before me.  It’s even more breath-taking tonight than it was yesterday.  The leaves are lime green, the flowers red and orange. I sigh, thinking that royal poincianas truly are the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen.

I breathe deeply, inhaling the fresh scent of my garden.  Hmm, what time in my life should I visit today? Perhaps my childhood, where the simplest flowers grow.  The daisies. Yes, I’m in the mood for some simple, happy memories.

I walk on the mosaic, stone path towards the daisy patch.  I decide to go visit my golden flower in that time period. In each time period, there is one golden flower, each a gold version of the original flower.  That flower holds my most important memory from that time.

I can see the yellow daisy from several feet away, because it is the only one in a sea of white daisies, and I walk towards it eagerly.  I know what memory this holds, it’s one of my favorites.

I brush up against a few flowers on my way past, and I’m flooded with memories.  Unlike the weeds, several memories at once are not overwhelming to me. These memories are soft and wonderful, they wait for one another, gently tugging me into the past.  I see flashes of a puppy, a carnival, my tiny hand reaching out to pick up a shell on a beach. I smile. These memories bring me such happiness. 

I finally reach my golden daisy.  I don’t brush up against it, but I hold onto the stem lightly.  Golden memories are the easiest to recall, they are remarkably clear.  I feel the gentle tug of the golden flower, and I don’t resist in the slightest as I am, yet again, returning to the past.

80’s music plays through the air while ten-year-old me is sitting on one of the high chairs in the kitchen.  Mrs. Violet is dancing around, singing, and cleaning the kitchen. Mrs. Violet has a surprisingly good voice.  Nowadays, she only uses it in church. This is my favorite memory of Mrs. Violet. I actually felt like I had a real mother.

I stay there for a moment longer, listening to the music.  But then the memory changes.

“You aren’t worthy of this love,” a voice whispers in my ear. “You will never have a real family.  You aren’t good enough for it.”

My memory turns from golden to a dark hue.  It fades, pushing me out of the past. I struggle to hold on to the flower stem, but an irresistible force pushes me away.

I open my eyes, gasping, and look around wildly.  I dark green vine is curled around my ankle. The whispered thoughts keep invading my mind as I struggle to throw off the vine.  The more I touch it, the louder the whispers get until their ringing voices is all I can hear.

The vine finally lets go of me, and I scramble away from it.  I don’t even know where I’m running to until I get to my tree, which I can barely see through my blurry tears.  I sit at the base and put my head in my hands.

“You are a wretched person,” a voice whispers, growing louder by the second. “You have fooled everyone into thinking you are a person you are not.”

I whip my head up and look around me.  Vines are coming at me from every direction, moving faster than is natural.  I try to scramble away, but they hold me to my spot. I hear bits and pieces of accusations.

“You should die….”

“Your mother and father would be so disappointed….”

“You don’t deserve to live….”

I look around at my tree, and agony comes upon me.  My beautiful tree has been almost completely surrounded by vines.  The flowers have all fallen on the ground and wilted, the leaves have turned an ugly brown.  The trunk of my beloved tree is completely encircled with vines.

The whispers have become shouts.

“You aren’t doing any good here….”

“You are insane….”

“Your death would help more people than your life….”

Every depressing thought I’ve ever had comes crashing down upon me.  I take one last look up at my precious tree. Goodbye, I think.

I always knew the weeds would kill me someday.

 

One month later….

I haven’t been the same since Miora died.  I’ve always been so happy that her foster parents decided to take her in, considering she was all the way from Madagascar.  People asked me why I hung out with her, because most of the thought she was weird. But Miora was one of my favorite people.

Though I wondered what Miora was really talking about when she talked about her “garden”, I was fascinated.  She told me that her bad thoughts and memories were the weeds, good thoughts and memories were the flowers. She told me that her tree was the main thing in her garden, the thing that kept her tied together.  She didn’t talk much about the weeds, but I guess I wouldn’t want to, either. She told me briefly about her mother and father, but I could tell she didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

About a week after she died, I remembered what she had told me once.

“Amara, I’ve seen some vines in my garden.  I think it’s depression. When I touch them, I hear the whispers, thoughts that I’ve been thinking forever.  They keep telling me I’m not good enough….”

I was sympathetic, but I told her not to worry.  I didn’t really believe her at that point, so I just said that it would all be okay in the end.  I noticed that she had been looking kind of hopeless for a while, she’d been a little too quick to assure me that she was okay.  But what did I do?

Nothing.

The police said that she died in her sleep, but they couldn’t find the cause.  There was no physical trauma, no sign of a heart attack, no digestion of pills, no injections in her bloodstream, nothing.  I haven’t told the police what she told me about her garden. I know that they wouldn’t believe me.

Like I said, I haven’t been the same since then.  I haven’t been eating very well, I just can’t choke down anymore casserole.  People everywhere have been giving me sympathetic glances, and it’s driving me mad.

As I lay down to sleep, I’m still thinking about Miora, about how sorry I am.

My eyes shut, but then they open again.

I am breathing in the scent of a hundred kinds of flowers.  I look all around me. There are roses, daisies, and many others that I don’t recognize.  Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention, and I whirl to face it.

A gorgeous tree with red flowers and bright green leaves is looming in front of me.  It’s trunk twists and turns, somehow making the whole garden look even more beautiful.  I recognize it instantly because of all the times Miora told me about it. It is her royal poinciana, and I am in her garden.

Quote #39

Image credit; http://www.pinterest.com

Site obtained from; http://www.quoteread.com

So, I was just scrolling through Pinterest (best place ever to find quotes) and I saw this one.  This is really true, in a lot of ways.  Your true friends (or family) will know when you’re sad without you having to tell them.  They’ll just do little things to help you feel better.  I think this is important if you’re looking for a future partner, that they will listen to you even if you haven’t said anything.  They’ll observe, they won’t have to have a direct command, “help me”.  This is kind of short, but there’s not a whole lot to say.  The quote kind of speaks for itself.

Yours in writing,

Adrienne Parker

Quote #38

Positive & Motivational Quotes on Instagram: “#thegoodquote 🌻”

Image credit; http://www.pinterest.com

Site obtained from; http://www.instagram.com

Okay, I saw this quote on Pinterest (obviously), and I was really hit hard by this.  I saved it to a board so that I would look at it later.  But I seriously got to thinking about this quote, and I’m not sure how true it is.  I mean, what if this guy makes a huge effort to talk to this girl, but she is really annoyed by him?  I don’t think that means he is interested in her.  For the most part, he must like the attention and popularity she could get him, if she refused to talk or be his “friend”.  But, maybe he actually likes her, and it’s just his way of saying “I love you” or he has to act a certain way to maintain a reputation with his friends.  I don’t know, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Yours in writing,

Adrienne Parker

Quote #37

“Where you go from here is completely up to you.  Remember this before everything you say, and everything you do.”

Okay, I heard this quote from Ryan Moran at State FCCLA STAR Competition.  He was the speaker that came the first night, and he told us this quote.  He said that he saw that on his grandmother’s wall and above that quote was a fork, with two prongs bent one way, the other two the other way.  Anyways, I was thinking about this quote today, and I thought I should write about it.

I think this quote as some truth.  Of course, as a Christian, I believe that God makes our path and that everything happens for a reason.  It isn’t our own works that make it so we can go to heaven, but God’s works.  I remember some very close friends of mine who believe that the LGBTQ+ citizens were born the way they were, that it’s not their fault.  Maybe it is a mental thing, but I think otherwise.  I believe this quote, that they have a choice.  I could decide right now that I like women instead of men.  But I won’t because I do not believe that is right.  Don’t get me wrong, people in this country are free to do as they please, and I won’t take that away from them.  I won’t be mean to people like that, or anything.  Just because I think something isn’t right, doesn’t mean that they have to do what I say.  I’m just saying that they have a choice, it’s up to them where their life leads.  Just like it’s up to all of us where our lives lead.

Yours in writing,

Adrienne Parker

The Only Ace in a Deck of Cards

This is another romance story, but I like the twist at the end.  This one is so mysterious, and I have a feeling people will be upset with the ending…. 🙂

 

  1. Write a story about a character who is a wildcard — their behavior is unpredictable, even to their friends.

 

The Only Ace in a Deck of Cards

I am writing this at eleven o’clock at night, dear reader, and I hope that you can forgive me for pressing my sad tale onto you.  I hope that you somewhat enjoy this, but I can’t be sure. Then again, I may keep this journal entry to myself. It is a rather hard-to-tell and personal story.  Anyways, let me start from the beginning.

People tell me that I’m wild.  People tell me that I’m unpredictable, reckless, and that I act before I think.  And these are only the nicest things they tell me. I could tell you a bunch of different adjectives and phrases to describe me, but I’ll just go with my name – Sloane.

My life hasn’t been a fairy tale, and I expect that’s my fault.  My perfect parents both work perfect jobs, we lived in a perfect house on a perfect street, I went to a perfect high school with not-so-perfect classmates.  Don’t get me wrong, some of them could be perfectly (sorry I’m using that word so much) sweet, but a lot of them were just mean spirited right down to their not-so-funny bones.

I guess high school wasn’t the worst time of my life, at least compared to other people’s high school “nightmare”.  I was popular, but only because of my rich parents. Many of my “friends” were only my friends because they were jealous, curious about my life, or trying to make me give them money.

Despite my parents and other people’s obvious attraction to me, I could never be bothered by the exhaustion that popularity is.  I never dressed in the latest brands of clothing like Adidas, or Nike. I think that brands on clothing are tacky. People made fun of how I dressed, I think because they couldn’t understand it.  I can’t really explain it, except I dressed how I felt. Sometimes I dressed up punk, with spikes, ripped black leggings, and leather jackets, other times I went with a feminine dress. I dyed my hair a couple times; the first time brown and rose gold ombre, the second with fiery streaks.

When I finished high school, I went to college to become a first grade teacher.  My SAT score was fairly high, and I had always dreamed of working with younger children.  In high school, I volunteered at the local library, because I loved helping with the younger kids that the after-school program.  I have always said that first grade is the most critical age of every child. There is a huge difference between kindergartners and second graders.  First graders are old enough to understand and impress upon a child. I wanted to inspire a child, especially if they didn’t have a great upbringing. I knew, even then, that I wasn’t the best role model, but I wanted to try and help myself as well as those young children.

Right now, I am in my last year of college.  College is nothing like high school. In high school, you are required to look and act like everyone else or you’re dead meat.  In college, there isn’t as many rules, especially when it comes to clothing, and everyone is much more individual.

In my freshman year, I met so many amazing people.  In this group are Photine, Briony, and Rain. They are wild, like me, although they joke that I’m the biggest troublemaker out of them all.  A couple of them are more the quiet types, ones who listen more than speak. I’ve learned that they don’t say much unless they have something to say, and if they do say something, you better listen because you can bet your bottom and top dollar that it’ll be smart and valuable.  These two are Juniper and Eira.

But then I met the most amazing person, and I can thank them from the bottom of my heart for getting me through everything.  His name is Amias. Like I said, we met in our freshman year in college, and I can’t imagine life without him. I noticed him in several of our classes, and I couldn’t help but stare.  Even in high school, I knew that I had a type. I loved the cute nerds.

When I first saw him, I was going with a Bohemian vibe that day, feeling a little more humble for whatever reason.  I was wearing a white and embroidered peasant blouse with my favorite pair of jeans, and some flats with white feathers.  I saw him in his plain white t-shirt and jeans, which he rocked, by the way. I saw his messy hair, his beautiful green eyes, his dark-rimmed glasses, and I knew that I had to talk to him.  I was feeling very forward and confident that day, for which I’m grateful. Sometimes I feel very shy and antisocial, but thank goodness he hadn’t caught me on one of those days.

I walked right up to him the moment class ended.

“Hi,” I said.  “I’m Sloane. You’re in several of my classes.  What’s your name?”

At first, he just studied me for a moment, but he eventually said, “Amias Wilson.”

I nodded and was just about to ask if he’d walk with me to class, as I’d noticed that he was in my next class, but he interrupted me.

“Tomorrow, after school, would you like to stop by the coffee shop with me?” he asked.

I was surprised, as he had seemed like more of a shy type to me.  But I agreed, pleased he had asked me out before I had spoken more than twelve words to him.

The night before, I squealed over Amias with my roommate (Photine) and obsessed over what to wear.  Please don’t think I’m one of those girls who brings three changes of wardrobe every single day. I normally wear whatever I want.  But this was different. I decided on an army green (in honor of my father) cropped hoodie, my favorite pair of high-waisted distressed jeans, some blue circular sunglasses, and some trusty Chuck Taylor Converse shoes.  I put my long brown hair into some beach waves and called it good.

The next day, I could barely concentrate on my classes, as Amias was in most of them.  He didn’t seem to notice me, until the last class of the day, when he turned around and winked at me discreetly.  I blushed so hard I think my face literally caught on fire.

After class, I found him and he said that we were going to walk to the coffee shop.  I was somewhat surprised, but thankful that I chose Converse instead of some wedges.

The coffee shop itself was charming, and the coffee was amazing.  From the outside, you could almost not notice it was there, but I loved it.  On the inside, it had a sense of comfort. There was wooden and rustic, but at the same time modern, decor, vintage booths, flowers, and I loved it. I vowed that I would come back.

On the whole way there, Amias was quiet.  It wasn’t until we claimed a booth to ourselves that he opened up more to me.  He told me about his life, which was both exciting and terribly sad. His father raised him alone, as Amias’ mother had died of leukemia when he was five.  His father was a kind and quiet man, and raised Amias to love books and knowledge. He was bullied in elementary for being a “nerd” and for not having a mother.  He said that it messed with his head, making him socially anxious for the rest of his life. At this point in the conversation, my hands started shaking from anger, as I could only imagine how hard it must have been for him.  So he wouldn’t notice, I clutched my coffee cup, but something must have given me away. Probably the tears welling up in my eyes.

He put his hands (they were surprisingly soft, by the way) on mine.  I looked up into his blurry green eyes shamefully, upset that I was crying.  I was normally a strong and tough-skinned person but, for some reason, other people’s suffering hits a soft spot in my heart, possibly because of my mother.

Anyways, he looked into my eyes, and I didn’t see any judgement there, from what I could see, as everything was blurry.  But he told me that he’d never seen so much empathy from a stranger.  After I composed myself and ranted for a while about bullying, I looked at him and was sure I’d never seen another person like him.

After that episode, I told him a bit about my life, mostly about my family life and my dreams.  I didn’t, however, tell him about the incident that made my life so miserable. I vividly remember our conversation as we walked back to the dorm rooms under a now-dark sky.

“I’ve never met anyone like you, Sloane,” Amias said out of the blue.

I didn’t say anything for a moment. “I haven’t even dreamed of meeting someone as perfect as you, Amias.”

I still, to this day, have no idea how or why those words came from my mouth, but I know that they changed my life.

Amias stopped in his tracks, but I walked for a few more steps until I stopped and turned around.  Amias was staring at me with such an intense expression, I was mildly concerned. I was especially concerned when he crossed the distance between us in about three seconds.  He put his hands in my hair and kissed me.

My head was turning.  This was not my first kiss, although it was the first time I’d been kissed on a first date.  But strangely, I found myself not wanting to pull away; I found myself kissing him back!

Fast forwarding, Amias and I became a couple.  The more we dated, the more I wondered how did I get so lucky?  I’ve had enough friends to know that you don’t just find the right guy right away.  Every story they’ve told me at night, while eating chocolate, watching horror movies, and sobbing their eyes out hasn’t been good.  Sometimes they’ll be in this sad post-breakup stage for months on end. It’s horrible to watch from this point of view.

Amias was different.  I felt like I could tell him anything.  But, I did not tell him about the incident, because I was worried about what he might think about me.  Most of the girls I told you about earlier said pre-breakup and post-breakup that they couldn’t live without him.  Every time they said that, I would scoff in my head, believing that to be insane. But I finally realized that it was true.  And I hated that realization, as much as I loved Amias. I didn’t want to be crippled like those girls if he left me. So I tried not to get too attached, even though I loved him with all of my heart.

It seemed to me that I had a low chance of being left, because Amias seemed to be in love with me.  He would take forever to say goodbye after we had gone on a date, he gave me flowers on random days, and he would come over all of the time to curl up on the couch watching movies with me.  He told me he loved me all the time, and he really opened up about his childhood and his feelings.

I still don’t know what happened to us, but all of a sudden, it felt like he wasn’t even there anymore.  He didn’t take me out very much, he never came over, he was always so quiet when we finally went out together.  Because I am very forward sometimes, I confronted him about it, asking if he didn’t love me anymore. He denied it, saying that I was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Then it happened.

It was a normal day, I thought.  As I dressed up that day, I was worrying about Amias, and hoping that today was the day he’d come around.  I dressed up in a chic outfit; dark green jeans, a white with blue-green leaves, white cork wedges, and my hair in a half-up fishtail braid.  I had gone to class, excited to see Amias, but he wasn’t there. I thought maybe he had just been tardy, but I didn’t see him in any other classes.  During lunch, I called him, but his phone went straight to voicemail. When I went back to my dorm room, Photine told me that Amias had left to be an exchange student in Europe.

Dear reader, I cannot explain how awfully terrible this made my life.  I really thought that Amias and I were special. But, like all of my friends, it was too good to be true.  I almost could not force myself to remain at college. But, by sheer willpower (and unimaginable measures of help from my dear friends), I forced myself to try hard, and get my degree so I can teach.  Even now, in my last year of college, I just can’t force myself to tell the ending to my story. I didn’t even get to tell Amias my darkest secret from my dim past. I’ll carry that to my grave. Which, speaking of, is a long way off.  How disturbing.

Thank you so much for reading!!  I hope you liked this twisted love story.  I also hope you learned something from it.  In my experience, you can learn something from every book/story you read.

Yours in writing,

Adrienne Parker

Quote #36

I tried to tell trailer trash that I was leaving her to seek help! What did she do? Plotted against me, threw me out like a stinking bag of garbage, then stole everything I owned and threw it away! ... NEVER piss off a dying old man!

Image credit; http://www.pinterest.com

Site obtained from; This didn’t have a site again, I’m sorry.  Full credit to the author!

I’m not sure if I agree with this.  To a certain extent, yes.  On a physical level, you cannot heal where there is contamination.  You can’t heal if there is still sickness all around you, you can’t get any better.  On a mental level, I’m not sure.  If you are mentally sick, you do need to get out of the toxic environment you are in.  But, you can come back even stronger and face that environment.  You can see the whole world differently, and thrive.  But, you just need some help, some quiet healing away from that for a while.  Then you can come out and fight even stronger.

Yours in writing,

Adrienne Parker

My Hero

This one has the most cliche title in the history of the world, but I liked this one.  This short story is actually the first one I ever wrote.  I really like it, it was fun to write the twist.  I also did not win the short story contest on this one either.  Interesting prompt, though.

 

  1. Write a story with an expanded ending — readers are given a glimpse of what happens after the story ends, maybe a couple years or decades into the future.

My Hero

As my tears fall on the photograph one by one at half-past midnight, I reflect on my life.  It has been a good one, I guess. Full of experiences, wonderful people, too. But there is a lot of dark stains on my past and will be in my future, I’m guessing.  I was foolish and naive when I was younger. Indeed, as I look back now, I wonder how I could have been so stupid to expect more.

When I was nineteen years old, done with my first year of college, I met him.

Andy.

My hero.  I had been walking down a street in our small suburb with a cup of steaming coffee in hand, not looking where I was going.  I looked up from my phone when I ran into a stranger. I started to apologize when I saw the look in his eyes. He was a hulking figure, but his eyes frightened me the most.  He looked at me as though he was angry. But I imagined something much more sinister in his mind. My mind was reeling, and I didn’t think I could get away easily. I was trying to remember what to do when another man came up behind me and grabbed my elbow.

I remember vividly that he had said, “Delaney!  I told you to meet me at the next street, did you forget?  Looking at your phone again? No wonder you ran into this gentleman.  I’m so sorry, sir.”

He smiled at the dark stranger, then looked at me.

I looked up (he was very tall) into his handsome face and he took my breath away, even then, when I was terrified out of my wits.  His dark brown eyes were staring at me urgently, and I suddenly remembered where I was.

“I’m sorry, Roland,” I had said, inventing the name on the spot.

He smiled and nodded at the colossal figure and put his arm behind me.  He steered me down the sidewalk, to the next street over, and into a small bookstore.  There, in the shadow of the Fiction shelves, he held me while I quietly cried out my shock and relief.

After I had calmed down a bit, I started to feel embarrassed.  I thanked him over and over again, until he finally put up his hands.

“Miss,” he said, “it’s all right.  You don’t need to thank me. I saw you needed help and I helped.”

I started to say something, maybe that I did need to thank him, when he shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at me with a hesitant smile.

“But,” he said cautiously, “while we’re here, would you like to go out to lunch?”

From that moment on, we kept in touch.  He lived in the city, like me. We eventually kissed a week from that fateful night we met and became a couple.  My college girlfriends were in awe that I could find a good and “cute” guy just like that. But I wasn’t surprised.  I knew that no matter what, we would’ve met at some point. It was fate.

We were matched perfectly for each other.  Where I had a temper, he was calm and collected.  While I was terrible at cooking, he was a master. While I was a bookworm, he was happy to discuss the scenes with me.  While I was not a sports-fanatic, he enjoyed the games once in a while, but did not obsess over them. We were both content with silence, though we enjoyed each other’s presence too much to remain quiet for very long.  I loved Andy with all my heart.

But he had a dream.

Andy had a dream to join the military.  And as much as I loved him, I was filled with horror when he confessed his lifelong dream to me.  His father had been in the Marines, and Andy wanted to make him proud and do the same thing.

I thought that he would not truly think about joining the military, and I eventually forgot about it.  We fell deeply in love. I could not think without thinking about him. There was times when I wondered how I could have found him, how I could have such a thoughtful person.  I found most people at my age then, twenty, to be immature and careless. But Andy was a refreshing break from them all.

We were married in November of 2009.  We were both 21. We knew it was a quick engagement, as we had only known each other for about a year, but my parents took it surprisingly well.  As I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm, I looked at no one but Andy. His face shown with happiness, and I remember thinking that there was no one luckier.

Everything about my story sounds cliche and typical.  Nothing special. But one thing I noticed a few years into our blessed marriage was how many divorces were happening.  No less than five of my college friends divorced within two years of their marriages. Because of arguments, money problems, one could not have children, lack of communication, or just because they were not ready for the commitment of marriage.  Being a Christian, I took this news with horror. It seemed terrible to me, and I worried a couple nights that it might happen to Andy and I.

But I needn’t have worried.  Andy and I were married for five years without anything wrong happening.  It seemed like we were on a permanent honeymoon. Every time he called to me through the house, I got butterflies.  To this day, I get them when I think of Andy.

Around 2014, Andy told me that he had decided to pursue his dream.  When he told me those words, my body froze. I couldn’t move a muscle.  I recalled with horror what I had recently heard on the news, that some soldiers had been involved in fighting in Ukraine and many had died.

I shook my head to clear it and was brought back to earth.  Andy had wrapped his hands around my shoulders. How strange, I thought, I hadn’t felt them.

He asked me over and over if I was okay.  I finally responded a minute later.

“No.”

Once I got over the shock, Andy told me more details.  I struggled to maintain a poker face so as not to upset him.  He told me that he was still planning to be in the Marines, and that he’d only employ for a couple years.  He didn’t plan on being the “army dad” when we had children, he had said with a faint, teasing smile. That sentence made hope blossom in my chest more than anything had ever before.

That sentence made it possible for me to go through the weeks he spent researching and contacting people.  When he finally got his airplane ticket, I sobbed uncontrollably for an hour. I packed his suitcase using his direction, my vision still slightly blurry.  I drove him to the airport as he left for the army base.

“Don’t worry.” he had told me with a confident grin and a sparkle in his dark eyes.  “I’ll be home before you know it. I get leave during the summer, remember?”

I kissed him before his plane left, and I had to stay in the city for a while to cry myself out so I wouldn’t be a danger to others on the road.  I stayed there, crying in a bathroom stall, for about two hours until I pronounced myself safe.

I drove home and barely made it before midnight.  I stayed in the house the next day, trying not to think of anything but Andy’s promise.

The year that Andy had gone passed by so slowly, I wondered if someone had bewitched time to slow down.  When September of 2015 finally came, I drove to the airport to wait. When I finally saw him, I ran to him and almost knocked him over.  I kissed him for a long time, afraid that if I let go he would disappear again.

We got home and I spent a month with the love of my life.  He talked little about his time in the military, knowing that it would only terrify me.  What he did say, I knew he was only saying what he knew wouldn’t make me have another panic attack.  I sensed the meaning behind his flippant words, and I knew it was harder than he thought. He had seen things that I couldn’t imagine, and I understood that.

When Andy left again, I cried even harder than the first time.  I missed him so much that every cell in my body ached. I couldn’t imagine that he was going to be gone for a whole year.  I waited anxiously for September of 2016.

But, when I waited with building anxiety at the airport, my beloved Andy did not step off that plane.  The weather seemed to mimic my mood, pouring rain on the windshield the whole time I drove home, fighting torrents of tears.  When I arrived home, I found a person sitting on my porch bench, waiting for me, I assumed.

“Mrs. Davis?” he said, standing up.

“Yes?” It came out like a question.  I stood at full attention, waiting for any news of my Andy.

“I’m sorry to tell you, but your husband, Mr. Davis, went missing in the Pacific four hours ago.” I realized this was a death notifier, telling me that my Andy would never come home, that we would never have children.  He couldn’t keep his promise.

I nodded.

“Mrs. Davis?” the notifier said.  I turned, already fighting tears. “I’m very sorry.  I knew Andy and he was one of the best people I’ve ever known.”

I nodded once more.  I went inside my house and closed the door.

I then released the creature clawing its way out of my throat and into the room now filled with melancholy.

 

Three Years Later….

 

It’s been a while since Andy died, and I still think of him.  I haven’t even started dating, though I doubt I ever will. It’s a hard thing to contemplate, that I won’t ever see him smile, see him laugh, see him look at me with that sparkle in his eyes.  But, I realized that night when the notifier came to my front door, that the memories are the same. I still love Andy more than anyone or anything. It’s just that he’s gone away for a while. And I’ll see him when I die.

Even though I look healed on the outside and to my friends, I still cry when I take out the box of his pictures.  There are so many, some from our college days, some from our wedding, some from hanging out with friends at a dinner.  All of them cause some pain and some happiness somewhere in my heart.

But I don’t know how to take it anymore, I think, as my tears fall on the photograph one by one at half past midnight.  I just want it to be over, this pain that never seems to fade. But I must bring this upon myself, I think. I keep staying in the small, old house that Andy and I bought together.

I’m startled by a loud knock on the front door.  I jump up, wiping my tears, and head slowly to the door.

I open it, wondering who would come in this weather at this hour.

I look out, and I see him.

Andy.

His brown hair is wet and dripping, his eyes sparkling just for me, his smile melting the inside of my heart.  My mind reels, both jumping in with two feet to accept that this is real, but the logical part of me is saying that this can’t be true.

As I run forward and wrap my arms around him, he disappears.

I look all around me in a panic.  It slowly dawns on me that he may not have been there at all.

 

Sorry!  I had to twist it!  My friends were insanely mad at me when they read this short story….  I have to say, I like being the evil author.  The one that everyone hates but loves.  >:)

Yours in writing,

Adrienne Parker