(Author’s note: The month of November was not very kind, creativewise. A good portion of my brains had to be put to use at work. The rewards will be seen eventually, but it meant my online writing ended up sacrificed. Hopefully this will be a return to more weekly and sooner endeavours. Otherwise, enjoy today’s offering!)
Marty looked at her picture. He sat on the park bench, tears slowly falling down his face.
He remembered the times they sat under that very bench. Holding, love flowing between both of them. He remembered just how much he loved her, and that he told her that it would be forever. He remembered the look on her face when she saw the ring, and when she wore the wedding dress that made her look so radiant.
He remembered those words he said, as she lay in that hospital bed.
(Author’s notes: Sorry for not being as productive lately. It’s been a really tough time here in the land down under, and because of all that’s going on, my attention has been on getting myself stable, then getting myself out of here. I want to thank each and every one of you for reading my stories the last two weeks and giving me great feedback. You all make me so proud. Here is today’s fictioneers story.)
“We’ve been coming to Dad’s grave for 14 years. I’m about to graduate. You never told me what happened to him.”
“I guess it is that time,” her mother sighed, sitting down next to the flat gravestone, “Your dad came back from the Gulf, and he wasn’t right. But he always told me he was, so I didn’t say much about it.”
Heidi slowly knelt down by her Mom.
“He never told anyone. He never told me!”
She started to sob. Heidi hugged her, tears flowing down her face.
“He was too stubborn to ask for help, and he took his life. He never truly made it home.”
(For Kristi, in the tough time she’s going through)
Fool’s Gold by Miles Rost
Teresa Farmer’s hand let the phone slip from her fingers.
She was in shock, she didn’t know what she could do.
“Hello? Hello? Teresa? You still there?” the voice on the other end of the phone asked, shaken with fear and peppered with worry.
Teresa picked up the phone and breathed again.
“Yeah….yeah…I’m here. I just…I…I’m not sure if I can say anything…”
“I understand. I guess, all I can say is that I am so sorry for what’s happened, and I wish I could be there to help.”
“Yeah, I know,” Teresa told her friend, who was stationed in Germany at one of the Air Force bases.
“When I get leave, I’ll come back and we can have a gripe session about this.”
“Get here when you can.”
They talked for a couple more minutes, said their pleasantries, and Teresa hung up her phone.
She walked to the living room, the place in her house that became her conversation parlor. She leaned back in her rocking chair and just pondered her situation. She lived alone in her house, her husband moving out many years ago after a rocky fight. 6 years of marriage, suddenly gone. No kids in the house to yell at, or to pick up after.
One more lonely piece of news filled the room, a room that was slowly becoming a room of memories. The news from her friend of her mother’s passing was intensely tough. While Helena Farmer was not a rough and tough rancher’s wife, she still held her own after many years of battle. Whether a battle against a railroad company to reclaim the mineral rights under her farm, or the battle against a major crop company that tried to force her to use seeds she didn’t want, Teresa’s mother was steadfast. She may not have been physically strong, but she made up for it plenty with sheer will, guts, spit, and vinegar.
Now, she was gone. It was less than a year after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and she was now gone. Teresa did not know what she was going to do. As she rocked in her chair, a warm afghan wrapped around her, the tears started to fall. As the cracks in her “armor” started to grow bigger, she wept louder, until it was unstoppable.
For the rest of that day, she grieved. She remembered, she cried, she wailed, she sobbed. She would go through the five stages of grief a few times before she could finally release. For this day, however, she needed to grieve.
The Rainbow Bridge glowed at this time of night, the reds, whites, and greens eminating from each of the towers like christmas lights on a tree. The beauty of the bridge shadowed the pain and hurt that was present on its platform.
Yumi sat on the sidewalk of the center span, looking out over the tossing waters of Tokyo Bay. The rain just started as she sat down, and the drops pelted her slowly. It seemed as though even the sky was giving her grief.
She was alone, again.
So this is what Saya felt all those nights ago, she thought, staring at a freighter passing below her, Again, I am alone. When my parents died, I was alone. When I was rude to my sempai, I was alone.
She sniffled, as the rain started to pour down upon her. The storm in her heart was raging, the emotions filling up her heart like a rain barrel. Her body ached, her left index finger most of all. She knew these signs, of what was to happen, and that there was no controlling it.
Why am I always alone?! Why do I do this to my friends? Why do I always hurt like this? I don’t want this! I don’t want this burden!
Her mind panicked, her heart raced, as the sobs she knew were to come finally announced themselves in a groan and a cry of pain. She wrapped her arms around herself as she shifted her body, giving her more room to grieve. The war inside her heart was fierce and intense, and the emotions continued to overflow.
In her mind, a flash of memory shot out from nowhere.
“Yumi-chan, you’ve buried your emotions,” Sayaka said, as Yumi remembered the conversation from the previous day, “You show bravery on the outside, but you haven’t reconciled yourself inside. The only person who can change you is Iesu. He’s tough on the heart, but he also shows you that you’re never alone, and that change comes from trusting.”
She looked at Tokyo Bay yet again, and continued sobbing. The pain of her heart joined the pain in her head, feeding her tears. At the same time, another thought pierced her.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Sayaka’s voice cut through the anguish of her thoughts, with passages she had read to her earlier in the day.
“These words were from the great King David. He seemed to be like you, in a lot of ways, Yumi-chan. He was stoic, and very ardent in battle. But he had his problems too. And his petition there, that was his confession to God.”
Yumi looked at her now soaked uniform, and the drops of water off the leather tote-bag she carried. Her sobs continued, as she looked at the towers to her sides.
“Kami-sama,” she cried out through her sobs, “I have failed.”
The rain suddenly started pouring heavier, the sounds of thunder in the background calling a chant, seemingly echoing her cries.
“My life has been filled with pain, Father. My parents, my sempai, all those who left me, they gave me nothing but pain. And you, you gave Saya hope. You gave her something that I did not have before, something that I don’t have right now.”
Yumi breathed in a heavy breath, as hail started to fall on the bridge. She stood up, and bent her knee to the concrete. The pain that shot through her knee was temporary, and caused another flood of sobs to come through, even after the pain subsided.
“I don’t want this! I don’t want this burden, this load that I am carrying. Iesu, I want you to carry this with me. I want what you gave Saya those weeks ago. I ask of you to come into my heart, and take the pain, the anger, the strain, and transform them into something that can be used.”
Yumi clutched her fingers until they were white, as her prayers rang out like a tolling bell. The hail continued to fall, as the rain cascaded down like a waterfall.
“Lord…savior…You have the power to make me whole again. Take my life and make it whole, make me the warrior that I was before all these events. In your holy and saving name, Iesu, I pray this…”
A peal of thunder in the background shook the bridge as she held steady. Her cries were done, and she held her ground against the thunder’s call. Her face turned serious, as she uttered the final words.
As the word rolled off her tongue, a bright bolt of lightning split the sky from north to south. After a minute, the hail stopped as the rain kept falling.
She breathed in the air, the damp rainy air, and looked around at the bridge. As she stood up, the rain slowed down from a waterfall to a steady but barely soaking shower. Yumi was soaked fully, her ponytail hanging low from the weight of the water. Her seifuku was fully drenched, and as she walked back towards Minato-ku, she felt the squish of water in her shoes. Her mind was on other things, though.
She needed to see Sayaka, and she needed to see her right away.
Sayaka sat at her table, working on homework. The scrapes of her mechanical pencil as it drew across the paper filled the room with a sound that was previously filled with the sounds of the rain on her roof.
I hope Yumi-chan is okay, she thought, I don’t know why, but it seemed like the only thing that could be done was to let her go off on her own.
She put down her pencil, and reclined back a slight bit, remembering the events that unfolded earlier in the day. She remembered the pain and bewilderment on Yumi’s face, the similar pain and bewilderment she felt weeks before.
“Yu-chan, I hope you haven’t done something crazy…”
At that moment, Sayaka folded her hands and closed her eyes. She felt the need to pray, and the moment for it was then. As she sat there, a picture of peace and patience, she was silent and focused.
Suddenly, a conspicuous knocking at her door caught her attention. With a quick ‘amen’, she stood up, bowed, and walked into the main hosting room to check and see who it was. As she opened up the screen, she was greeted by a soaking wet, crying, and broken Yumi.
“Sayaka,” she sniffled, “I didn’t know where to go, but you’re the first person who would understand. So here I am.”
“Come in, come in. You’re soaking wet! Did you walk all the way over from your apartment?”
“I want to tell you everything, but I need something to drink first.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll get you something to drink, and a dry kimono to slip into. Head into my bedroom and wait there.”
Sayaka quickened her steps into the kitchen area, where she started boiling water for tea. As she quickly walked towards her room, she heard sobbing and rushed to see Yumi on the floor, head in hands, letting her tears fall. Sakaya immediately rushed to her closet, grabbed the nearest kimono, and rushed to the fallen girl’s side, giving her a tight hug.
“I’m here, Yumi. I’m here. Just let yourself go, and I’ll take care of you,” she whispered, with concern and warmth. For a short while, she sat with her friend, someone who she never thought would ever look broken, and just let her sob into her shoulder. As the sobs died, Sayaka slowly moved away and looked at Yumi.
“I will be right back. But, when I get back, I need you to tell me everything. In the meantime, put on the kimono.”
Sayaka walked to the kitchen and came back a minute later with the white tea that she always brewed.
“Yumi-chan, tell me everything.”
She sat in front of the small reading table, the dry, greenish-colored kimono wrapped around her cold frame. Her hair was still wet from the rain, but seemed to be starting to dry.
“I…I…” she stammered, as she tried to recollect her thoughts, “After the confrontation, I just started running. I ran…so far away. I was alone, as I usually am. I was so wrapped up with anger and guilt, the memory of my parents and my sempai came back to me. I ended up on the Rainbow Bridge. I actually wanted to jump. I wanted to end it.”
Sayaka’s eyes opened wide, and she gasped slightly.
Yumi told her the full story about what happened on the bridge, not leaving a single crumb of detail behind. In between descriptions, she would cry for a moment, then start speaking again.
“As I left the bridge, I was in shock. My heart was flooded with emotion, but I couldn’t cry. I had nowhere I could really go, nowhere that I could have a safe haven with. So I walked from the bridge to here. The only thing I could think about was talking to you about what happened.”
Sayaka gave her a giant hug, and looked her square in the eye.
“Yu-chan, I’ve been hoping for this for a while. I thought you’d be the most resistant to His message, but now I see you here. You don’t even know how happy I am that you were able to come here and trust me with this.”
“Really. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had anyone that I can trust come visit. But, it’s not just that. You came here after something that you know very few have gone through. This is going to be new for you, and I think that it might be good to have you stay here for the night.”
Yumi looked around, and sighed.
“I think I can do that,” she replied, “I don’t have to be at school early.”
Sayaka smiled, as she sipped her tea.
“At least now I have someone around who doesn’t think I’m crazy.”
Yumi looked at her, and smiled slightly. Then the sneeze hit.
“Oh no. You’re not getting sick!” Sayaka chuckled, as she walked to the bath and started some running water.
While she ran the water and got towels ready, Yumi looked at the Bible that was open above Sayaka’s homework.
Brian Charles looked up at the second-floor bedroom window of his ex-girlfriend’s house.
“Shandie! C’mon! We need to talk!”
No answer came.
“Shandie, if we talk this out, you won’t have to see me again. I just need to get this out.”
After a few moments, “Shandie” came to the window. A beautiful redhead with long hair, she wore the mean look of an Irish lass.
“You got me here, Brian! Spill!”
Brian looked up at her with eyes that were near overflowing to tears. This was a man with a mission whose heart seemed to be ready to pop things open.
“Do you want to know why I did not make it to the hospital to pick you up?”
“Does it involve some lame excuse? If so, I don’t want to know!”
“This is the problem, Shandie! You won’t listen to what happened! If you were willing to take a second and actually hear what happened and look at the report in my hand, you’ll know that there was a very good reason why I was not there.”
“I’ve seen you do this before, Brian! You did it to Elena before you met me! You did it to Raisa! And now you’re doing it to me! I don’t want to hear it!”
Shandie stopped smirking. As his loud sobs resonated through the neighborhood, she slowly walked back and picked up the paper. She looked at it, a police report. She noticed the time and the date, the location, and what had happened. It was as though everything she had thought about started to crack right at that moment.
She looked down at him, and those cracks in her mind got larger, and more spidery.
“Brian,” she said, a bit softer, “I…I think I need to hear what you have to say after all.”
Brian choked out the story in between tears, about how he was running late due to a long line at the local Target store. He tried to use a shortcut, but it was blocked by a creek that was flooding due to an ice jam. He drove down a hill and lost control of his vehicle as it slid downhill. He cried as he recounted the old man who just entered the roadway just at the moment he reached the bottom of the hill, and how he went through his windshield, and how Brian went unconscious after the car came to a rest in a yard.
“I…” she mumbled, “I remembered what you did before, with all these fantasy stories with your past girlfriends. I thought that it was just the same thing.”
Brian sniffled, and looked at her with a sorrowful but hateful glare.
“You thought wrong,” he said, his voice calming down, “You’ve always jumped to conclusions about things. Even after we started dating. And now, after today, I don’t want think about you ever again. Not after what you have done.”
Shandie did not know what she could do. She wanted to run down there and comfort him, but she also knew that she couldn’t. He was right, she didn’t listen. And it cost her a relationship.
“Brian, I am….I am sorry.”
Brian just turned around and started to walk out of the yard. He cleared his conscience, she got an explanation, and he found out just how it was to truly end a relationship with honesty. He looked back up at her one last time, and called back.