A short story
A thought-provoking, futuristic, romantic short story.
Will people feel the emotions of loss in the future as deeply as we do today?
How far will they be willing to go in finding the happiness they lost?
Caleb lost his Valerie. Will he find her?
Available on Amazon, coming to other stores soon
A short teaser
Tears in the Wind
The bright Spring sun bathed the budding trees with warm sunshine and tickled the grassroots to life. Petals fallen from the magnolia tree covered the ground, but the slight breeze sent chills through Valerie. The young, slender woman with long, brown hair wrapped herself inside a warm sweater.
When she reached her destination in the secluded corner of the cemetery, tears welled up in her eyes as she ran her fingers over the name, Caleb Winston, carved into the marble gravestone. Everyone keeps telling me I should be over the mourning period by now. She thought, sighing deeply. As she sat down on the bench by the side of the grave, she let the tears fall for the first time in a week.
She allowed herself to cry only when she’d made her weekly walk to the cemetery. She hid her sadness and tears from her family and friends. They kept telling her she was only eighteen and had her whole life ahead of her, so there was no reason for her to hold on to the boy she once loved.
They aren’t the ones who lost the only person they could ever imagine loving. Such was her thought as she ran her tongue over her upper lip, tasting the salty tears. She fished a handful of tissues from her purse, wiped her face and blew her nose, whispering under her breath, “None of them believe in soulmates, Cal, and I can’t get them to listen to me when I try to tell them what it was like between us. Not even my sisters understand. Mom and Dad keep telling me there’s someone else out there for me, and I know they’re saying it in the belief it should help, but it doesn’t. It just makes me think of you more, and of the future, we planned together before it all fell apart.”
Valerie closed her eyes and remembered standing by Caleb’s hospital bed four years ago. Most cystic fibrosis patients could live close to their forties or even longer with good medical care, but there were always those who were not going to make it. Those who, like Caleb, would develop fatal complications after an infection their body just couldn’t fight, even with the best medicine and care. He’d been in the hospital for over a month and on the lung transplant list for years, but because of his rare blood type, his chances to find a suitable donor were slim.
Her best friend and soulmate was dying. The pain Valerie felt was unbearable, but she put on a brave face and hid her agony from everyone. All she could do was be there, holding his hand and hoping that he’d get better as he did before. She could tell he was tired. Deep down she knew his body was losing the battle before a donor could be found, but she refused to let that thought surface and desperately held onto hope. A tear trickled down her cheek, and she couldn’t stop it before it dripped down onto his hand. His eyes slowly opened, and he looked up at her. The emotion in his eyes was almost too much to bear.
“I’m sorry.” She squeezed his hand. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You didn’t. I wasn’t sleeping. I was resting because I don’t really seem to sleep now. Not for a long time. Every time I feel I’m drifting into sleep; I’m scared I won’t wake up.” He sighed. “I… Val, I don’t think I can hold on too much longer…”
There were so many things she could have said, but Valerie nodded. “I know, I don’t want to accept it, but I feel it…” She blinked away more tears that were threatening to fall. “I love you, Cal, and I can’t imagine my life without you, but this is too much for you to bare.” With her free hand, she swept away a strand of hair matted with sweat from his forehead. “You don’t need to fight anymore; it’s hurting you too much.”
“I must fight. For us, for our future.”
Unable to stop the tears, she rested her forehead on his. “Maybe we need to accept that our time together is up, and our future is not going to happen.” She swallowed the lump of emotion that constricted her throat. “I hate this. I hate seeing you suffer and struggle for each breath you take. And, I hate knowing that you’re fighting to stay with me. Please, I know you’re tired… nothing I say seems like it’s going to be right, but I want you to know I’m going to love you no matter what happens.”
“No matter… Where I am… I’m going to... Love you too.” He rested his hand on hers, struggling with every word. “You’re my life. You’re my soulmate. Forever.”
As she opened her eyes again, Valerie sobbed, and there was nothing she could do to stop her flowing tears. Caleb had died that night, as though her words had been what he needed for him to be able to move on.
“We were so happy, Cal!” She sobbed. “We’d spent almost every waking moment together since we were toddlers. I remember Mom telling Grandma how lucky we were to be born a month apart and live next door to each other because Helga, your nanny, was happy to babysit me. Then you got sick and spent a lot of time in the hospital… but when you felt better, we did everything together. I will never forget our first and only romantic kiss… when we were thirteen. It was so beautiful and felt so natural… That’s when we knew we were soulmates. Then you got sick, and a series of infections made you weaker with every passing day. I wish you were still here, healthy and happy.” She couldn’t continue her monologue. The deep, powerful sob overwhelmed her and erupted from her chest.
After she cried herself out Valerie whispered, “I miss you, more than I can put into words.” Wrapping her arms around herself, she leaned back on the bench, feeling the hardwood pressing against her upper back. “I didn’t want to, but I had to let you go. I couldn’t be selfish. I couldn’t ask you to fight when I knew how much you were hurting. I just… sometimes I wish something could have happened to me too, so we could be together. I don’t know how I’m meant to live this life without you, Cal. I keep on doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but my world is empty and colorless without you.”
A sudden gust of wind blew her hair and showered her with pink petals from the nearby magnolia tree. “Cal?” She whispered, but then shook her head. “It can’t be. I wish, but it’s just the wind.”