Oh Life, Bittersweet Life
“You don’t mean that.” Her voice was raspy from the cold night air that surrounded us. I knew she was on the verge of crying.
“I’m sorry.” Was all I managed to say. I shifted my position on the porch steps where we sat in order for me to be facing her directly. The full moon above us cast an intriguing light upon her figure, capturing my attention.
“I don’t understand” She immediately drew me into her somber gaze as she lifted her head to look at me. I was caught up in her beauty and suddenly all I was aware of was her. The red untamed locks of hair that fell around her freckled pale face and her gentle pink lips that called me.
I could kiss her.
Sea blue eyes and red coral hair. She was my ocean, unaware that I was her moon. No matter how many tides the moon would draw, he was always miles and miles away from his ocean.
The peculiar night light above had a sharpening effect on her jaw and cheekbones, and again I was swayed by her lips. I flinched and my muscles twitched.
Why was I so impulsive? I wondered as I caught myself from leaning in.
“Caleb, what are you trying to say? It’s not you’re fault. My brother could be standing here right now and you could be the one buried in the far corner of the yard instead of him. It was a freak accident. No one had any control over it.”
She reached out her hand; I felt a ghost of her fingertips already around my neck. Her eyes still focused intently on mine, questioning me, questioning my words, my actions, my heart, my love.
I wanted to tell her the truth, yet I couldn’t. The truth had nothing to do with the traumatic incident that occurred a mere month back.
It’s for her own good, I reminded myself.
“I’m saying I don’t love you anymore.” I held my breath back, along with the truth, as I gently took her hand and put it back down to her side.
I made the mistake of looking into her eyes. Instantly I was aware of the pain they held, and the heaviness of the situation. I tasted the foul essence of responsibility in the back of my throat and I knew what I had to do.
“You don’t mean that. You can’t.” She choked on her sobs as she tried to suppress them from rising up out of her throat.
I felt my heart begin to throb. She was all I ever wanted, yet now I found myself with the responsibility to give her up. I loved her, but that wasn’t enough, and I knew this before she ever would.
See people aren’t afraid of knowledge, their afraid of the responsibility that comes with it.
In this case I had the knowledge, the foresight. In fact I’d known for a week since the trip to the doctors that had confirmed my suspicions of multiple sclerosis. There was small relief in being able to explain the more and more frequent paralyzing fits I’d been experiencing, yet the overwhelming fear of slowly losing control of my body was almost just as paralyzing.
How could I be selfish enough to put her through the lifestyle that awaited me? The statement “love is blinding” was so much true that I knew Shiloh wouldn’t even consider breaking off the engagement if she knew I’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Hence the responsibility was mine. If I didn’t, I knew three years from now she would have regrets. Regrets that would be my fault, regrets we would both have to live with, and regrets she would have daily as she would be required to push me around in a wheel chair.
“Shh.” She turned and looked vacantly out in the direction of the road where I could hear waves crashing up against the shore 200 metres away.
I was all too familiar with that beach. However I’d avoided it for the past month and I knew deep down I would for the rest of my life.
“I see him riding the waves out there on his surf board.” She seemed to be in a trance as she talked with no emotion. “I see him riding one in now. He’ll be here any minute-”
“He’s not coming hom-”
“I know he’s dead.” I detected an emptiness in her voice that made my stomach start to churn. “I know my brother is dead.”
I tried to shake the images that flashed before my eyes in response to her words. I couldn’t stop them, it were as if they were on a movie CD that was on repeat.
My mind continued to tease me with the white jaws that would rise with velocity from underneath the water’s surface, snapping up his body within, taking him down below.
One, two, three seconds pas
The beast rises again but this time with a limp mutilated body between the razor teeth. The water around me is no longer calm and immediately turns red. The shark releases the body. Inhumane shrieking rips out from his throat, as cut up arms flail wildly in the water as he tries to stop himself from drowning.
I snapped out of it and turned to look at Shiloh whose body heaved up and down as she cried with her head in her arms. I realized how sweaty I’d become from the memory.
“Shiloh, I’m sorr -”
“No you’re not. How can you be sorry?” Her arms gestured to the far side of the garden where the tombstone lay, referring to her loss.
Shiloh stood up, and I copied.
“How can you say you’re sorry?” Her question was rhetorical yet her high pitched cracking voice indicated she was about to lose it. Her sobbing shook her whole body and suddenly a bitter laugh escaped her lips. “Sorry for what exactly?” She started laughing and crying hysterically. “You think you’re sorry? How do you think I feel? I regret so many things, Caleb. I regret not being at the beach that day to prevent it from happening. I regret fighting with him; I regret not telling him I loved him that morning. So many things Caleb,” she slowed down the pace at which she was talking and shook her head, “so many things.”
I couldn’t control the tears that now flowed down my face, staining my ragged bed shirt that I’d chucked on before driving here an hour earlier.
She doesn’t understand why I’m doing this, and I can’t expect her to. It’s best I end it this way. I have to follow through on my decision.
“I regret many things too; losing my best mate was more than painful. Despite the shock from the incident, I’m at least thankful that it brought to my attention a flaw in my love for you. It was a silly school boy love, and the seriousness the incident brought around has shown me I’m not ready to deal with the responsibilities life throws at me let alone the both of us.” I drew a deep breath before releasing the final blow, “The truth is my biggest regret is proposing to you.” I tensed and waited for the words to come, the verbal abuse.
Her hand whipped across my face, I could already feel the burning imprint of her fingers on my cheek. I remained standing silently.
Follow through on your decision.
Yes it hurt now, but it would hurt more later if I didn’t do this.
Shiloh looked at her hand, shocked at her actions. She sat back down on the step, as if forgetting I was there. She remained there for a few minutes in silence, past the point of crying. The silence built up until I could no longer bear it.
“Shiloh-” I began.
“Leave.” She croaked.
“I said leave.” She remained sitting with her back towards me. “If you want to talk about regrets all I can say is the biggest regret I have now is thanking God that is was him lying in the far corner instead of you.”
As soon as she said those words I knew I had done my job. While my heart burned and ached and my stomach felt as if it were filled with stones, I knew I had saved her from many more regrets in the years to come.
I’d lived the past month regretting not doing something else that could have saved her brother’s life, having no one to blame but myself for his death.
Now Shiloh had someone to blame for her heart break, and it was the least I could do to be that person.
I know I've been extremely inactive on here, however I recently started writing again and realized what I'd been missing!Let me know you're thoughts on this one, I wrote this the other day for a short story competition and ended up winning some prize money :))