This story is by tim brock and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“When I say that I love you, I begin to describe,the true love that I feel for you inside. From this broken and damaged heart of mine,unconditional love I give freely to thine. Like the rain and the sunshine give life to a tree, your love gives me life as it showers on me like falling leaves.”
Bradley Kincaid,who just a week earlier had written that poem for the girl he professed his unconditional love to,was now trying to speak those words with sincerity, but without saying a word. He held Katie’s hand gently as he considered her light brown eyes. He wanted to speak to her heart without talking. Saying how one felt by speaking was overrated. He wanted to show how deep his love ran for her. And it ran as deep as still waters.
He was twenty years of age, but the light brown goatee that he displayed on his chin, and his mature, yet playful, demeanor made him look just slightly older at around twenty-six. His brown hair wasn’t what the generations before him would call neatly groomed. In fact, it appeared as if he had just awoken from a long, restless night. He was tall;just barely under six feet and was almost as slender as a stick. But that was one of the many qualities Katie loved about him.
She had just turned eighteen a month earlier and was considered by many to be attractive, but plain. Her long, shoulder length, black hair was one of the physical attributes that had Bradley attracted to her from the beginning. Her small five foot-one frame would send the butterflies fluttering in his stomach every time he merely glanced at her. If there was ever a classic example of being in love, Katie and Bradley were the prime candidates. She loved and adored everything about him. Although she did at times find the act of him smacking his food at the dinner table rude and a little gross, but it didn’t matter. His eating habits were of little importance to her. He not only made her feel alive and vibrant, but he could literally make her feel like the only woman on earth. Most importantly, he not only believed how he felt about her, but graciously showed it.
Love was not the only thing they shared. They each shared a broken heart caused by damaging past relationships. The feelings of hurt and betrayal had left both of their hearts shattered. Like a mirror that had been struck by a hammer. But somehow, Bradley and Katie managed to put the pieces back together and make each other whole again.
The one thing that wasn’t damaged was their spirits.
There was an unfortunate truth that they also shared. A tragedy.
The late October air was cool and dry. A prelude to the upcoming winter that lingered over the horizon. The leaves were falling quietly as Bradley and Katie stood at the far end of the cemetery looking down at the graves that were side by side and covered with cold, fresh dirt. Looking at this seemed to weigh more heavily on Katie than it did him.
Katie looked at Bradley. “Baby…” her eyes vividly displayed the sorrow embedded in her heart, “…I’m gonna miss them. I already miss them terribly.” He hated seeing her upset. But to see her cry was almost unbearable for him. But he knew her grief. He understood it. He embraced her and held her tightly against his body, as if she would be blown away by the chilly autumn wind if he didn’t.
“I know, sweetheart.” He was beginning to feel a knot in his own throat. “I’m gonna miss them, too. I already do as well. But we will see them again.” Those simple words were all that was needed to give her a peaceful reassurance. Her head was against his chest as he looked down at her and said, “I love you, Katie.”
“I love you, too.” She looked up at him and smiled a beautiful smile at him. The October wind was still flowing at a mild, steady pace. The trees, which had been planted spaciously throughout the cemetery in their youth many years ago, gently swayed from side to side, releasing the old leaves to dance around them as they held each other in their arms. The dark, gray sky above had begun to release tiny droplets of rain that fell to the earth.
As Katie nestled her head in the warmth of his chest, Bradley noticed two familiar looking cars that were driving up the narrow road that ran through the cemetery. The cars moved at a slow pace as they traveled up the road until they approached the spot that Bradley and Katie were standing at. The cars then came to a complete stop. The passengers sat in their vehicles for perhaps three or four minutes then the passenger doors on both cars slowly opened. The driver side doors opened almost immediately afterwards.
There were two older couples, two men and two women that emerged from the vehicles. The two men wore black attire, which consisted of thick, windbreaker jackets and slacks. The two women also wore black attire. Theirs consisted of long sleeved button up dresses and pumps.
Katie turned her head to see who these people were and saw that it was her and Bradley’s parents. For the first time, she let go of him and walked towards her parents, who were walking out in front. Bradley’s parents followed closely behind.
“Mom! Dad!” she said in a surprised voice and walked towards them. Even from where she stood, which was only a few yards away from them, she could see…and feel…a weight of sadness in their faces that made her heart sink. Her parents looked as if they had aged over the last few days. She held her arms out, extending them as far as they could reach preparing to embrace them both.
“Sweetheart, they can’t…” Bradley began to speak, but he couldn’t finish the sentence.
As she held her arms out, her dad and mom walked directly towards her, but as she went to close her arms and embrace her dad, he simply walked right through her. Her parents, along with Bradley’s mom and dad, walked slowly to the graves where their children stood. And where Bradley and Katie’s earthly remains were laid to rest three days earlier. Approximately one week earlier a driver, under the influence of Methamphetamine had crashed into them as they returned home from a music concert.
Katie stood where she had tried to hug her grief-stricken father and began sobbing. Bradley walked to her and put his arms around her waist.
“Baby, they can’t see or hear us.” He spoke with such a calm, soothing voice that echoed true love in the cool autumn wind with every word. He had prevented her heart from breaking again.
“I know.” She said with a sigh. “I really miss them, darling. It hurts.”
“I know. And I do, too. But we will see them again. Just remember the love that they gave us will never die. Our love will never die. Our love transcended death. It will be forever. And when the time comes, our families will join us.”
She looked up at him, smiled and then kissed him on the lips. Their ghostly images could not be seen by anyone. But the love they had for one another could not be seen, either. Only felt.
Suddenly, there was a clear opening in the dark, gray sky above and a thin ray of October sun shined down on them. The sun’s ray felt warm and refreshed.
Bradley gently held Katie’s hand as they looked up. They then looked at their parents, who were kneeling at the foot of their graves. At the same time, they both said, ‘we love you’ to their parents. Then they were gone.
For a single moment, the chilly autumn wind felt like the breeze of a warm, summer night that they had once spent lying in the grass and looking up at the stars.
Their parents were now left with memories. As they stood embracing one another, two leaves from a distant tree each fell on their graves. As the breeze turned cool again, it was now blowing a little stronger. The two leaves were then lifted into the air and began to dive and twirl and rise before slowly falling back to earth.
“Heaven has gained two angels.” Bradley’s mom said.
“We will never forget the joy you brought us.” Katie’s dad added.
They all turned to walk back to their cars. The wind died down and all was silent.