This story is by Yagmur Ture and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Her eyes were blurry but Hope wasn’t crying. She had promised him that she would never cry again. Not for him at least. But there she was at the edge of breaking down. Glancing down at her watch, hope found its way to her heart. The clock was ticking, just like a heartbeat.Tick-tock, tick-tock…
Yellows and greens and oranges were covering the crowded streets of London. The air was cold yet the trees were on fire giving the big city a little warmth. They were lining the sidewalk that lead to the park, her favorite place. Now looking at the naked trees and empty benches, Hope realized that it was becoming her personal hell. She stood outside of the cafe they always used to go, eyes wandering around the park.
Remembering the first day they met, she gulped. Her eyes burned a little more. Every little detail was carved into her mind. She closed her eyes and let her mind slip into the memory lane.
Two years ago today, the park was lit by the first rays of the day, shining through the thin layer of the dark clouds. Smell of freshly cut grass and rain was lingering in the air. Icy eyes were following the colorful leaves as they danced their way to the damp ground. The view was mesmerizing. She had already forgotten about the book that was laying open on her lap. Her finger was pressed down on a word, marking the place she had stopped reading.
Love, it said. Fall is the best season to fall in love. Hope didn’t pay much attention to the meaning of the words. Love didn’t make sense to her. It was a book after all. Her ticket out of the reality.
Her peace was cut by wet paws on her chest. A yelp of surprise had left her mouth, even though the impact was pretty small. Amber eyes were staring at her and she could feel a hot breath on her face. Suddenly, the weight was lifted off of her small body.
“God! I– Sorry!” There stood a young man with blushed cheeks. Both his hands were gripping the leash, trying to keep the little beast down. A black wolf-like dog was watching her in awe, still trying to reach her. “Angel doesn’t usually act like this.”
After patting her peacoat, Hope offered her hand, “It’s okay. I’m Hope.”
“River.” His hand was cold and a little harsh as he shook her smaller one.
Hope silently reached for her bag and pulled out a sandwich, placing it in front of the little beast. “Ah,” River smiled to himself. “that explains it. You know, now that your breakfast is all gone why don’t I buy you one?” All of it was happening too fast but she couldn’t find it in her to say no.
Hope slipped back to reality and tried to stop her mind from reaching out to other memories, she closed her eyes and puffed out the air she was holding inside. Her warm breath creating a fog on the window of the cafe. She believed that if she looked closely she could see a few pieces of her crushed heart in there.
It hurt. It hurt a lot. Seeing someone that meant the whole world to you, that vulnerable, was hard. The one who always had the power to hold you up, now was too fragile to hold his own weight up.
She clenched her jaw and squeezed her teeth together to stop an earth shattering sob from coming out. She wasn’t going to cry. Opening her eyes she finally realized a crowd of people inside the cafe, staring at her with pity.
She wondered if they were able to see her moribund heart that was fighting with pain. If they were able to see how broken she was inside. Every fragile bone in her body.
She remembered riding behind his motorcycle, then the image of River sitting in his wheelchair as she pushed him down the halls of the hospital appeared. Him, insisting on making her eat the overcooked pizza he had prepared for their anniversary. That image too was ruined as she thought of the moments she had to feed him because he was too weak to do so.
Her hands shook. Hope cursed as another painful memory found its way to her mind.
Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock…
“Cover it up!” River’s scream echoed through the hospital. He was writhed on the white sheet covering the bed while pointing at the mirror that was placed on the bed table. He was using all his energy to resist against the nurse who was holding him down.
Hope clutched his hand, squeezing and assuring him that she was and will always be there. Right next to him. How she wished she could make him believe that no matter what condition he was in, he would always be the most beautiful guy in her eyes.
River had always been a guy that hid his weak sides, trying to prove himself to everyone. Showing the lightened face of the moon to people, while crumbling down inside. As much as he was strong, he was also prideful. That was his only flawed part. He would try and succeed at taking all the weight upon himself. And now seeing himself in this condition just broke him.
With a single motion from Hope, nurse let go of River. Seconds later, sound of shattering glass scattered around the room. Pieces of broken mirror was everywhere. Hope didn’t even break their eye contact once as it all happened. She just got a hold of his other hand and pressed her lips hard against his. Now she could only hope that he understood the meaning behind her actions.
This incident had happened only a few weeks ago.
An autumn breeze blew her hoodie off, exposing her shaved head, matching his. Hope put it back on with a sad smile. This time she didn’t hold herself. She let out a heart shattering scream. She didn’t know what she was feeling, what she was supposed to feel. She was worn out and felt like drowning. Like her heart was being ripped off. But Hope still wasn’t crying.
Her legs gave out under her and slid against the window. She was exhausted. What the hell was she doing? Crumpled up on a sidewalk while her love was taking his last breaths. She was stupid. So, so stupid. Just because he begged her to get out of that hospital room, just because he tried shouting with his dying voice so she would not see him at his worst. Now there she was. All alone and in pain.
Was it the right decision? Doing as he said without questioning it. Because Hope wanted to make River happy, even though it killed her inside. She hated being away. Her heart was beating in her throat. Her hands were clenched and sweaty in her pockets. She was shaking. So bad that Hope could hear her teeth chattering. All she wanted to do was run away. Run away from this reality. Hope was scared of what was coming. The end of their story was written before the beginning. Nothing she could do would’ve changed it.
Death wasn’t kind. It snatched where it could, taking people who were way too good and way too kind. It wasn’t fair and it didn’t care. Tearing good souls from their lives, their loved ones. And the worst part was there was not a single thing you could do to prevent it from happening. You just watched as people slipped away from you, right before your eyes.
Her eyes moved to her watch. The second hand wasn’t moving anymore. The wind had stopped. No leaf was moving an inch. Rain drops were hanging in the air. Hope’s blood ran cold in her veins.
She couldn’t hear. She couldn’t think. The walls that were holding her up, that made her strong just…collapsed. Moment by moment, memory by memory, they all fell apart. With one last tock, a single tear streamed down her face. As rain drops started to fall Hope felt a wet snout against her cold skin, licking away her tear. She looked up to meet a pair of amber eyes. Angel was standing next to her. She ran a hand through the dog’s black fur as Angel snuggled up to her, resting her head on Hope’s shoulder. Hope’s lips stretched into a weak smile. She could almost see those eyes giving her a reassuring look. Telling her that everything was going to be alright, that there will always be hope.