Sometimes, you come across a story that resonates with you so strongly that you feel like the Universe or Life itself has spoken to you through someone else’s creative gift. I do believe that writing is not only a craft but a form of magic. And while stories come to writers through many different channels like personal experiences, inspiration from other stories, or putting together plotlines and characters, there remains that mysterious vessel that floats into a writer’s head with a story onboard that has come from a place where all the stories of the world and beyond are stored.
David Vorhees, during our conversation on Twitter regarding the hardships indie authors have to go throw accepting negative reviews for their work as a part of their lot, shared the short story he has written, and that story has touched me so deeply that I wanted to share it with more people. Although the words have caused tears in me, somehow, they felt healing at the same time.
David Vorhees has allowed me to share his story here, and I’m doing it with great pleasure.
He sits there on a bench he purchased just for moments like this. It’s early fall, just as the leaves are beginning to change. This is her favorite time of year, he thinks to himself fighting back the tears he has become accustomed to since it happened. The day is warm but a cool breeze flows through the trees. He closes his eyes and pretends that he can smell her perfume on the breeze, and for a moment, just a moment, he can.
He stares at the headstone in front of him and begins to ask God why, he wonders if God exists at all and if so, how could he let this happen to her. He wonders what did he do so wrong that this is his punishment.
“Is this seat taken?” he hears a voice but doesn’t register what was said.
“Sorry, what?” he asks without looking up to see where the voice is coming from.
“I asked if this seat is taken?” this time he heard the voice, it was a women’s voice, a familiar sounding voice but he couldn’t place it.
“I’m sorry but if you don’t mind, I am visiting my wife and not sure I would be very good company.” He said not taking his eyes away from the stone.
“I understand. I am here visiting my husband. He is just right there and thought it might be nice to sit while I visit.” She said.
In his mind he asks his wife what he should do, and he hears her voice say “Don’t be rude.”
“Please, I’m sorry. Please sit.” He says.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to be a bother.” She says.
“No, I… I don’t mind. It’s… you’re no bother.” He says and she sits. He can feel her sit next to him, but he never looks away from his wife’s grave.
“So, this is your wife?” she asks.
“Yes.” He replies.
“May I ask how?” she says.
“Car accident. A man ran a red light and…” he stops talking as he begins to choke up.
“I’m so sorry. You don’t have to tell me.” She says.
He collects himself, clears his throat rubs his hands across his face. “No, um… sorry. It just… I…” he stops talking fighting back the tears again that have defeated him many times since the accident. “A man ran a red light and hit her on the driver’s side, her side, of the car. The doctors say that she didn’t suffer, but…”
“But you still think she may have, even for just a moment.” She states. The words seem like a question, but they are not, they are a statement. He nods his head. He thinks if he tries to talk again, he will lose the battle and the tears will flow. “How long ago did she pass?”
“6 months ago.” He says after he regains his composure again. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I am telling you this. It’s just… it’s just I feel I need to unburden it to someone and honestly it seems I can to you. I have friends and family that I can’t talk to about this, but for some reason I can talk to you.”
“Things like this happen sometimes. It’s not as unusual as you might think. Maybe you don’t think your friends and family would understand what you’re going through.” She says.
“I know they wouldn’t. they would say they understand, and they would… pity me.” He says with a sharpness to it. “I don’t want or need pity.”
“Of course, you don’t, but you’ll get it just the same.” She says.
“Yeah, and it pisses me off just the same.” This time he laughs a bit as he says this, and she laughs with him. “It’s hard you know, just waking up everyday without her. Opening my eyes and looking for her. There are times at night lying in bed I roll over and my hand seeks her out, forgetting that…” this time he loses the battle, and the tears begin to streak down his face. “… that she is gone and won’t ever be coming back.”
“Yes, it is very hard, but we keep doing it. we keep going don’t we, because we have to.” She says.
“Do we?” he asks.
“What do you mean?” she asks him back with curiosity and a little apprehension in her voice.
“Do we have to keep going? I don’t know about you, but I have been seriously considering ending it all, joining her.” He says flatly, coldly.
“Do you think that is what she would want?” she asks, “Do you think she would want you to end your life in misery?”
“So, I should just live in this pain, this misery?” he asks back.
“You didn’t answer my question,” she says
“No, but I also don’t think she would want me to be in pain and misery.” He says quietly, almost a whisper. “I almost ended it this morning.”
“Why didn’t you?” she asks.
“Because I wanted to talk with her one more time.” He says.
“You wanted her permission.” She says. He sits there thinking this over, puts his head in his hands and nods. “Did you get it?”
“I don’t know.” He says.
“You said she wouldn’t want you to live in pain and misery and I believe that is true, she wouldn’t. I think she would want you to get past the pain and misery and begin to enjoy life again.” She says.
“How do I do that?” he asks, “How do I enjoy life without her? She was my life.”
“Well, now that is the trick isn’t it. You endure and as time goes on the pain and misery will subside. You spend time with family and friends. Enjoy yourself and in time maybe even date a little.”
“I don’t know if I could do that. It wouldn’t be fair to her.” He says.
“What wouldn’t be fair?” She asks.
“Me, dating someone, being with another woman.” He says.
“Do you think she would want you happy and maybe with someone or alone and miserable?” She asks.
“Happy, she always wanted me to be happy.” He says.
“Then you have your answer, don’t you?” She says. He takes in a deep breath and realizes she is right. “It will take time and when you are ready, you will know, but I know you will have her blessing.”
Tears begin to stream down his face again, but he also smiles. “Thank you. I feel better. I am so sorry I… I feel I have been taking up your time.”
“It’s fine. I’m glad to help.” She says.
“Didn’t you say you were here to visit your husband?” he asks.
“I did.” She says.
“Which stone is his?” he asks.
“Oh, my husband isn’t dead, he just needed me.” She says. His heart froze in place for that moment. He now knew whose voice it was, a voice he hadn’t heard in over 6 months. Afraid to look at first, afraid that if he did, she would be gone, but he couldn’t resist so he turned his head anyways. He sat there staring into her blue eyes, his wife’s blue eyes. he wanted to speak but no words, no sounds could come out of him. “I love you. I want you to be happy, I don’t want you to be alone.”
He nodded as the tears began to flood his eyes. He swallowed, nodded his head and said “I miss you.”
“I know and I miss you, but know I am always with you.”
He started crying in full force now. “I love you so much.”
“And I love you too.” She said as she started to fade away. He could see through her now.
“No, no please don’t go. Please. Stay. Stay with me.” He cried. And then she was gone.
He sat there for another hour or so and cried, replaying the conversation in his mind. Then he stood up, felt the breeze on his wet face, wiped is eyes and began to walk away. He stopped after a few moments, looked back, and then kept going.