When I was on my way home, on our motorbike–my son picked me up from the office–suddenly, the idea of writing this story came out of the blue. It’s gonna be short I guess, but I have to tell you, this one is a story of a person whose heart so big, I wanted to have one. On the other hand, I remember by my dad’s saying, “There’s always a lie in the middle of the word believe.”
Every idea is a treasure. Write it down. It might inspire. It might save lives. Hope you enjoy this next short story of mine.
One day, in a hospital far, far, away from the city, an elderly couple staring at each other. Love was in the air. The two have been together for three decades. Their marriage was not exactly perfect. But, they promised themselves to change their way of thinking, and be the couple who deserved each other. In the end, they have two beautiful children, and six lovely grandchildren.
And today, is quite a sad day. The wife fallen ill, and her condition declined so rapidly, and she is on her deathbed. The children and grandchildren already said their goodbyes, and now the couple asked to be left alone. Now, her husband is patiently sitting next to the bed, holding her left hand. He puts his head nearer to the wife’s head.
The wife, Annie, staring lovingly at Robert, her husband. Her chest came up and down, irregularly, as the result of her short, heavy, breath.
“I love you, sweet heart,” he whispers softly. His left hand holding hers, and his right hand caressing her grey hair.
Annie smiles as her right hand reach on to her face, to lower the breathing mask from her mouth. Annie’s hand got a little shaky when she tries to remove it, so Robert assisted by giving it a gentle nudge.
“I love you too, honey,” finally Annie replies. Her voice is barely heard, covered by the beeping sound of her respiratory equipment above her head.
“Thank you for loving me throughout the years. You were patient with me. You served as if I’m a king,” said Robert.
“You are. My king,” Annie speaks, made Robert’s eyes got watery. Annie shakes her head, “You promised you won’t cry.”
“I know, I did. But I can’t help it, sugar,” Robert then clears his throat.
“Don’t worry, we will meet again, in the afterlife, if God will it,” Annie smiles. Her fingers move and touch Robert’s cheek. He kisses the fingers fast and hold them against his cheek.
“You’ve been an amazing wife. The best wife, my best friend, my most reliable partner in crime. Thank you and I love you for that,” Robert’s lips trembling when saying those words.
“I know, honey. I feel your love. Every day. Every minute,” Annie replies.
“And you’ve been so trusting,” Robert bites his lips, containing his feelings, “Sometimes I feel I don’t deserve you. I am not a perfect man. You are too kind for me. You always forgive me no matter how badly I hurt you.”
“Robbie, when I decided to accept your proposal, I swore to myself to love you, both your greatness and your flaws. When I said, ‘I do’, means I put all my trust in you. You’re my husband and I believe in you,” Annie coughed a little, after she spoke that long.
“You really believed what ever I told you?”
“Even though I might be lied?”
Again, Annie nodded.
“Do you know how many times I lied to you?”
“Always,” Annie smiled gently, “Like when you said to me, on summer eleven years ago, that you went golfing with some friends, and as a matter of fact, you went to the pub have some drinks. Then you returned after you made sure there was no more alcohol in your breath, because you know how I hated that.”
“How did you know that?” Robert genuinely surprised.
“A wife always knows, honey. Woman’s instinct is sharpen with togetherness. With connection. You sleep next to me for decades, I even know how your heart beat sounds like..”
Robert was awed, “I didn’t realize my wife has such intuition.”
“Hmm.. Actually, I found the pub bills in your flannel shirt’s pocket when I washed it,” Annie grins, “And you were a terrible liar in my eyes anyway.”
Robert laughs, “So, you knew I lied. But why you didn’t you get mad at me that time? Or ever? You didn’t say anything.”
“I know there must be reasons why you need to lie to me, while you mostly trusted me with your secrets. And I decided to never overthink everything. What you said to me, that’s what I believed. Even if it was a lie. But what ever the reason of the lie is, I trust, it’s for our good. I believe in you. I believe in my husband’s wisdom.”
Robert buried his face in her left arm, holding on his tears, “You know, Annie, I did a lot worse than that. I’m not a good husband.”
“To me, you are a good husband, Robbie. And, yes, I know what you’ve done behind my back. I know much more than you think. But please, stop. You don’t have to explain anything right now. If you done something bad, and need to come clean, so seek forgiveness in God. What ever bad thing you did behind my back, I already forgive you, and I don’t need to know the details,” Annie smiles.
Robert kept his silence.
“Do me a favor, honey. After I’m gone, you should go chase the life you always desired. Don’t worry about the kids, they’re all grown up. I spent my time teaching them that our own happiness might be difference with other people’s happiness. We can not force ours to others, and vice versa. And I know you’ve waited long enough to be able to do that. I’m sorry if I was a burden.”
“No. No, don’t say that. You are never a burden to me. Never. You’re the most beautiful soul I’ve ever known,” Robert replies quickly.
“And yet, your heart never truly belongs to me, honey,” Annie smiles, as sweet as possible. But in her words, bitterness.
“What are you saying?”
“Honey, I know you’ve stopped loving me a long time ago. But you decided to stay by my side because you’re too kind to leave. I know you met someone else and you fell truly in love with her. I know you wished to marry her and be happy with her. I know she is your true love.”
Annie’s words are like a thunder in the broad day light. Robbie stared at Annie in shock.
Annie exhales, “Like I said, I know much more than you think.”
There was a sharp silence for awhile.
“At first, I was so mad, and almost went crazy with jealousy. Meanwhile, you still treat me nicely, kindly, and caring. Like nothing happens. Sometimes I felt betrayed. But when I looked into your eyes, I understood, that woman is the reason why you stayed. I know I made you happy, but she makes you happier and more alive. You keep treating me with great care, because she asked you to, didn’t she? Perhaps, it’s also the reason why you love her so much, you gave her your heart.”
Robert couldn’t believe his ears, and the accuracy of his wife’s analysis.
“I’m sorry, Annie..”
“Don’t be. You couldn’t help it. You may decide whom you married to, but you can not possibly choose whom to fall in love with. Like I couldn’t help to keep loving you, even after I found out everything.”
Annie’s hand started to caressing Robert’s head, “How can I blame you for falling in love? How can I hate the woman who makes you happier? That’s why I decided to believe in you, believe in what ever you said to me only. I didn’t look further and I didn’t overthink, even when I know, what ever I sacrificed, your heart still belongs to her.”
“I’m sorry, Annie..”
“It’s alright. Now, you be happy with her..”
The long, slow, conversation finally takes its toll. Annie’s breath has come to its end. And she passes away in peace.
The funeral for Annie was beautiful. Every friend and family came to bid their farewell. Then she finally buried six feet underneath.
The sky is grey. Drizzle. The weather was cold and damp. Robert still kneeling next to Annie’s grave while everyone else has left.
“I’m sorry, sweetie. I’m sorry. Sleep well. I’m so sorry,” Robert murmurs, repeatedly.
He was holding a grasp-sized custom jewelerry box. It’s small enough to be pushed into the fresh dug earth, and buried it good. Anyone who sees easily assumed that Robert is burying his wife’s ring. But nobody knows, what inside is actually a small glass bottle of nearly-empty transparent liquid which smells like almond.