A small fire crackled and popped, the flames licking the darkness of the sky as if reaching out realizing the kinship to the stars that lie happily twinkling above. Ted and Marissa sat wrapped in each other’s arms soaking in the warmth of the fire on the cool April night. It had been three months since they met on the pier and for three months they were inseparable. It was like to opposite ends of a magnet finally found each other, and the gravity and elation of being together were much greater than the forces pulling them apart.
Ted hadn’t known he could fall in love as fast as he did with Marissa, but it felt like an inherent thing for him. Like he had been in love with her his entire life he just hadn’t met her yet. Ted’s love for Marissa was made even more special because she felt the same way. They had gone out several times to fancy dinners and starlit walks. But it was at night when everything was quiet, and the distractions of the day were gone when the two fell in love all over again. Whether it was lying in bed talking, after making love or just sitting up late sharing there likes and dislikes. They shared the stories of their lives before they met and the excitement of a future together.
This was the first time they had a chance to get out of the city in the past three months, and they were excited to do so. The cold of winter had passed, and it was finally safe to go outside and sleep amongst the stars. Which is precisely what Ted and Marissa had done, for two nights now they sat happily in the woods. Together, with only the company of the stars and the surrounding forest.
“I love you,” Ted said, looking into Marissa’s shimmering blue eyes.
“I love you too, Ted,” Marissa said smiling back and kissing Ted gently on the lips.
“Marissa?” Ted said adjusting himself so that Marissa was now facing him. “I have been going over this in my head for weeks now, doubting and wondering if it was the right thing to do.” Marissa was watching Ted with a wistful gaze. “Every time I questioned myself I kept getting the same answer.” Ted paused.
“Which was what Ted?” Marissa said with a giddy excitement playing on her face, shivering a bit.
“I look at the time we have spent together and the circumstances under which we met. I have looked at the progression of our relationship and crunched all the numbers, so to speak. I realized I was doing the math on our relationship hoping it would add up to what I wanted.” Ted looked down at his hands lying in his lap.
“Come on Ted spit it out,” Marissa said with a laugh.
“Ha, fine. The numbers don’t add up. This doesn’t make any sense, and it shouldn’t be possible… Yet, I know it is happening because I feel it. I know it is real because I am experiencing it every day I am with you. Two weeks ago I threw out the math. Math, numbers, what should be possible. It all just fades away in the face of what I feel with you. I don’t understand it Marissa but, a life without you would be as meaningless as no life at all. And I didn’t even know it until It hit me right in the face. You mean everything to me and I don’t want to plan another second of my future without you in it… Marissa?”
“Yes, Ted?” Marissa said through tears in her eyes.
“Will you marry me?” Ted pulled out a ring from somewhere under the covers. The brilliant diamond gemstone sparkled reflecting the flames.
Marissa squealed with excitement, eyes full of joy as she reached for the ring. Words that wouldn’t come formed on her lips as her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell.
Marissa woke up in the hospital to machines making beeping sounds and an I.V attached to her arm. She wasn’t sure how she had gotten there one minute Ted was proposing the next, complete darkness. Looking around the fluorescent-lit white room, Marissa was beginning to panic that she had imagined it all; that the last three months had been some sort of dream until her eyes landed on an extremely tired looking but smiling Ted.
“Ted, what happened? How did I get here?” She asked attempting to sit up but finding her strength had left her.
“You passed out Marissa; I was so worried you had died. You were barely breathing. At first, I thought you were just overexcited at the moment, but you stopped breathing on the way to the hospital. I was terrified I might lose you.” Ted said grabbing Marissa’s cold hand as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I am so sorry Ted. I don’t know what happened. Has the doctor said anything to you?” Marissa’s fear at Ted finding out about her cancer rose like a title wave inside of her.
“No, he said that he couldn’t divulge any information to me because we aren’t family. I told him you were my fiance, but he said it didn’t matter. He called your emergency contact but said no one answered.” Ted said looking helplessly into Marissa’s eyes.
“That would make sense, I had my dad listed, and I am not even sure he is still alive,” Marissa said, brushing off the thought. “Ted I want you to know that I do want to be your wife. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. But you have to know something, and I am so sorry I didn’t tell you this sooner, but I didn’t expect any of this, and it never felt like a good time.” Marissa’s stomach turned at what she was about to say.
“What is it Marissa, you can tell me anything. I Love you.” Ted gripped Marissa’s hand tighter.
“Ted, I have cancer. I am not sure, but I am afraid it is the reason I passed out. I’m so sorry, Ted. I know I should have told you sooner.” Marissa was beginning to cry now.
“I… I… Marissa.” Ted said as he stood from his seat next to the bed.
“That does not change the way I feel about you, and If you think it would somehow scare me off, you’re wrong. I will be here for you. We will get through this together. You have changed my life. There is no me without you anymore. Like it or not you are stuck with me.” Ted finished as he bent down and embraced Marissa as she broke down into tears.
She was so full of fear that Ted would leave. That she would be alone. To be left to die alone. Marissa wrapped her weak arms around Ted’s neck and pulling her head back from his embrace she kissed him as the doctor entered the room.
Nine months later-
A man stood on the sidewalk overlooking the pier. The bouquet of roses in his hands was held high on his chest as he looked out over the Atlantic ocean. Bending to one knee, he knelt on the ground a drop of water splashed next to his shoes as tears fell from the man’s face. He looked to be saying a prayer as a scant few walked passed him barely looking in his direction, facing the bitter cold of January.
Standing Ted pulled his collar up closer around his face leaving the roses resting on the ground in the same place only a year ago he met his wife. Turning from the Ocean Ted’s face was painted with grief. The love of his life Marissa was gone. Only the memory of his time with her remained.
Well, there you have it, a tragic love story. Could it have ended any other way? Of course, it could have, I made it up, remember? So why did I choose to go this route? Is it because I hate love, and like to watch even make-believe people suffer? No, at least I don’t believe so.
I did it this way because I needed closure from this story, honestly. The trouble with writing a short love story is that I am trying to show the magnitude of a supernatural force of nature that we have named Love. With, the task of keeping the story as compressed as possible, I asked my self another question.
- How can I show how in Love these two people are?
The answer. Force them to deal with the only thing for which none of us will escape, immediatley, and allow Ted and Marissa’s actions show me how much they cared for one another.
The fact that Ted didn’t run away in the face of watching the woman he loved die speaks volumes, in my opinion, to his true capacity to love another person. How easy would it have been for him to check out and say no thanks when she told him, her diagnosis. But he didn’t he stayed and married her anyway. Because he really did love her, it wasn’t some fleeting fascination.
I wanted to show in this story the development of the character Ted. From the kind of “Blah” loser who couldn’t get a date. To the steadfast, Love conquers all, giant that he became. Through all the pain and failure Ted could have given up on Love, but he didn’t.
Like Marissa liked to say, Ted kept on swinging.
We hit home runs sometimes in life, and in love but the feeling of the home run only last as long as we are rounding the bases for most of us. The fact is we have to get back up to the plate at some point, holding the bat, staring life in the face as it throws curve ball after curve ball at us, and keep swinging even if we do strike out sometimes.
The promise of the home run is only there to those who attempt to hit the ball.
I hope you all enjoyed this story. I am not going to lie; It was an incredible challenge for me. Not because I didn’t enjoy the story but because romance is not a subject I am particularly interested in writing on. But that is why I did it.
I wanted to learn and grow, and I have. I learned that I can be proud of the work I do without being head over heels in love with it. I can still believe its excellent work, and that is a massive leap for me. Before this, I thought I could only write something interesting if I truly loved it and wanted to write it. That is just not the case.
There is something to doing things that make me uncomfortable. It forces me to grow and ask my self some profound digging questions about the kind of person I want to be, and I do Love that.
Have a great day.
Did you enjoy this story? Or hate it and me for ever being written? Let me know in the comments.