August 4, 2012



I invited my favorite professor, my mum and dad to join me at the airport in welcoming my wife to be back to America for our wedding. Nicole and I had been childhood friends and later on in life dated for two years before she had left for Australia to pursue her undergraduate studies. Now, five years later, she was coming back home and into the arms of love - my arms. My parents were all smiles: my professor nudged me with an elbow as we watched the passengers throng through the arrival terminal. “Ha, Edward,” my Professor jested with an intelligent look, “are you ready?”

         I thought I was until the beauty that defined Nicole emerged. Her long hair shifted on her back in a breath taking view as she turned from side to side, searching. She was stunning and I subconsciously took two steps forward. And then I stopped, dead on my tracks. Something was wrong! Initially, it started as a feeling. The whole world stopped moving and the air was sucked out … and all that was left was Nicole and I. And then my eyes moved up and met hers’ in shock and I couldn’t believe what was happening! This wasn’t supposed to happen in real life, only in the movies, and to other people – not me! I saw her eyes moisten with fear and anxiety. The flowers I was carrying softly hit the floor as I took a step back.

         “No Edward! Plee… ase!” Nicole cried as she reached out with her right hand. The pain in her voice fell on deaf ears as I turned and fled.

         I jumped into the first taxi and yelled at the driver. “Drive!” My tone was angry and confused. The driver heard it too and didn’t bother asking for a destination. I unbuttoned my jacket, rolled down the windows and gasped for air. Nicole was pregnant!

         The taxi arrived at my house and the security man at the gate walked over to investigate the passenger.

         “Open the stupid gate Bob!” I yelled through the window and Bob ran like the wind and hit the switch. I had never yelled at Bob before and the look on his face confirmed this, bewilderment. The gate slid open and the car coasted through the driveway to the front door.

         I strutted into the house and changed clothes: winter boots, a thermostat black Jacket and without hesitation, a bottle of scotch whiskey. I grabbed the rifle, then on second thought dropped it and grabbed two .45 pistols. I hit the garage switch and the big gate swung open to reveal a red Mercedes Benz. I jumped inside the lustrous car and said, “Mercedes start.” Pause. “Mercedes drive.” The car purred like a cat and glided through the neighborhood.

         “What is your destination Mr. Edwards?” The car asked me.

         “To the mountains Mercedes.” There was a click in the air as the GPS buffered for two seconds and then set itself on course for the climb. I stared pensively out the window: thick snow sat on the alpine trees, dangerous sleet on the road, jagged boulders by the pavement.

         I downed the whiskey before I reached the peak, then grimly parked the car at the lodge, jumped out and threw the keys at the startled valet. I did not bother to go into the lodge; I dashed into the woods. Running through snow was a gruesome chore but adrenaline pushed me on. My insides were tight: it was as though I was holding in air, unable to breath. I needed to kill something, someone. I needed a release.

I ran deep into the forest until I arrived on familiar woods. Here, I stealthily crouched until I saw what I was looking for: five huge deer strolling in the woods. I pulled out my .45 and aimed at one of the deer’s head. Too easy, I thought as I switched my aim to the leg. And then I heard Nicole’s voice at the back of my mind.

“Promise me something Edward.” We used to come here often as kids. We called it Utopia, our little paradise on earth.

“What Nicole?” I asked. I was only fourteen years old then.

“That you will never kill any animals here. Lets make this place special for us,” Nicole had said.

“Okay Nicole, I promise.”

I pulled the trigger and the loud explosive noise fell snow from the trees. The animals fled, the wounded deer trudging behind, a trail of blood in the snow. I pulled out my hunting knife and pursued it. By the time I caught up with it, the scotch had kicked in and I began to sway. I jumped on the animal and drove my knife into its neck. The animal screamed in pain and collapsed with a thud.  I laughed sadistically. I was beyond control. I pulled out the knife and drove it into the belly: metal blade sucked through flesh. I pulled it out and drove it into the chest… the heart… the neck again… and again… and again. Blood spluttered all over my face and body and I laughed like a mad man. The irony of life. Just when I thought I had everything in life, I had nothing. Money, wealth and fame …. without love … all added to nothing … were trivial. And then I stopped laughing and knelt on the ground. A picture of an innocent Nicole flashed through my eyes and I started crying.

         It started with a sniff, a snob and then a wail. Why? Why Nicole? How could you do this to me, to us?  The rhetoric of a drunk: a wounded man. Without Nicole, I was incomplete. My whole life had been about fixing things. How could I fix this?



I dragged the deer through the snow towards the cave. I stayed in the caves for weeks thinking that I would feel better but the opposite happened, I felt worse. My heart was broken. It was a different kind of pain, tormenting: I couldn’t hide from the memories.

One night I woke up in the middle of the night with the feeling that I had left a door open. The fire was still burning outside my cave, but when I looked up, I saw the silhouette of a girl calmly feeding the flames. Was I dreaming? No. It was Nicole, watching me as I slept. “Nicole?” I stared at her puzzled.

         “I knew that I would find you here,” she said as she threw sticks into the fire. “I came to say goodbye.”

I walked over and sat next to her. Her expression looked distant, almost detached.

“Where will you go?” I asked with a yawn. “This is your home. You were born here.”

“A place is made by people,” Nicole said solemnly. “I came back for you, but you won’t have me … won’t even talk to me!” A dark cloud shadowed the moon.

“You cheated on me Nicole! You broke your promise to be faithful to me! You… you destroyed us!” I almost yelled. The words had been burning my insides for weeks. I needed to say them. I had to say them. Tears streaked down her face. “How could you Nicole? Why didn’t you tell me?” My words came faster than I could control myself. Nicole cried some more. Then finally she spoke in a whimper.

         “I didn’t know how to tell you Edward. I mean, all my life, I had planned to wait for you… looked forward to marrying you, and this, being pregnant was the last thing on my mind.”

         I looked puzzled. “What? You cheated on me! We are done! I don’t wonna see again!” We were both crying. I wanted to hurt her as much as she had hurt me.

         “Please Edward, don’t say that. You are the only one left in my life. Please take back those words!”

         Her tears and words left me in a dilemma. Her demeanor was an enigma. We sat in silence as the fire crackled, oblivious to the noises in the forest. I stole a glance at Nicole’s stomach and wondered how many months she was. She looked huge and yet somehow mysteriously beautiful, and her voice… her voice when she spoke resonated within me and evoked concealed emotions.

         “It happened on a dark night when I was coming home from school. I didn’t own a car so I took the bus home. Two guys jumped me and hit me from behind. I remember very little after that,” Nicole said in a sad tone.

         My head jerked. “What are you saying Nicole?” Her words shocked me.

         “I didn’t know how to tell anybody.” She looked me in the eye.

         I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you saying that you were raped?” I asked.

         She winced. “Please don’t say those words Edward. Please don’t-” suddenly she doubled over and broke into spasms.

         I grabbed her and held her. “Nicole? Nicole? Are you okay?” I could see that she was in pain. “I’m right here Nicole,” I said. “I’m gonna take care you. I love you!”

         Her fingers dug into my arms and then she said. “I think my water just broke.”

         I panicked for a moment then quickly recovered. “I’ll call the helicopter,” I said.

         She grabbed me with one hand, “Wait Edward!” She took in a deep breath. “Did you mean what you just said? I need to know.”

         I looked her in the eye and smiled. “Nicole,” I said. “You never broke your promise to me, so I won’t break mine. Love is not an obligation: it’s a gift. I love you with all my heart.” The lonely weeks in the forest had all but led me to this point: a realization that love is not a switch on the wall that one can turn off.

         I watched Nicole’s face transform. It lit up like a Christmas tree and her teeth gleamed at me. “Oh, Edward. I thought I lost you. I love you so… so much.”

         The skies in the heavens opened and a beam of light appeared. In the middle of the forest, under a dark night, love found a way.

         



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