STOP THE HEARTACHE

As soon as I pressed the “print” button, I got a little thrill. This is the 400th story I’ve written for my site sine I began writing in 2017. That is a great accomplishment for me and I thank each and every one of you for making that possible. I hope you enjoy #400 as you read this latest ink. 😎

“Mr. Bennett, we did everything in our power but the injuries were too extensive. I’m sorry. Your wife did not survive the surgery … the surgery … the surgery … your wife did not survive …”

My eyes flew open and I gasped for air like a drowning man. My fisted hands clutched the disheveled sheets on my bed. I was soaked in sweat, my heart racing. The recurring dream came back last night. Gradually my heartrate slowed down and my fists unclenched. Laying on my back, I stared up at the softly whirring ceiling fan. I closed my eyes for five seconds and the tears started. It never gets better; it never gets easier.

Three years ago my darling Olivia, my life-force, my soulmate, my wife of two ineffably brief weeks died in a ghastly motorcycle accident while on our honeymoon in Barcelona. Frozen in place, I stared at her broken body; my brain told me she was dead but my heart and soul refused to listen.  

I remembered the ambulance and police arriving, the excruciatingly long ride to the hospital, the lonely wait in the eerily quiet emergency room and the surgeon’s words … those words that haunted me day after day after day. My wife was dead, my brief marriage erased and my heart crushed. We hadn’t even opened our wedding gifts.

I dragged myself to the shower, trying to wash away the dream. It didn’t work. It was time for me to leave here, escape the memories and the sadness. Our friends stopped calling long ago and there was nothing left for me. My parents were dead; Olivia’s parents wished they were dead instead of her. In this huge world I was utterly alone. It was time for me to go.

A loud thunderclap announced it was not a good day to take out the bike. I’d been sleepwalking for three years and I’d had enough; I needed to do this. For the first time in forever I removed my wedding ring and placed it on the dresser next to my phone and wallet.

“Will the bike start up?” I wondered “Or has it died, too?” I grabbed my helmet and walked to the garage. The bike was plugged in; when did I do that? In one of my rare moments of clarity? I slipped on my gloves, opened the garage door and climbed on my bike. It was pouring and I had no idea where I was going. It didn’t matter; I stopped caring. Now I needed to stop the heartache.

NAR © 2023

THE REGISTER

“Saunders B&B, a beautiful old country Georgian house in Tipperary, set in lovely wooded grounds and gardens. A warm welcome combined with superb food makes this gracious house ideal” recited my bride Fiona breathlessly.

How do you do that??” I asked for the fiftieth time since we met. 

“I can’t help having a photographic memory. It’s a blessing and a curse but it sure came in handy when studying ‘The Principles of Macroeconomics!” she laughed. 

It had been raining lightly and getting accustomed to driving on the other side of the road was challenging. As we turned the bend, the B&B appeared before us looking exactly like something out of a Thomas Moore poem. Just then the sun broke through the clouds, a rainbow in its wake. 

Look, Dylan! A rainbow! declared Fiona excitedly. “Maybe there’s a pot of gold at the end.” 

I chuckled at her enthusiasm. We entered the old but immaculate building and a kindly lady was there to greet us at the front desk. “I’m guessing you’re the Colcannons. I’m Kathleen. Welcome! Would you be kind enough to sign the register?” 

Fiona giddily signed the guest book. “Ah, newlyweds! There’s no mistaking that glow about ya, lass” Kathleen said,  smiling broadly. “Our last guests departed yesterday so you’ll have the whole place to yourselves.” Handing us the key to our room, she said dinner would be served at 7pm. 

Our room was charming with a view of the back gardens. Just before dinner we checked out the library. It was small but offered a variety of books from ‘Time Travellers’ to the writings of Diogenes. Dinner was carrot soup and White Pudding, a popular Irish meat dish, followed by scones and chocolate mousse. Exhausted and full, we retired early, looking forward to sightseeing in the morning. 

The next day we were served a traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash, toast, marmalade and Lyons Tea. “I am stuffed! You up for a walk?” I asked Fiona, and off we went exploring. Typical of Ireland, the day was overcast and as we walked along the path we came upon a cemetery. Slowly we weaved our way among the headstones, reading aloud the names as we went along. 

This is one for the Guinness book of coincidences” said Fiona“Yesterday when I signed the register I remember seeing the name ‘White’ and dinner was White Pudding. Another name in the register was ‘Lyons’ and this morning at breakfast we had Lyons Tea. That’s incredible!” 

“Both those names are pretty common, Fiona. I don’t think that’s incredible.” 

 Walking along we discovered Kathleen in the garden gathering vegetables. “For tonight’s dinner”, she explained. “A combination of mashed potatoes, cabbage and bacon.” 

“That sounds delicious!” declared Fiona “What’s it called?” 

Suddenly Kathleen whipped out a machete, grinned maniacally and shrieked “Colcannon!” 

The last thing I remember was seeing Fiona’s head roll to the ground and an excruciating pain in my neck while Kathleen cackled hideously. Then the whole world went black. 

NAR © 2019