Short story by Liana Margiva
Crouched in the window seat, Sylvia was watching her city underneath, bidding it a final farewell. Her heart was breaking. There, far below her, in that city, in one of its homes she was leaving behind both her love and her soul. She would have to live the rest of her life without the one who had been so dear to her. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she stared at the blue sky, praying silently: “Kill me, Almighty, don’t let me live without him”.
However, God wasn’t in a rush to kill her, and Sylvia had to make an extremely important decision. A year of ultimate love was behind her, ahead was only emptiness, the solitary confinement of the soul.
So, she had decided to marry David, who had been in love with her since college. A kind, loving David. But how would she live without the one who had abandoned her? Her worst fears had materialized, and now she watched her home city and with it her dearest one, her loved one recede in the distance.
Hardly an hour later, the plane touched down in another city. People grabbed their luggage from overhead compartments, filed down the isle and out of the plane, but Sylvia remained in her seat. A youthful, pretty flight attendant hovered over her:
‘’ Are you all right? Do you need help?’’
Only after that did Sylvia get up from her chair, grab her bag and head for the exit without uttering a word. At the terminal, a handsome young man with blond hair and a strong build approached Sylvia with a single branch of white lilac in his hands. His turquoise eyes were blazing with happiness.
‘’Sylvia,’’ he called out gently.
She was trembling inside, but there was a fake smile on her face. The man put his arm around Sylvia’s waist and touched her cheek with his lips.
‘’Sylvia, darling, from the instant you called me this morning about your decision to come over, it’s been like a dream! I’ve been waiting for this for eternity and was about to abandon all hope. You’ll never regret this decision, it’s a promise.’’
Sylvia realized she had to say something, but words stuck in her throat. So she smiled sadly and said nothing.
‘’Remember, Sylvia, when we were in college you used to say that you didn’t believe men were capable of love? Trust me, I’ll love you forever. You know I had a crush on you in college. All these years I’ve been waiting for you, my beautiful, beautiful Sylvia!’’ the man smiled radiantly, putting his arm around Sylvia’s waist again. He took her bag and held the door of his convertible for her. Within seconds, the bright red car vanished in the distance.
‘’... love him and cherish him, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health till death do us part,’’ she repeated after the priest. Sylvia was uttering each word with total concentration. Her entire attention was devoted to the ritual as though she was desperate to convince herself that her past had never happened, and that life, in fact, starts right here, with these words, this day. She was avoiding the eyes of the man standing beside her, the man who was becoming her lawful wedded husband.’’ She would respect him, she’d never let him down, she’d try to love him even if she had to force herself! She would rip the other man from her heart, shut him out, starting today!
In spite of her efforts, in the most remote nook of her heart, a tiny spark of hope was still flickering; hope that the other man would come and sweep her away from the anguish she was confining herself to. But the other one was nowhere in sight.
The handsome man beside Sylvia peered into her eyes, searching for the subtle uncertainties in her soul. Taking her hand in his, he began to slip the wedding ring on her finger, half-expecting Sylvia to change her mind, wrestle her hand out, and run away.
She was looking deep into his eyes, petrified, mourning her soul, burying her love. Ah, she wished for other hands to slip a wedding ring on her finger. She would have sacrificed anything to have that other man beside her now! Sylvia took her new husband’s hand and slipped a wedding ring on his finger. She could never kiss those fingers, she thought. She remembered his fingers, his hands, beautiful hands. Oh, how she loved them!
He lifted the white veil from Sylvia’s face and she felt his lips against hers. She felt disgusted, repulsed, and nauseous! Those other lips were warm, they filled her soul with vibrant joy. Sylvia couldn’t get enough of those lips. It all ends today, she thought. She would have to forget all that joy that warmed her heart. She would forget him, just like he forgot her!
She had loved him so much, her devotion had been absolute. Why did he abandon her, what was wrong with Sylvia? She knew he liked her a lot, and he knew how she loved him and wanted him, and yet he abandoned her! And there she was at the altar with another man who was now fully sanctioned to kiss her. Sylvia would never be able to tell him that she loved the other man, him and him only, and could never love another!
She wanted to cry. Tears were pushing their way out , as though they wanted to show people they were different from other tears. Sylvia was holding them back firmly, locked them tight in their confinement. Tears stuck in her eyes, as she barred them from rolling down her cheeks.
She had to be strong and to learn to live without love. She wasn’t the only woman to go through this. But how badly Sylvia missed her loved one! She loved him, loved him deeply, and she would scream about it at the top of her lungs if she thought he could hear her scream! He did not love her, and that’s what counted after all.
Sylvia was hugged, kissed, and wished joy and happiness. She was a good bride, smiling and talking nonsense with strangers, while all the time staring at the crucifix on the wall, a single silent question in her eyes: “Why, oh, why did he abandon me? Me, who loved him more than anything in the world,”
But why pester God with rhetorical questions? He couldn’t help her anyway.
After the ceremony, the couple, accompanied by friends and family, went to David’s house for a wedding reception. Everyone was having a good time celebrating, except Sylvia. She tried her best at pretending happy and cheerful, but her eyes reflected only pain and anguish. David was blissful, not leaving his wife alone for an instant. He introduced her to friends, hugged and kissed her constantly – a regular groom at a regular wedding.
Finally all the guests left, and time came to join her husband in the bedroom, but Sylvia couldn’t bring herself to cross that final barrier. She was standing by the living room window staring into the darkness, trying to convince herself that it was all over, gone forever. He had abandoned her. He said he would marry her, but did not show up at the church where she had been waiting for him. He cared not for her love, which was larger than life. From now on, everything would change. David seems to love me in earnest, Sylvia thought, if men can be trusted at all.
‘’ Come, darling. It’s very late,’’ her husband said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. Sylvia started, shivering at his touch. She attempted to smile, but her lips wouldn’t obey her. He took her by the hand and led her into a large, bright room with a king size bed under a white silk cover. Two matching bed stands with elegant white porcelain lamps flanked the bed on both sides.
David held her tightly, covering her body with passionate kisses, while she was convulsing with disgust. He took her gently, affectionately, and Sylvia moaned from the hurt arising from her bleeding soul, mortally wounded by the one who had abandoned her.
‘’ I will make you the happiest woman on Earth! I will love you like no one has ever loved you before. You’ve seen my love, you’ve chosen me, and for this I will love you till the end of my days. We will be the happiest couple in the whole world,’’ David was whispering blissfully in Sylvia’s ear. He went on kissing and holding her close, but she was on the verge of tears, ready to jump out of the bed and run, run, run... She remembered those other nights, other kisses. How happy she had been then! Now she felt nothing but revulsion.
Sylvia climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom. She locked the door and stepped into the shower. Powerful streams of hot water hit Sylvia’s face, wrapped around her body as if in a hurry to wash off the filth of this night. She choked on the sobs, tearing her chest apart, and tears finally busted out of their confinement, rolled down her cheeks, mixed with the water, and rushed down the drain. Sylvia cried, and the tears triumphed, celebrating their liberation. No one could see them now, but, hey, the tears still escaped, overpowering the guard! Foolishly, Sylvia had assumed she possessed enough courage to lock her tears up forever! Tears kept flowing from Sylvia’s eyes, laughing and screaming, ‘’ Serves you right! We are in control now, so relax and accept the facts of life! We are here to stay!’’
The next morning, David placed an oblong black box next to Sylvia’s breakfast plate. Pouring tea into her tall narrow cup painted with slender medieval women wearing long fluffy dresses, David began:
‘’ Sylvia, darling, this is my gift for you on the occasion of our first day together as husband and wife. I want you to know that these are the happiest moments of my life.’’
David was looking at her with such genuine fondness that Sylvia felt guilty. She opened the box and precious stones exploded in her face from the lush, dark blue velvet. Embarrassed, Sylvia lowered her eyes and whispered:
‘’You shouldn’t have... why, David?’’
‘’ Sylvia, my love, I’ve been awaiting for you for eternity!’’ David’s baby blues squinted at her. She flushed, and stubborn tears swelled in her eyes again. This time Sylvia gave up without a fight. She watched them drop into the cup and drown in her tea. David took her hand and brought it to his lips.
‘’ I’ll make you happy, I promise.’’
‘’ I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Dave,’’ Sylvia apologized, wiping the rest of the fugitives with a pink tissue.
‘’Sylvia, I’ve got another surprise for you. We are leaving on our three ‘S’ honeymoon tonight. Two weeks of Sun, Sea, Sand and total oblivion! Ta-daa!’’ he said jubilantly, awaiting a response. Alas, she couldn’t share his excitement. Sylvia leaned over and kissed him politely on the cheek.
In the evening they boarded a train, and the next morning, reached their destination. They rented a small one bedroom cottage at the shore, had breakfast at the nearest cafe, and walked down the stairs that wound between cypress trees down to the beach.
Holding Sylvia’s hand, David reminisced about their school days. After graduation, Sylvia taught geography in a high school. David went on to grad school and was now teaching at the local university. They hadn’t seen each other for ages and had a lot to catch up on. They took a long walk along the beach until they found a deserted spot, shielded by large rocks. Sylvia lay down on the hot sand, watching the birds circling above them in the bright turquoise sky.
‘’ C’mon, Sylvia, let’s go for a splash!’’ David said, rising from the sand.
‘’I’m not much for swimming. Go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.’’
‘’ How come you don’t like swimming? Swimming is freedom, its fun! Come on, Sylvia, I’ll show you,’’ David extended his hand.
‘’ No, Dave, please, let me stay here. You go ahead and have fun, and I’ll be watching you,’’ pleaded Sylvia, squinting at her husband.
‘’ All right, dear. You watch me swim and imagine you are out there with me. Maybe you’ll understand how much fun it is.’’ David turned and walked towards the water.
The sand smelled of the sun and the ocean. Sylvia closed her eyes, drifting down the river of her memory... Only a year ago she was with him in a similar deserted spot, surrounded by silent rocks. They had swum out into the ocean, enjoying the weightlessness until suddenly the sky was covered with storm clouds, and gusty wind blew the whitecaps across the lagoon. Mean-looking waves, their white furry eyebrows severely crossed, rose menacingly from the deep, approached the two stranded lovebirds and brutally shoved them towards the shore.
They had found themselves prostrate on the hot white sand, holding each other tight, while jealous waves pummeled their bare feet. Their lips met in a sweet, long kiss, and they made passionate love, surrounded by silent witnesses. The ocean, the hot sand, the silent rocks, and the birds in the sky all witnessed Sylvia’s unconditional surrender. She was so happy then. He was promising her eternal love, but what happened to it? Now she is with another man, loveless and lonely. Oh, my darling, light of my life! Whose body are your hands touching now?
Sylvia’s eyes were filling with tears when she saw David walking towards her, his wet body glistening, his feet covered with sand. She had to do something to hide her misery. Sylvia bolted from the sand and sprinted towards the ocean which wrapped her ankles in a warm, foamy quilt. She knelt on the shallow sandy bottom and splashed some salty iodine-smelling water in her face.
‘’Sylvia, sweetheart, you finally did it!’’ David congratulated her when she returned to their spot, water dripping from her bathing suit. ‘’ Now I’ll teach you to swim!’’
‘’ I’ll never learn to swim, no way,’’ Sylvia smiled, wiping her face with a towel.
They stayed at the beach all day. In the evening they went out to a small but elegant restaurant just a few blocks from their rented house. They sat at the bar, and David ordered a draft for himself and a frozen margarita for Sylvia.
‘’ Do you like it here, Syl?’’ asked David, stroking her palm gently.
‘’ It’s great. Nice music too.’’ She looked up at David, but suddenly saw his smiling face. Sylvia closed her eyes, trying to shake off the optical illusion, but when she opened them, his face flashed in front of her again. They used to go out to a place just like this, him and Sylvia, only in another world. They would drink, talk sweet nonsense, and listen to music. He would have his arm around her, pull her close, ravage her mouth with kisses. Sylvia’s soul exploded with happiness when his warm lips touched hers. She closed her eyes again, and the tears that had been waiting for the right occasion, cascaded down her cheeks.
‘’ Dave, why would two loving people go their separate ways?’’ Sylvia asked her husband, turning her face away to hide the insurgent tears.
‘’ Nonsense, Syl, it won’t happen to us! I love you more than anything or anybody, and I’ve been waiting for you for eternity! Why would we want to go separate ways?’’ David turned her head towards him, and kissed her lightly on the lips. Sylvia looked into the gorgeous sea-green eyes of her husband, but what she saw was his dark eyes. She touched her husband’s clean-shaved chin, and remembered the short dark beard of the man she loved.
‘’ I am completely stoned,’’ Sylvia giggled through her tears.
‘’ You look fine to me,’’ David said, wiping her tears with the back of his hand, ‘’ Let’s dance.’’
‘’ I am a lousy dancer,’’ Sylvia smiled, ‘’ you go ahead and dance, and I’ll be watching you.’’
‘’ That’s news to me,’’ David said, looking puzzled, ‘’as far as I can remember, you were a fine dancer!’’
‘’ That was centuries ago.’’ She took a sip of her sweet golden margarita.’’ I’ve lost my shape.’’
‘’ Fine then,’’ David said with mock severity, ‘’ you stay here and drink yourself silly, while I hit the dance floor.’’
Sylvia was watching the dancing couples, longing for his slim, muscular body next to hers, locked in a slow dance. The front door kept opening, filling the restaurant with more and more couples. Sylvia caught herself casting glances towards the front door, as if she expected him to make a sudden entrance, blowing every other man in the room away by his aristocratic Mediterranean magnificence. She finished her drink by the time David came back.
‘’ You are on the roll tonight, sweetheart,’’ he laughed, nodding towards a battery of empty margarita glasses. Sylvia raised her glassy eyes at David and saw his tanned, bearded face. She threw her arms around him, and said with all the unspent passion burning inside her:
‘’ My darling, my eternal love! I miss you so much! I miss your handsome face, your beautiful eyes, your firm, tender hands!’’
‘’ But I’ve only been out for a couple of minutes, love,’’ David said, holding her close, stroking her hair. She trembled and tears swelled in her eyes again.
‘’ I am so loaded,’’ Sylvia whispered, going limp in David’s arms. ‘’Let’s go home.’’
Two weeks flew by, and the honeymooners returned home. Sylvia found a job at a middle school, teaching geography five or six hours a day. She had a lot less free time now, however the burden of melancholy was always with her. David was an ideal husband - loving, caring, devoted. Time went by, but Sylvia still couldn’t accept him. She tried hard to love him, but her soul was still filled up with him, there was hardly any room there for anyone else. She used to love the night, but now she loathed it. Her heart was longing for the one and only who had abandoned her. Sylvia dwelt in the realm of her memories, and she was still harboring hopes that he would come looking for her, find her, take her back. Every day she waited for that happy moment to come. Her love for him didn’t seem to diminish with time, like Sylvia hoped; on the contrary, she missed him more and more with each passing day.
One month after the wedding, Sylvia realized she was pregnant. Her first reaction when she learned about it was revulsion, which later turned into panic. Would he still want her after this? She realized that her decision to marry David had been a terrible mistake, an emotional urge to get even, condemning herself to eternal agony. Sylvia wanted to leave David and go back to her hometown. But, every time she looked into her husband’s loving eyes and saw the unconditional trust he had placed in her, she would lose her heart and postpone the momentous explanation. Instead she withdrew into her shell, passively watching days go by. Having finally abandoned all her hopes to be happy, all Sylvia wanted now was to live her life in quiet obscurity.
Every night before falling asleep beside David, Sylvia kissed the gold crucifix on a chain – his gift to her she never parted with, telling him in her mind: “Sweet dreams to you, my love. I will never forgive you for erasing me from your life, but I still miss you and cherish my memories of you”. She would close her eyes and in the dark felt the touch of his warm lips on her body. She would keep her eyes shut tightly in order to not see her husband, who was caressing her and saying, “Sylvia, my darling, my only love. I’m so happy with you”.
Sylvia did not respond to his whisper. She silently cried, shedding the bitter tears that again triumphed over her, proclaiming, “See, we did keep our promise to visit you as often as we can! We still like you, your nice cheeks are made for us to roll down!”
Once upon a warm summer night, David stayed late at the university. Sylvia was waiting for him by the window. She was watching the trees in the front and slowly drifted away, back into her past. Sylvia was riding in a car next to him, enjoying the view of the majestic mountains showing off their lush summer foliage. He had his left hand on the wheel, while his right hand held hers for nearly the entire trip. He knew Sylvia liked to hear him sing, so he entertained her, singing her favorite tunes, from time to time casting loving glances in her direction.
They had decided to make a stop on the way, finally finding a perfect spot in the shade of an old, tall tree with its long, densely intertwined branches spread wide, and a bubbling creek at the bottom of a rocky slope. Breathing the crisp, cool mountain air, and holding hands, they approached the creek.
The creek ran fast and mighty, as if rushing to meet some deadline, sweeping everything in its way. It snatched crab apples and small pears, twigs and sometimes even young trees that had not been around long enough to hold on to the soil firmly with their roots. Waving with their thin branches, the trees seemed to be signaling for help as they were swept away , screaming, “Help! Help! We are much too young to die! We are yet to bear fruit! It can’t be happening to us, we don’t want to perish in a stupid creek!” But the merciless creek held onto its prey, rushed on full speed, laughing loudly at the naďve young victims, “Dumb plants! Do you really think death comes only with age? Who told you that you’d live to see the day when I won’t be able to pluck you out?”
They kept looking at the creek until their heads began to swim. Still holding hands, they went back to the giant tree where the car was cooling down in the shade. He spread a blanket over the soft, springy grass, and they collapsed on it, holding each other in their arms. Sylvia luxuriated in his closeness, in the pressing weight of his muscular body. Then they laid together, eyes closed, lulled by the chirping of birds in the tall branches and quiet murmur of the leaves.
‘’I love you with all my heart, all my soul,’’ Sylvia was whispering, returning his kisses.
‘’ And I love you even more,’’ he smiled, squeezing her tightly in his arms.
‘’ We’ll always be together, won’t we? You’ll never leave me, you’ll be mine and only mine forever and ever! No one will be able to love you more than I do,’’ she said.
‘’ I solemnly swear by the green leaves of this tree that I’ll love you forever, till the end of my days,’’ he said pompously.
‘’ And what are you going to swear by when these leaves turn?’’ she questioned him.
‘’By the first snow, my darling! ‘’ he laughed, sealing his oath with a long kiss.
‘’Sylvia, dear, why are you sitting here in the dark? ‘’ asked David, placing his hands on her shoulders. Sylvia jumped up, staring incomprehensibly at her husband as if seeing him for the first time.
‘’ Oh, I am sorry, darling, I spooked you! I called you, but you must have been deep in thoughts and didn’t hear me.’’
‘’I’ll get dinner started,’’ Sylvia said, heading for the kitchen.
After dinner David retired to his den. Sylvia cleaned up, then went into the living room, turned on the TV and lied on the couch. Suddenly, the sound of music came from David’s den, a painfully familiar tune from the past. She turned off the TV, and the room plunged into darkness. Sylvia closed her eyes and floated with the melody back to her hometown, to his house...
The music played softly in the background as they danced in slow motion, Sylvia’s head resting peacefully on his shoulder. He was touching her hair and her bare shoulders with his lips, and she melted into his body, her head spinning with euphoria induced by his closeness. ‘’ Who’s shoulders is he touching now with his lips?.. Why, why did he leave me? He loved me so much, or... maybe he didn’t after all?’’ Memories hurt, but she couldn’t help it now. The music kept returning her into the past...
‘’ Sylvia, my love, we’ll be getting married soon, and stay together till the end of our lives. I will never leave you, never.’’
‘’You know, I have this dream which keeps coming back. I am at the altar with another man. I call you, look for you, but you are not around... You are not going to leave me, are you?’’ Sylvia had ask trustingly.
‘’ No way, you are marrying me, and you will love no one but me! I am not letting you go, and I will not allow you to love anyone else! ‘’ he laughed.
‘’ Not to worry, I won’t be able to love anyone else anyway. In order for that to happen, they’d have to rip out my soul and replace it with another one. But... when I look at you, see the way you are... so handsome, so strong, sometimes I am getting this idea that one day you will leave me for another woman. We women are so gullible, and men often take advantage of us.’’
‘’Nonsense, how can you believe in some stupid dream?’’ he shrugged.
‘’ I don’t want to believe in it, but it scares me. Where are you disappearing to, and why can’t I find you?’’ Sylvia queried.
‘’ Sylvia, darling, I will be with you, in your heart forever,’’ he assured her, pressing his body against hers.
And after all that he had dumped her! She had been so scared of this, and then it happened. He left, taking along her happiness, and her poor heart had been mourning ever since. Sylvia’s sad eyes had since been reflecting her pain and longing for him. She loved him so much! Her wounded soul couldn’t dwell in this house. It had stayed behind, with him... He, her only one, her dearest one had filled her soul with love, with that spectacular, ethereal sensation! He had done this, and then slammed the door in her face, leaving her bare soul out exposed to all elements, unwanted, lost, driven to vagrancy, while her body was confined to the solid ground. Sylvia felt this separation of her body and soul, and it drove her insane.
‘’Syl, dear, why don’t you turn on the lights?’’ David’s strong voice brought her out of the dreamland. He turned on the light, then bent over the couch and kissed Sylvia lightly on the lips. He lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bedroom. “Time to go to bed, baby. We both have work tomorrow”.
Sylvia gave birth to a boy who had his daddy’s turquoise eyes and mommy’s dark hair. David was beside himself with joy, fussing over little son he adored.
Years went by, each one adding more gray in Sylvia’s hair. Her beauty and strength were fading, abandoning her for good. She drifted slowly down the river of life, oblivious to reality. Their son had grown into a handsome young man. Twenty long years had gone by since she married David.
One warm summer evening, Sylvia was sitting in the living room by the open window, a guitar on her lap. She stroked the strings gently, and the instrument responded with the voice of her soul, the voice of her hidden pain. The house echoed with the sound of immortal love, flooded with the anguish bursting out of Sylvia’s heart.
‘’ Listen, Syl, why are you always playing this sad tune? We have a good life, a great kid, what else could one wish for? Aren’t you happy with me? Look, I love you very much, all those twenty years I haven’t even looked at another woman,’’ David said, entering the room. He was standing outside in the hallway, all the time while she was playing.
Sylvia felt embarrassed as if she was caught red-handed at a crime scene.
‘’ It’s just music, Dave. Just music, ‘’ she smiled.
‘’ Hey, music is born deep within our souls. Music does not appear out of nowhere, it is a reflection of our feelings,’’ David said, approaching his wife.
‘’ It may be true , but I didn’t write this tune,’’ Sylvia argued, ‘’ It was written by another person.’’
‘’ Well, perhaps you are aware of the fact that there are also cheerful, sunny tunes,’’ he smiled, sitting beside her. ‘’ How come you are hooked on the sad, somber ones? Incidentally, my dear, today your tune is kind of appropriate. Professor Ivanov died, the funeral is tomorrow. I am going down to the university, and I would like you to come with me. He was my favorite teacher, remember?’’
‘’ Oh, no, it’s terrible,’’ Sylvia said , ‘’but, Dave, I don’t want to go there.’’
‘’But it’s your hometown, Syl... I don’t understand. You’ve been away for twenty years, don’t you want to take a peek?’’
‘’ I’ve got nobody in that town,’’ Sylvia muttered, ‘’ my parents are long gone, what would I want to take a peek at?’’
‘’But Syl, Ivanov was your teacher too. I thought you liked the old man.’’ David said sadly, a hurt look in his eyes.
‘’ Fine, I’ll go,’’ Sylvia said soothingly, touching her husband’s hand, ‘’Never mind what I said, I am just... not very fond of the funerals, I guess.’’
That night Sylvia tossed and turned, unable to fall asleep. The next day, she would take a trip to the past where he dwelled, and also where, unbeknownst to David, her soul has been abiding for twenty years.
The next day, by noon, Sylvia was back in her hometown. Her pulse was racing. She was agitated beyond comprehension, as if the first man she might see in the streets of this town would be him. Riding in a cab with David and their son next to her, Sylvia was looking out at the familiar scenery rushing by. She scanned the faces of people on the sidewalks, subconsciously looking for one face she knew she would recognize – his face.
The car turned into a painfully familiar street, and Sylvia closed her eyes, only to open them a moment later, and turned her head to get a passing glimpse of his house in the rear window. The pain that dulled over the years now filled her poor heart with revived agony. Her vision blurred as her eyes were filling with tears.
Many people came to the cemetery, most of whom Sylvia couldn’t recognize. She mixed with the crowd, watching the priest perform the ceremony. Suddenly a hand touched her shoulder. Sylvia’s heart skipped a beat. She started and turned around, expecting to see his face, but found herself looking at a full-figured, good-looking woman.
‘’Oh, my God, Sylvia, dear! ‘’ her former classmate cried out, planting a big kiss on Sylvia’s cheek. ‘’ Twenty years! I’d never thought I’d recognize you!’’
‘’It’s been a lifetime,’’ Sylvia smiled, embracing the woman.
‘’So, where are you, what are you?’’ her classmate asked excitedly.
‘’ I’m still living on planet Earth,’’ Sylvia replied.
‘’ Well, are you married?’’ the woman asked.
‘’Over there, see, that strawberry blond in a blue suit? That’s my husband. Don’t you recognize him? And a young man next to him - that’s my son.’’
‘’ Geez, is it... David? Oh, my God, this is so cool!’’ the classmate exclaimed. ‘’ Remember, you had a wild crush on Steven? Everybody was so upset when he died... ‘’
‘’ Died?! ‘’ Sylvia gasped, a horrified look on her face. She froze, turning pale.
‘’ Don’t you remember? ‘’ the classmate looked genuinely puzzled. ‘’He died the very same day you guys were going to church to get married. It was a hit-and-run... Syl, how could you possibly forget this?’’
‘’He...died?!’’ Sylvia whispered, ‘’ killed the day we were getting married, you said? But that means... that means he did not leave me.’’
Confusion, guilt, terror – the entire emotional potpourri reflected on Sylvia’s face, in her dark eyes.
‘’How could he leave you, silly? He was crazy about you,’’ Sylvia’s distressed classmate said.
‘’ He died. He died that day!’’ Sylvia said loudly, oblivious to the bewildered expressions on the faces of people around her.
‘’ Who died, ma?’’ Sylvia’s son inquired, as he and David approached her.
‘’ Syl, dear, who died?’’ David asked gently.
Sylvia gave him a puzzled look, as if trying to remember who this man was and what he wanted with her.
‘’ So it was I who left him. I betrayed him! ‘’ Sylvia screamed, and more bewildered faces turned in her direction. ‘’ He loved me, trusted me. He couldn’t possibly betray me. It was all my fault. I betrayed him and left him for another man! Strange hands were touching my body when he was dead and buried! Why didn’t I ever consider the fact that he could be dead?!’’
Her questions were left without answer. Tears poured out of Sylvia’s eyes unrestrained. She didn’t want to hide them anymore.
‘’ Syl, baby, who did you say touched you? Who’s hands were touching your body? Please, explain already,’’ David asked in perplexity wiping her tears with a handkerchief.
She did not answer, instead, she turned to her classmate: “Where is he?”
‘’ Here, follow me, I’ll show you,’’ the woman said with sadness.
Sylvia followed her classmate, moving as if in a haze, exhausted, with a zombie-like expression on her face. They passed row after row of somber tombstones, finally stopping in front of a black marble monument with a pretty rosebush spreading its bud-studded branches over it. He was looking at Sylvia from a photograph on the tombstone - young, handsome and full of life, unchanged over twenty years. He was only a few years older than her son. He could not see her faded, aged face. He was smiling at her, like twenty years ago, as if saying, “Here I am, Sylvia!” She knelt by the tombstone.
‘’ Steve, Steve,’’ Sylvia called out softly, swallowing her tears, ‘’ I have been waiting for you, only you all these years! Loving you, keeping you in my heart! I have spent my whole life waiting for you, and... found you at last. My darling, I was so hurt, thinking you left me, married another woman... How could you leave me like this, to this pain and anguish of being away from you? You left this world and I died with you. I wouldn’t care if you left me a thousand times, got married a thousand times, as long as you were alive! Cry, oh, cry my soul, hurt until the fire is burning – no water to put you out, no remedy to stop the hurt! The one you held so dear is no longer with us. Oh, my God! Many years ago you killed me, but did not take my body and soul, and now I am walking this Earth a living dead, condemned to life without him!’’
Overwhelmed, David was standing next to his wife listening to his quiet, supple Sylvia mourn a total stranger. Her weeping reminded him of a tune written by a Spanish composer - the one Sylvia frequently played with such genuine feeling. David knelt beside her, stroking her hair.
‘’Sylvia, please don’t. I am here, Syl... we are all here for you!’’
Their son silently knelt beside his parents and wrapped his arms around Sylvia’s shoulders.
By Liana Margiva
Translated from Russian by Anatol Kardiukov.
Reader Reviews for
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|Reviewed by JMS Bell
|POOR, POOR SYLVIA...ALL THOSE YEARS OF SUFFERING...BLOCKING OUT REALITY AND THEN...FINALLY, COMING FACE TO FACE WITH REALITY AND STILL SUFFERING. WELL DONE AND THANKS FOR SHARING. LOVE,
JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS
|Reviewed by Bill Grimes Jr.
|God has blessed you with such a magnificent gift dear Liana.......you write so beautifully.......Thank you for your art and your friendship....
|Reviewed by Dawn Anderson
|Liana, you have captured my attention from beginning to end. Sad story, so beautifully written.|
|Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain
Brilliance shines within your words . . .!!
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Your stories grab the soul of your reader, Liana. Thank you. Love and best wishes,
|Reviewed by John Leko
|...traveling in pen...a journey of love...takes the reader down a path of eternal love for one...in the arms of another...until the path of being cast aside...finds a twist...in a bramble of roses...and a marble monument...where the truth is etched...forever.
|Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson
|A capitvating sad story . Some times its hard to forget the imprints a person leaves on anothers heart..Some times its hard to let go, but for survival , one has to move on , make changes and face the future. The story held my attention......M|
|Reviewed by Theresa Koch
|Fantastic imagery friend~Wonderful`*|
|Reviewed by Amor Sabor
|This is a classic story woven to perfection...taking the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions...experienced through the eyes of love and the very heart of romance.
|Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU
"Sylvia" is a litetrary gift to the twenty-first century's history of the MasterPen.
Thank You for posting this treasure.
Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU