The young woman laughed as she and the young man left the restaurant. They were in love and lived their lives without a care, as if they themselves were all there was in the world. She sent him thoughts of bliss mixed in with each giggle she let free. Her laughter infected him; he could not help but join her.
Soon the outside world would intrude, the laughter would stop, and he would taste the salt of her tears.
The young man and woman walked, holding each other, as life crept slowly by without them. She broke away from his embrace and skipped merrily to his car. Her movements were like a dance; his laughter gave her a song to waltz to. The young man looked on her as she cavorted around him, studies her steps like a dutiful apprentice, worshipped her like a faithful disciple. He felt so alive then, as if he had been created to love in that moment, as if he loved her as he had none other before.
They reached his car joyfully. He walked around her quickly, cutting her off to open the passenger door for her. Before he could the young woman drew in close and suddenly kissed him hard on the mouth. As he leaned into her, she pulled away just as suddenly, breaking off contact, and gave him an innocent look. Her eyes betrayed her; he saw what lay behind them eyes. It was not innocent, but it made him feel at peace.
Chaos reared up into their realm then. Just as he began to lean again in, a dark car sped into the parking lot and screeched to a halt in the space beside them. A girl got out and moved toward them frantically.
All smiles were lost. Recognizing the girl, the young woman pushed her way out of the arms of her love to come to this girl's side and comfort this friend so obviously in need. Once gleaming with love, the young woman's eyes were now hazed with concern. The girl came weeping and whispering to the young woman's shoulder.
The young man reacted to all of this with calm, for he too knew the girl. He had once loved her, with almost as much fervor as he now gave to the young woman. And as this girl wept, he wanted to move forward. He wanted so badly to go to her, to join in the comforting. But at that moment, he saw the woman he loved and the girl he loved, once, embracing each other and sharing their strength, and he became frozen in confusion. His legs would not obey him. He could not take a step toward them and join in the solacing; he did not know what to do.
As he watched them stand, shining together in the dim light outside the restaurant, the soft sound of rushed and labored breathing was the only noise to be heard. He focused on it, its murmur growing to a faint hum in his mind, driving out other whispers in his memory, those sweet lies he told the girl softly on nights past. Their time together had passed into nothing quickly and without regret, yet still he could not shake off his paralysis.
After what seemed like an eternity as he watched these two women, still holding the door handle in his hand, they parted without words. The young woman came back to him. Dutifully he opened the door for her. She got it. He shut it. He walked around and got in as well. They drove away from the girl as she stood, still crying, alone. All of this he did in silence.
After a time, the young woman asked him if he had overheard any of their conversation. The memory of the dull hum returned to him. He said no. She explained to him what had happened as he drove without a destination. The girl's brother, she said, had been found. Dead. His body had been dragged from the river while the girl had watched, unable to act.
Stillness again unfolded upon them like a blanket. The young man kept driving. For a while they simply rode. Then they began speaking in hushed tones, saying small, pointless things. His mouth moved without his mind knowing. He could not even think.
He stopped the car in seclusion, and they came together. Their love-making began with subdued motions, like a tired routine. Slowly it built. They ferociously tore at each other with abandon. Soon they were spent. They dressed, blushing, embarrassed of their unbridled passion having been set free, silence overtaking them along with shame as they returned to the road ahead of them.
He pulled into her driveway and finally his thoughts returned to him clearly. "Promise me something," he said to her, his eyes sad.
"What?" she asked blandly.
"Promise me you'll never die."
He looked at her and she looked at him and then she began to weep uncontrollably. "Oh, God," she cried, "I promise. I promise."
He stopped the car there in her driveway and took ahold of her. He held on as if he would never let her go. He placed kisses lightly on her wet cheeks.
Her crying stopped and she silently got out of the car. She turned and looked at him before she walked away. "I love you," she said plainly.
The young man could say nothing. She again started to cry and shouted out to him, "Please! Promise me the same thing! Promise me you won't die!"
The young man still did not speak. The young woman looked upon him, confused, car door still standing open, tears flowing. She cried again, "Promise me!" She pleaded with him over and again, but still the young man, who loved her, could say nothing.
Finally he broke down. "I promise," he lied quietly.
She shut the door and turned to walk away, drying her eyes. "I promise!" he shouted after her as she entered her house without a word.
(I never could decide on an ending for this story, just as I never was able to think of a title. Here are three options you can choose form and vote for by signing my guestbook.
Ending A: just italics
Ending B: everything bold
Ending C: both italics and bold