The Right Words, a short story by katemarshall. Date added: 2012-06-01. Times viewed: 261.
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- Intro: A heartrending story of love and loss...
Charlotte woke up, turned over and squinted at the bedside clock to see what time it was. Deciding that it was too early to get up but aware that she was just postponing the inevitable, she sank back down and thought again about what she was going to say.
She had slept fitfully, tossing and turning all night, the weight of what she had to do playing on her mind and invading her dreams. She had rewritten the speech a thousand times in her head but no matter how she put it, it never sounded any better. The harsh truth remained the same; she was leaving the man who had loved her for four years to be with someone else.
The guilt was all-consuming. They had said they were soul mates and promised to be together forever and now she was breaking her promise and making a mockery of everything they had said. The worse thing was, she half imagined how understanding he’d be. She wanted him to scream, shout and fight for her but she knew that wouldn’t happen. He always joked that he was a lover, not a fighter. He hated arguing and on the rare occasions that they did have cross words, he would always walk away, going off to let them calm down, before reappearing a few hours later with a cuddle and a smile, everything forgotten.
She could hear her mum clattering the pots downstairs and smell her dads fry up wafting under the door. Taking a deep breath and ignoring the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, she swung her legs out of bed and grabbed her dressing gown. Her eyes wandered around the bedroom, taking in all the souvenirs of their years together, the photos, the teddies…they all seemed to be looking at her accusingly now.
Sighing, she went downstairs and walked through to the kitchen where her parents sat eating breakfast. Her Dad looked up from his bacon to give her a wink while her mum jumped up to grab a mug and started filling it from the teapot on the table. Sliding the tea in front of her daughter she said, “Can I get you some breakfast love?” “No thanks mum, I’m fine” Charlotte replied, staring into her cup. “Charlotte, you need to eat something, you’re turning into skin and bone, just try…” Her Dad stopped her mid sentence, putting his hand on her arm. “Leave the Girl alone Fran. She said she’s fine.” Charlotte smiled appreciatively at her Dad before taking her cup and going upstairs to dress.
She knew her mum meant well, but the look of hope and pleasure on her face was evident, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. She knew what Charlotte was going to do today and her approval was clear. She had never liked Chris and made no secret of it. She hated his long hair (long hair is for girls), she hated his leather jacket (scruffy and smells funny), she hated his motorbike (the things a deathtrap) and she hated the way he called her Charlie (your name is Charlotte). So she was delighted beyond words when the rumour mill told her that her daughter had been seen on several occasions in the company of a nice young man with short hair, smart clothes and a nice safe car who, she was told, was an accountant to boot! The joys of living in a small village.
Upstairs Charlotte pulled on some clothes and glanced nervously at the clock. Nathan was coming round to meet her parents in a couple of hours and she had promised herself, and him, that the deed would be done by then, otherwise she knew she would keep putting it off.
Nathan hadn’t pressurised her, just the opposite, he had been happy to take things slowly, even offering to take a step back while she sorted things with Chris; which had made it harder in a way. She knew she wasn’t being fair to either of them so had pushed herself to make her decision, there was just the hard part left to do.
Going downstairs she grabbed a jacket and shouted through to her parents that she’d be back later before making a quick exit through the front door. She couldn’t face any probing questions today and just wanted to get it over and done with. She felt her mums eyes on her as she walked out the door and up the road.
Never had a journey seemed so long or been so painful. She had decided to walk to clear her head and give herself some precious extra moments to think, but with every step, her heart beat faster and she grew more breathless at the thought of the betrayal she was about to impose on the man she had loved.
She arrived at the gates and forced herself up the path; her heart stopped. There he was, smiling at her, his brown eyes creasing in the corners the way they always did when he looked at her. Charlotte felt the tears spring to her eyes and the bile rise in her throat; she couldn’t do it. She clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle the sobs. When she dared to look at him again, he was still smiling at her but something was different, it was as if he knew what she was about to say.
Charlotte sank to her knees, the tears and sobs flowing freely and gripped the cold marble of the headstone. She stared at the picture of his beautiful face looking back at her and stroked it. She had been angry with him for a long time, if it hadn’t been for that damn motorbike, he would still be here now ,with her where he belonged. Her mum had been right about one thing at least.
All the words she had rehearsed had disappeared now; she leant forward and kissed the photo. Looking into his eyes she knew he understood, knew he wanted nothing but happiness for her.
She wasn’t leaving him, he would be in her heart forever, she was simply moving on.
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