During my senior year of high school, I retook a full year of English 10 because my narcolepsy had taken the best of me during 10th grade which caused me to easily flunk that class. One of the assignments I had received was to respond to a writing prompt. This writing prompt in particular read out a few paragraphs of a short story and required you to pick up the story from that point and finish it. Well, I figured since I have nothing better to do, that I would publish what I wrote for this writing prompt. The story provided starts off as follows:
Long ago, in a small rural village, there lived an old man who dwelled alone, though in younger days he had lived joyously with a loving wife, who had kind eyes and a playful spirit.
Despite their humble home, the two had always been content, never wanting more. One of their favorite pastimes had been tending the garden together—cultivating exquisite flower beds chock full with a myriad of crimson roses and golden tulips, and growing vegetables and fruit: plump, juicy tomatoes, prodigious orange pumpkins, and deep purple grapes. There were always fresh bouquets, hearty food, and laughter in the house, and all the townspeople cherished the couple for their cheer and hospitality. Neither husband nor wife ever spoke a cross word to anyone but welcomed all neighbors into their home to share what they had. As is the nature of things, the pair grew older, and as the years passed, the man noticed that his wife grew frail. Though her smile remained bright, he knew that she was ill. The woman, too, sensed that her days on earth were ending. One morning as they toiled together in rows of blooming flowers, her knees trembled, and she collapsed heavily on a low bench. “Dear,” she said, “forgive me; I feel so very weary. We both know that I will pass on soon. Yet, I am so grateful for the delightful life we have shared.” She paused briefly and said, “I am asking you to make me a promise.”
The following is what I got out of trying to complete the story:
“What is it, dear?” he whimpered while trying to hold back his distress. “Promise me that for as long as the stars shine their light and for as long as time infinitum flows throughout its winding river, this life will move on. Not this life as in my own, but this life we all live. Don’t stop living just because I am not. At first your bones may weep and your soul unsettled, but do not let the thought of me stop you from living at peace. Promise not only for me, but for the longevity of your own betterment and well-being.” Blank in face, nimble in thought, but strong in conscious, he managed to thread and knit his words together into the most simple piece of cloth, only reading a simple “I promise.”
The months following were tough. Not only were they tough, but they were long. Hours felt like days, days seemed as though weeks, and the emotional stress on both bodies was tougher than carbon nanotubes. She lived, but just barely. Life was but a thread, and the scissors seemed to creep closer and closer by each passing hour. It was almost as if her wellness switch just got flipped off. Soon with it would follow the master.
Once her master switch had kicked its circuit breaker, her bones stopped their dance and soon after, her presence leaked from the age old crevices and caverns that seemed to taken form over her brittle self. Like a summer’s day for a snowflake, it was depressing. Not only was it he whose soul felt numb, but it was as if the color in the day had faded to a grayscale. The rest she deserved was finally hers to have. She slept it well, but her loved ones watched her sleep silently. Silently, for they could not produce words with their mouths as their tears had drowned their voice. Not long did this happen. Life moved on.
The days didn’t seem as lively anymore. Almost like a cotton ball had engulfed all emotion and only let the intense ones through to the other side. The days dragged on and the nights were long. He was convinced the nights will never be easier. Alcohol was life’s medicine, but his prescription wasn’t fit to his sickness. He was depressed, and nothing could just flip that frown upside-down.
“I’ve failed you. Your promise wasn’t kept. I didn’t fulfill your wishes. I’ve failed. And I’m sorry. There just doesn’t seem to be a me without you. It’s hard to forget the life that I knew. To forget your smile, your smell, or those eyes I gazed through would just be torture. I didn’t live my life, you lived it for me. Your happiness fueled my own, and now I am empty. Yearning for you every minute of every hour is all I can do. I haven’t left this house in months. The world isn’t worth it, knowing that your sweet aroma isn’t filling anymore. I sit alone having lost all we’ve grown through these years. These years that we spent unaware, what it meant, now I see. I’m lying here confined to solitary. I must go with the pain; it just won’t subside or relent. I must go. I must see you. I miss you. I’ll be waiting. I hope you are too.” And just like that, with a click of the finger, his life was over. One in 7 billion was gone just like that. Bang.
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