When You're Gone

You want to know something really shocking? Love is everything that it’s cracked out to be; it’s worth fighting for, worth giving up everything for.

Those were the last words Ani’s father departed on her before his death. Ani had always had a close relationship with her father, from riding in his car on the way to a morning fishing trip to learning how to catch fish, he was her best friend; she was his little princess. She promised herself that she would never love again for the loss of her father was a stake in her heart far too painful to endure again.

On a cold winter day in the tiny streets of Colorado, Ani was on her way home from the store carrying bait for her fishing rod. During the cold end of winter and the start of spring, this was the usual time she and her father would go on their annual fishing trip. This time around, only a year after his death, Ani hopes to carry on the memory of her father as she embarks on the journey alone. Though she is apprehensive, it’s the only way that she feels her father’s presence. At the fishing location, Ani begins to fish and hears a scream on the other side of the river. She runs over to find a fellow fishermen scrambling out of the cold water with a broken fishing rod. Tall and handsome, his name is Nathaniel. His dad has been the champion fishermen for 3 years running at the fishing site and is gunning for a fourth. Hoping to carry on his legacy, he takes Nathaniel on his first fishing trip to show him the ropes of his future. Though Nathaniel hates fishing and wishes to become a writer, he follows his father’s wishes in fear of disappointing him. Ani helps him out of the water and in a sudden, stare blankly at his aquamarine eyes. They’re beautiful, a mesmerizing figure that one can never stop staring at. Her stare is broken when his cold wet hands grasps onto her arm as he pulls himself out. He has no idea where his father has ventured off to, and decides to spend the night at Ani’s camp.

Cold and wet, he sits close to the fire as Ani begins to cook some of the salmon that she caught earlier. Nervous at first, she asks him what he is doing here. He tells her about his father’s fishing title and his aspirations of becoming a writer. Then, he shivers and explains that his mother died in a car accident two years ago, and is she was here, she would tell him to follow his heart; to be a first-rate version of himself rather than a second-rate version of his father. Surprised by his honesty, Ani begins to share her story, describing her situation since her father’s death. She shares that she doesn’t talk to her mother as much anymore and that being here makes her feel as if her father is still with her. As the night goes on, both laugh and talk about their dreams, their goals, politics, movies, everything possible up to the wee hours of dawn. Infatuated by her disposition, Nathaniel asks Ani to walk with him as he tries to find his father.
After roughly an hour of walking, Nathaniel finally finds his father’s van and calls his father over. His father, shocked by his son’s return quickly comes over and hugs him tightly. He begins crying, screaming that he thought he had lost Nathaniel forever. Worried sick all night, he hugged his son tighter and told him never to wander off again. The shared moment between father and son hits a chord in Ani’s heart, as she remembered once when she wandered off and came back to find her father in tears and sadness. She realized that never again would he come to look for her again, come to help her, hug her tightly as he once did.

Ani ran off crying. She didn’t know what to feel as she approached the river bank wiping her swollen eyes with her hands.

Suddenly, Nathaniel appeared by her side and hugged her. He knew what was wrong. With his arms around her, he whispered,

Like your love for your father and your father’s love for you, love is worth fighting for when it might disappear. It’s worth cherishing forever. Love is a beautiful thing; and beautiful things never disappear.

As he finished his sentence, Ani looked up at Nathaniel into his calming aquamarine eyes and realized exactly what her father had meant.





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