I wrote for a contest at first but then I ran out of time and decided to write for my friends,...
Show full author's note »
Our Only End
For the rest of those years I spent my time filling my head with academic instruction, proper posture, and news of the Great War. Simeon told me in one of his letters that the Americans have joined in. I worried less and less of the future as my eighteenth birthday came. Now I was a lady. Sister Roberta has insisted. My hair has grown to an enormous length, curving just above the small of my back. The sun has blessed me with a tint tan and I was an individual among my pale-skinned peers. There was not a day I did not smile. I listened well in all my classes and spent most of my social time with the teachers, learning so much that I would have never possibly fathomed as a child. He finally came. The day after my birthday – he returned to me. Simeon was soon to be discharged (by granted request) and then finally we would be together in a small cottage near the sea or in the land of America. The trees blossomed fresh petals and the slips of pink swarmed past me as I ran down the bright bridge to meet him. His troop was passing along here – so he had a few moments to greet me. He was resplendent in his clean uniform, looking greatly vigorous than before. Tears welled up in my eyes and I ran into his open arms. He held me tighter than ever. I wiped away my tears of joy and looked into his eyes – but there was no excitement, no joy, not even contentment. The war was not over yet, but there was something else troubling him besides that fact. “What is wrong?” I asked. “I need to talk to you about something very important.” He led me at the wall of the bridge and sat next to me on the rough ledge. “I’m…” he looked away. He gazed at the rippling water below. There was a pained wrinkle in his forehead. “I met this woman - an excellent nurse. When I broke my leg I went to hospital and was taken well care of. She saved my life. She cleaned away this dangerous infection in my knee. We started to spend a lot of time together. She’s a very wonderful lady. I want you to meet her.” I nodded and waited for whatever his point was. “Vinita, I’m going to be a father.” “What?” I barely whispered. “What do you mean by that?” “She’s the mother of my child. I’m getting married in a month.” Silence brewed in the damp air. I didn’t know how to express the anguished emotion in words. I slapped him sharply across the face. It hurt enough to make him wince, but he kept his impassioned gaze on the diligent waters. At last my agony came out in harsh roaring words. “How could you? I’ve waited years and years and years!” “Vinita. Please listen-” “No, I’m done listening to what you have to say! I’m done waiting!” He knelt down and held my trembling hands in his. “That is not the only important thing I have to tell you!” he said firmly. “What does it matter? You’ve ruined everything! My dreams that I thought you shared. But what did you do while I waited to become a woman? You slept with a wh***!” “Vinita!”He angrily snapped through clenched teeth. “It’s the truth. Why haven’t I seen it before?” I was asking myself so many questions. I have lost what I thought I knew. I snatched my hands away and turned to leave him forever. Simeon grabbed them again as I modestly hoped for. “Vinita - I want to be with you for the rest of my life.” I dropped to my knees and locked full eye contact with him. Tears were forming in his eyes and suddenly my fury was replaced with confusion. “I know I promised you those things a long time ago. Understand that things change throughout the course of one’s life. After almost dying – I finally understood this. Things change in our lives, sometimes unexplained. You don’t understand how much I love you. I still have kept part of my promise – I’ve purchased land near the seaside and we are moving in spacious cottage. Annabelle wants you to be with us. She plans on becoming a librarian soon. You could work by her side at the library in town when we go to North Carolina. “ “I…I may live with you?” He nodded; his cheeks were a burnt red. He wiped the wet corners of his eyes and held me. “I love you so much. I’m sorry. You are my family Vinita. Don’t leave me, please.” I cried and left a pool of tears on his shoulder. A soldier on the far side of the road ahead yelled out his name. “I must go.” He murmured, letting me loose. “But when will I be with-” “I shall write one more letter then after-” The soldier impatiently screamed his name louder. Simeon kissed my forehead twice and fled down the path. I cursed everything as I ran back to my dorm. Not even a birthday gift. A week passed since that dreadful news and I got an unexpected letter in the mail. It was not from Simeon but his soon-to-be bride, Annabelle. When Sister Roberta handed me the envelope I flung it across the room. “Vinita. Pick that up this instant.” She upbraided me softly. I did as I was told and let the thing plummet over my other scattered letters on my desk. “Child, couldn’t you be more perceptive for Simeon and this Annabelle?” “Why should I?” I already vented the very contents of my heart to Sister Roberta and this is what I get in return? A lecture. “Vinita, you were so young. I know it was a heartbreaking disappointment. But that doesn’t mean your relationship with him is over.” I felt that our entire connection was blasted into hell. I don’t want to believe Simeon loves me. I don’t even know what sort of love is left for me? “It’s done.” I said blankly. “No. He is a good man and I trust his word. You are going to have such a promising future with him. If I believe that – you should too.” Sister left my room. Once I was certain that she had left the dorms I quickly tore the envelope open and began to read. Dear Vinita, It seems that I have known you for years. Most of Simeon conversations usually end up focusing on you, Vinita. He says you’ are a clever, bright girl like no other. I’m sure you and I both know very well how little he smiles. His comrades have given him all sorts of nicknames like “Mood-killer” or “Grumpy” but he is mostly known as the man who never smiles. I have tried countless times to conjure up some sort of visible happiness, but I fail. One day he finally decided to attend church with me. It was not to long after visiting you. He always told there couldn’t be a God, a loving one anyway that cared. As we sang “Amazing Grace”, I felt him tremble and looked at him to see his eyes all watery. I set my hymn book down and held him there. He didn’t come up to the altar nor did anything else until church was over. After church he worked extra hard on your birthday gift. He hasn’t been able to finish it on time since he is busy with his demanding duties. You are going to love the gift he has made. You are also going to love the cottage we are going to live in. There is a room for each of us (and the upcoming baby) – but you can choose whichever room you like. I’m six months along with child. Before I close this letter I want to say just between you and me that Simeon only smiles when he speaks of you. I can’t wait to meet you – I’ve always wanted a close female companion to live with me in the household. I grew up with nothing but men! Again I cannot wait to see you beautiful Vinita. Hopefully we can get our Simeon to show us a grin one day. Love, Annabelle Luna Hamilton I liked her name. It sounded lovely. Simeon did have a birthday gift for me after all. I took in a deep breath and carefully set the letter on top of the stack next to my lamp. I thought about what Sister Roberta said, then thought about Simeon and Annabelle’s words. I began a letter of my own to her – but became drowsy and left it unfinished. I was too young. And there are so many changes in not only my world, but in others. There are so many things that I want to do. I want to fulfill my dreams and explore this earth. I want love and acceptance…and a family. That night I went to bed without any sour bitterness or hate. I let my mind cool. I let the night rock me to sleep. “Vinita…Vinita.” A panicked voice awakened me. I rubbed my sore eyes to see Sister Roberta and the headmistress standing next to my bed. “What is wrong?” Sister opened her mouth to speak, but Ms. Eichmann spoke instead. “I’m sorry to inform you of this Vinita, but you will not be leaving our school grounds so soon.” “Why not?” I replied back sternly as her cruel voice. “Simeon is to rescue me from this filthy dump.” Her eyes hardened but a strange gesture of her frown was different from her usual expression. Sister Roberta pursed her lips together and looked to Ms.Eichmann, pleading for privacy. She strolled out the door and shut the door quietly. “Vinita.” Sister whispered kindly. “There was a bomb on the road that leads to our school. Many people died yesterday afternoon on their way to the city…” She paused, trying to see if I caught on - but I didn’t. “And what? Are we to evacuate?” “Vinita, we have to stay here to be safe. Simeon and Annabelle are not coming for you.” Tears quivered over my eyelids. Has he broken another promise? “Why?” Sister broke into a hiccup of sobs. “They’ve passed away.” She whispered as our tears splashed on my lap. “I’m so sorry, Vinita.” I wonder if one day God will show us something much deeper than words to express ourselves. I cannot begin to reveal the dying heart of sorrow. My dreams, my hopes, my future is gone. There is nothing left for me. Nothing. For the first week of that summer I sat in my room alone. I did not eat. I could hardly fall asleep. I stared at the bounded stack of his envelopes and the letter from Annabelle until I passed out over my desk. I wanted to die along with them. I wanted to be blasted into smithereens and have my blood plastered all over the rubble paved road. I wanted to die with my happiness and joy. Sister Roberta checked in on me every night – offering me food, reading me passages from the bible before leaving me with a warm hug. How will I live now? What will I do? On Sunday I changed into my clean uniform, brushed my hair and teeth, and came down to breakfast. All the girls gave me odd looks as I took my seat at the far end of the table. I’m not sure if it was sympathy or contempt, but I gave a friendly smile and said good morning to them all. It was as if I suddenly did not recall the news of the tragedy. I discovered this after finishing my breakfast and broke down bawling in my chair. The Sisters guided me back to my room and left me alone. I now stared at the unfinished letter to Annabelle. That’s when Sister Roberta gave me the late package from Simeon. The last of his words are there…in this box. I don’t even remember opening it. All its contents spills out and float across my desk. A yellow envelope and a wrapped gift. I open the envelope first, feeling the raining tears splashing on the desk; I grit my teeth and rub them away as if they were dirt. I read but I can’t stop crying and moaning. Dear Vinita, After I am finally discharged we are coming to get you. I know that we all will be happy together. I am not very good with expressing myself in words but I must tell you something just between you and me – and nobody else. I grew up with in a very wealthy family in Paris, though we were originally from Great Britain. I attended the best private schools with my younger sister, Clare, and prepared for an occupation as a banker - like my father. My future was completely destroyed when I found my sister murdered near the bank of our backyard pond. I was supposed to watch after her that night- but instead chose to drink in a pub down the street with my older cousins in celebration of my birthday. She was fifteen and I was seventeen. I was responsible for everything. I couldn’t bear to face my family or friends. I felt so much shame and fear that I ran away to the village where I met you. It has haunted me ever since. I blamed God for my actions and refused to have anything to do with him. In fact I believed he didn’t exist at all – until you came into my life. I never felt so much love showered upon me. I could see God’s love shining through your smile. That is why I have been so cold about it whenever you brought it up. I have been hated by many people, so I never really cared for love. You were an angel. My redemption - but I failed to even do what was right. I didn’t straighten out my life. I hoped the best would come for you when I decided to let you attend Rosetta academy. But I’ve broken your heart again, right? I know I promised you so much, but I need you to understand that though I love you with all my soul and being I cannot see myself being your own. You are too innocent and too young for me to ruin. But I can truthfully say that I cannot see myself continuing to live without you. I love Annabelle and our soon to be child, but most of all, I love you. Find it in your heart to forgive my sins as God has done. I will never forgive myself for forgetting my angel. Happy birthday, dearest. Love, Simeon Hamilton I grab my present and shred the pink paper apart. In my hand… Is the most beautiful sculpture I have ever seen. An angel. Her hands and eyes are closed in thoughtful prayer. Her gown spreads out beneath her small legs. Her hair is wavy and is fanned out over her arched wings. I hold it to my chest and cry out a painful gasp. I forgive him. I forgive him because he knows what he’s done. He is in God’s hand now. I forgive myself. I forgive myself for not understanding him at all. I place the angel on top of his letter and neatly fold my unfinished letter to Annabelle. I am going to fulfill my dream without him. I will go to America, live in North Carolina, and become a friendly librarian in a small country town. And I will forget. I will forget that I was his forgotten angel.