1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Contest Winner! Congratulations @Thomas Kitchen for "Thrice I Will Die" - Contest #152

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Apr 29, 2014.

    Congratulations @Thomas Kitchen for your excellent story. Both entries were good but yours was voted the best by a wide margin.

    Thanks again to the other author, Madman, and all the forum members that voted.


    Thrice I Will Die [1280 words)]

    Robert lay on the hospital bed, pale and sticky. Nina wiped his brow with a cool damp cloth.

    “Ah, that’s better,” he said, smiling at his wife. His lips had no colour anymore.

    “I remember when your lips were as scarlet as strawberries,” she replied, as if thinking aloud. “And I remember the day you first kissed me with them.”

    “That was a while ago.”

    “I still remember it.”

    In and out came the nurses, with their smart uniform and busy feet. Nina glanced at them, wondering how much they could really help if Robert started to pass away right now. Would they even care? Hospitals sure weren’t the same anymore, and neither were the people.

    “I know what you’re thinking,” he said to her.

    “And what’s that?”

    “You’re wondering what’ll happen when I’m gone. You’ve never had to sort out a bill or cheque in your life.”

    “Oh, how do you do that, Robert? I’ll never understand it.” Nina huffed, disguising a smile.

    “It’s all clever trickery, my girl,” he replied. “After all, it’s a simple magic trick that attracted you to me, was it not?”

    “Yes, and I still haven’t worked out how you did it,” she admitted.

    They sat in silence for a time, comforting and warm. Sometimes they looked at each other, deep into each other’s eyes. Nina would look away first; it would not be long before she would never see them again.

    “So how will I pay the bills?” she asked after a time.

    “I don’t know.”

    “How will I live without you?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “Why are you being so dreamy, Robert, so suddenly? I’m trying to tell you how difficult it’s going to be for me now that…” A film of tears rested on her eyes. “Now that you’re leaving me. I’ll have no one, Robert. At least try to understand that.”

    He said nothing for a long time. Just looked out the window towards the other drab yellow-brick buildings. His mouth was almost a grimace and his eyes leaked pain, discomfort. Worry. And then he spoke, still looking outside.

    “I’ve thought about this moment for a long time, Nina – there’s little else to do when you’re stuck in a hospital bed. You are the dearest thing I have ever had, and I hope I have been the same for you. And as I’ve seen other patients come and go on this ward, I’ve not wondered about their families so much, but for them. What must they be going through? What about those who have no one? Who visits them? Who sits with them when the nurses have done their work? Who kisses them on the forehead and strokes their hand when their life comes to an end? These are things I have wondered, and it’s not been easy.”

    He paused only to lick his lips.

    “What about those who die, Nina? Where do they go? No one knows, because no one has come back. Perhaps that’s because it’s so wonderful that no onewants to come back. Maybe it’s because they just can’t. I don’t know. But you say that you’re worried for yourself, Nina, and I completely understand that. But what about me? What happens when Iflat-line? Yes, you’ll cry when I go, and you’ll miss me the rest of your days. Only that’s not all you’ll have. You’ll have support from the kids and from your friends. You’ll still have photos of us; you’ll have memories.

    “And me? I’m sure memories do not exist after death, because with the true love I’ve seen on this earth, people would do all they can to get back here, just to see their loved ones one last time. But no one has, and so I have come to accept that death is a pool of forgetfulness. I’ll just dive into it and never get out. So that’s two deaths already: my physical death, and my emotional death.

    “But there’s a third death for me, Nina. There’s a third death. I’m supposed to look after you, because that what a husband has to do for his wife – huh, it’s what he wants to do for his wife. I’ve paid the bills for fifty-seven years, Nina. If I could do it for fifty-seven more, I would do it in a heartbeat, but it seems I don’t have enough of those left. So thrice I will die: as a person, as a partner, and as a husband. You only have to die once, honey. I will have to die three times, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it through without you. Love is the worst incurable disease. It’ll never let you go – ever. It’ll take everything you have. But it’ll do something no other disease will do: it will build you up to be a stronger person, and you’ve done that with me.” He finally turned to face her. “You’re my wonderful disease, and I wouldn’t be the same without you. Please destroy crush me with your love. I’ll never want the cure. I love you, Nina.”

    She could barely breathe.

    The nurses were a blur.

    The salty tears lingered in her mouth.

    “I love you too, Robert. I love you too.”

    *

    “Please, Robert.”

    His eyes fluttered open.

    “Please, you have to tell me. How did you do that magic trick? You can’t leave me without telling me.”

    He smiled. So weakly, with even less colour, even less of him. Robert was fading. “Ah, I thought it would come up,” he said. “So you really want to know?”

    Yes,” she urged. “My whole life.”

    He looked at her with a tiny twinkle of cheekiness. “Won’t that give away the man you love?”

    “I suppose.”

    “So I’ll ask again. Do you really want to know?”

    Her lips quivered. She could feel every hair on her body rising, tickling her clothing. He was expecting an answer.

    “No,” she said, and she hung her head. “No, it’ll be another memory to keep, won’t it?”

    “It sure will, honey.”

    Nina stood up and stepped over to him, pressing her lips against his wrinkly forehead. This was the last time. She held herself there, remembering the first time she had touched him, the rush she’d felt. His charisma, his tricks. And she had been privileged to see him grow beyond that: to love, to endure, to treasure. He’d done it all. So she had to remember this kiss – she memorised its feeling, the way his cool skin felt against her warm lips and the way it tingled its way to every inch of her body.My husband.

    Then she withdrew her lips.

    He looked at her, and she was sure every little bit of colour returned to his lips. His mouth opened to reveal a brilliant smile.

    “Well, it seems I was wrong,” he said.

    “About what?” she asked.

    “About not remembering anything after you died.”

    “What do you mean?”

    The glint in his eyes was not of his younger trickery and charm, but of his older devotion and companionship.

    “What I mean, Nina, is that kiss. That kiss was so full of love, there’s no way my soul will let it go. So no matter what’s after this, I know this kiss will be with me forever.”

    “The incurable disease will do that to you,” she said.

    “Will do what?” he asked.

    “You know. If you are kissed by the incurable disease, then you know the end is coming. We’ve had our time in the sun.”

    “Yes, Nina, but you’re forgetting one thing.”

    “And what’s that?”

    “Whenever the sun sets on one side, there will always be a glorious sunrise on the other.”
     
  2. Madman
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    Madman Active Member

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    Congratulations Thomas! It was a well deserved win, I thought your story was great!
    I like the contrast our stories provided against each other, fear vs love, love will always win!

    Now, if I want to get feedback on my writing/story, is it okay for me to change it up a bit and post it in the workshop, or how should I go about it?
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You are free to do what you wish with the story. :)
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, Ginger is correct. As long as your normal forum requirements are groovy, feel free. :) It's your story.

    Also, I shall now get to forging a medal for Mr. Kitchen. ;)

    ETA: It is done! Wear it in health and may the ladies ever blush in your presence, Sir Thomas. ;)
     
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  5. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Haha, thank you very much, @Madman! Your story was great too, and it was great having such friendly competition. :D

    A forged medal worthy of wearing, Lord @Wreybies; I thank you. Not sure about the blushing ladies, though! :p
     
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