In 2010 I wrote my first short story. It was a learning experience and I really did it as a challenge to myself to see if I could do it. Everyone liked it. So, I'm thinking that I'll update it, right? I started revamping it and right in the middle of that, I got the idea for this story. I couldn't believe it, but I was happy. The ideas for this story were coming fast and I had to get it down or lose it. Usually that's what happens with me. If I have any kind of break, say leave it over night, I seem to lose something. It isn't the same. Basically, I stayed up late into the early morning finishing it, then the next day I made changes where they were needed and this is the result. I hope you guys enjoy it!
She couldn’t sleep. With a sigh, she gave up even trying. Beside her, her husband Brett snored softly. He was tired and it showed on his face. He worked so hard, but he wouldn’t be Brett if he didn’t. There wasn’t a lazy bone in her Scotsman’s body. Their construction business had finally taken off a few years ago. The thing about the man was he didn’t know how to delegate, even when he had properly trained personnel around him. Placing a soft kiss on his reddish blond head, she got out of bed as quietly as she could so as not to wake him.
Tonight she’d celebrated her thirty fourth birthday. The party had been so much fun. It had really been a surprise. Brett was notorious for pulling surprises on her. She laughed softly. He was good at it too and he’d really been able to pull the whole thing off without alerting her about any of it. Even the kids had managed to keep it quiet. Looking down at her hand, the beautiful marquis diamond winked back at her.
When they’d first married, they’d exchanged wedding bands. It was all he could afford. He’d always wanted to give her a diamond, no matter how she said she loved her band. Tonight she’d gotten it. It was exquisite. Everyone at the party thought so too. Getting up, she walked over to the window and looked out into the darkness that was broken only by the big yellow moon illuminating the beach. It was so beautiful.
It wasn’t very late, so she decided to take a little stroll. She wouldn’t go far. Maybe it would help her to sleep. She really didn’t know why she was so restless. The kids had kept her running all day. As soon as she solved something for one, the other had a problem. They had two kids. A boy named Cameron, whom they called “Cam” was seven going on sixteen and a girl named Bethany who was ten, but who thought she knew everything because she was the oldest. Lord, she didn’t know what she was going to do with them. She shook her head smiling. Putting on her robe and securing the belt, she slipped her feet into her flip flops, opened the bedroom door and closed it soundlessly. She walked downstairs, disengaged the alarm system on the wall, opened the front door, closed it and re-engaged it.
As she started walking, a nice little breeze started to blow. It was Summer and the heat in Texas could be oppressive, but tonight it was nice and cool near the water. They’d decided to come down to the house on Galveston Beach for part of the Summer. The kids were having a great time and she was as well. Her husband was only down here for the weekend. He had to get back for Monday. A very important project was underway and needed his attention. She wished he’d take at least a week off. He needed it. Right, then she decided that she and the kids were going to have to gang up on him if he didn’t come around soon. A little more “me time” was definitely needed for him.
With her mind on nothing in particular, she began walking. All of a sudden she stopped and looked behind her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Looking around she didn’t see anyone. Shaking off the odd feeling, she started walking again. She hadn’t gone very far when she stopped and looked around again. There was someone standing off in the distance. He just stood there and didn’t move.
Fear took a hold of her. Her hazel eyes grew big in her beautiful brown skinned face. Dear God! Brett and the kids were in the house. She had to get back to them. What if this man intended to rob them … or worse? She wondered if he’d saw her? Backing up, she kept her eyes on him as best she could. Her heart was beating so fast, it seemed like it was going to fly right out of her chest. As she was moving, she noticed that he was as well. In fact, the closer she got to the house, the closer he seemed to get to her. She was almost up the steps when a voice called her name.
“Claire.” She was shaking, completely rooted to the spot where she stood, but something bade her to turn around. His face was now in the light and she could see him clearly. She gasped and promptly fainted.
Lifting her easily the man opened her door without entering the alarm code. Taking her to the couch, he gently lay her down and brushed the debris from her cheek. For a moment he was back in time when they were newly engaged. They were so happy. Quickly quelling those memories, he headed into the bathroom, wet a towel and returned. Sitting down next to her, he wiped her face and chafed her hands trying to bring her around.
Slowly, Claire’s eyes opened. Looking around she realized she was inside her house. How? Then she slowly looked up at the man whose face was in shadow. When she’d saw him outside, she realized who he looked like. That’s why she’d fainted. He must be a fake. He couldn’t be real. Alec was … he was … he was … dead. She still found it hard to say or even think. Never again would she see him this side of Heaven. Tears streamed down her face and she swiped them away angrily. Whoever he was, this wasn’t funny.
“How did you get in my house?” Her bravery and her anger took center stage then. She forgot all about being frightened. Quickly getting up from the couch, she stood behind it giving herself some protection from him. He was sitting in one of the chairs across from it. Eyeing the stairs, she was going to try and get to Brett before he could stop her.
“You’ll never make it Claire. I can be there before you’ve even blinked your eyes.” He said this without boasting as if it was an ordinary thing he did all the time. Standing up, he came further into the light. Claire gasped and backed up, almost turning over one of the lamps. She shook her head as if to clear it. Her facial muscles drew into a frown of disbelief.
“Who are you? How do you know my name?”
“I’m Alec. Your Alec. Your first love. You know who I am if you’d just let your mind believe what your eyes see.”
At this declaration she became angry. “Don’t you dare say such a thing. Don’t you speak of him. You didn’t know him.”
“I realize I’ve scared you and I didn’t mean to, but it’s way past time for you to let me go. You now love another. We had our time together. Our destinies were different. Part of you still loves me, but you can’t really get on with your life like you should unless you put the memory of me where it should be. In the past.” She stared at him in utter shock.
“Tonight you celebrated your thirty fourth birthday. Remember the last one we had together was before the accident. It was your twenty first. The one when we became engaged. We were just kids really. Legal by the State of Texas, but really still just kids. That night our lives were changed forever. I died that night. It was instant. I didn’t feel any pain. You were hurt badly. The scar on your right arm is a reminder of that.
“Alec?” Oh, dear God in Heaven it couldn’t be. He nodded. “Al-Al-Alec is … is … dead.” It was true. He was killed by a drunk driver on what was supposed to have been one of the happiest nights of their lives. Instead it became nothing but a blur of pain. And although, she’d gotten on with her life, she could never let him go completely. She could never think of him with any happy thoughts, although there were many. He was such a good person and didn’t deserve to lose his life like that. No one did. He was so full of life and energy and love. He should have still been here and able to enjoy all of that … with her.
“I’m trapped here Claire. I’ve watched you fall in love, get married and have children. It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. You see, although I’m still twenty five years old, being in this suspended state between one world and the next has taught me a lot. I don’t belong here anymore and I’ve no right to any feelings toward you either.
“In a small place in your heart you carry regret that I didn’t get to live my life like you have. You’re not to blame. It wasn’t meant to be. We can’t change our destinies. You need to let me go my sweet Claire. That’s why I’m here.”
“Oh, Alec.” Every time she thought of him, it was always the memory of that fateful night. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t get it out of her head. When they’d got both of them out of the wreckage, Alec was gone and she was still alive. The guilt of still being alive was overwhelming and the grief wouldn’t leave her. At the time it seemed her grieving was the only thing that kept her sane. Inside that grief, she was protected from dealing with life. In the end, she’d had to seek professional help. Even after all of that, a small part of her still held onto him … just couldn’t let go. The therapy did help some and she was able to go back to college.
That’s where she met Brett through a mutual friend. He was attracted to her from the first, but she was still in love with Alec. There was nothing but friendship on her part. Brett, however had other ideas and never gave up. He slowly drew her out of her self imposed torture and even though she grew to love him and was now in love with him, the guilt she felt over Alec never really left her.
It had been two years since Alec’s death when Brett had proposed and she accepted. Brett had graduated two years before her and started his own construction business. At the time, when they married, she was still in school and working part time in an office. The plan had been for Claire to work in the business with him, but it was still new and contracts weren’t coming in quite as anticipated.
Later on she was hired on full time, which turned out to be a blessing because she soon learned she was pregnant with Bethany. Claire thought she’d lose her job because of the terrible morning sickness that lasted all day in the beginning, but it eventually abated and she was able to work up until a week before delivering. It took five years to grow the construction business and gain the reputation that it now enjoyed. Brett had it going in a good direction, even though the economy was still recovering. Three years after Bethany, Cam arrived. Now married twelve years, they were very happy and life was good.
“Life is only going to get better for you and your family Claire.” Alec interrupted her thoughts. “There’s a new person who’ll be arriving in nine months time.” Claire’s gaze shot to his.
“How do you know about that? I just found out yesterday myself and I’m going to surprise Brett and the kids with the news this morning.” Reflexively she put her hand to her still flat stomach.
“You have a wonderful husband and children and now God is going to bless you with another one. I don’t belong in your heart and head anymore. Let me go. I need my rest and peace and only by your release can I gain it.
“Oh, Alec, please don’t ask me to do that. I can’t. You’re a part of me. I don‘t want to lose you.” He smiled.
“You’ll never lose me. You just need to treat me as a part of your past and not your everyday life. You should cherish those memories, but only pull them out ever so often. No matter how you’d like to change the past, it can’t be done.” Pulling her into his arms, he gave her a big hug. She looked up into his handsome face and into his beautiful eyes. Touching a kiss from her lips, she pressed it gently against his brown cheek lovingly.
“I’ll miss you.” At her touch he started fading away. He smiled at her and mouthed the words “thank you.” Before she knew it, he was gone. Looking around she didn’t see him anywhere, but noticed something like a sheet of paper floating to the carpeted floor before her.
It read “You’re going to love Heaven Claire. It’s more beautiful than anything you’ve ever imagined. Love Alec.”
Smiling, Claire, turned off the lights, reactivated the alarm and headed upstairs. Pulling off her robe and flip flops, she got into bed. Brett gravitated toward her and spooned against her back in his sleep. Snuggling down and getting comfortable, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. It had been one of the best birthday’s ever.
“I want cereal Mama.” This from Bethany sounding so grown up. Her riotous red curls were everywhere over her head. Claire reached into one of the kitchen drawers where she kept miscellaneous things and brought out a scrunchie.
“Come here baby.” Bethany came and sat obediently in her mother’s lap as she gathered her hair into some semblance of order. “There, that’s better.”
“Morning Daddy,” She ran and hugged her father as he entered the kitchen. Usually when they came to the beach house, they ate in the cozy kitchen at the small table where they all were now.
“Morning carrot top.” Brett Kennedy kissed his daughter and his wife and high fived his son Cam who was sitting at the table eating pancakes and bacon. According to him, he was too big for a kiss, even though his mother kissed him anyway.
“Those smell good. I could eat about five of them along with a side of bacon.” Claire smiled, got up, washed her hands and started making more pancakes and bacon for him and her. Bethany had gotten her own cereal and had taken a seat next to her brother. After fixing their plates, she carried them to the table and sat down. She was surprised that there hadn’t been any morning sickness yet. So far none, but she was starving.
The kids both began talking at once. Brett had grabbed the paper and was reading the sports section.
“How would you guys feel about a little sister or brother around February? They were talking non-stop when all of a sudden all conversation ceased.
“You’re having a baby Mama?” Claire nodded. “Kayla’s mom is having one too. I want a sister. We can play dolls.”
“It’s going to be a boy." Cam said emphatically. "We’ll play trucks and climb trees and build things with Daddy.” After Cam had made his declaration, he and his sister got into a little back and forth sparing about the new addition.
“Claire, honey. Are you sure?” Claire smiled and confirmed it. Brett got up and came around to her side of the table and hugged her gently. “I’m just so surprised. I mean we’ve been trying for awhile.”
“I know and it’s finally happened. We said we wanted four, so number three is on the way. I wonder what color her hair will be?” Claire said offhandedly looking at him.
“Probably dark like Cam’s, but it maybe a boy.” Claire looked at him and smiled.
“I have a feeling it's a she and she’ll have some type of blond hair coloring. Look at you Daddy. Reddish blond hair and a red beard.” She tugged on it playfully and laughed.
“Ouch! That’s attached.” He smiled rubbing his face. “We’ve got to celebrate.” Brett thought for a minute. “I know. I’ll take the entire week off. Chris can handle things.” Claire and the kids all screamed joyously at the same time. They’d gotten their wish without even asking.
On February 17, 2009, Claire Kennedy delivered an 8 pound 13 ounce baby girl to the joy of her ecstatic family. The fine baby down on her head proclaimed it to be reddish blonde. They named her Caitlin Alexandra in honor and memory of her uncle Alec.
Written by Rosebud-©06/01/2013