Tag Archives: Romance

The hero of prophecy

“It has been almost a decade of training for you my young apprentice. You were brought to this farm as a small child, so little you do not even remember your parents. I have taught you the use of the bow, the sword, your hands, and even a little magic. You have learned speech-craft and the artistry of words so that you can employ them to sway your fellow man and inspire him to deeds of incalculable heroism. Now is the time to depart. Go now, and seek your destiny.”

With a bow, and a full kit of combat and wilderness survival gear, the hero departed, entering the woods surrounding the farm. It was his time, the hour of fate, now he was to go forth and… hang, on were those wolves? Yep, those were certainly wolves. Like, a lot of wolves, and rapidly approaching.

Our hero drew his sword, readied his shield, mentally rehearsed the incantation for a fireball, and braced himself for the drawing of his first blood.

He had a bit of a start when a girl, a girl about his age, burst through the underbrush.

“Oh thank goodness.” She said, tears in her eyes, as she caught site of our hero. “They’ve got my scent and I’m unarmed, please will you help me?”

Our hero knew what to do. He produced a pair of knives from his pack and placed them in the girl’s hands.

“I’ve got you covered, stay behind me, keep your back against mine, and yell if you’re about to be overwhelmed. I’ve got this covered.” Without another word he placed himself in front of her, and with renewed purpose stepped in front of the maiden to use himself as human shield against the tide of teeth and claws.

No sooner had he done so then a score of wolves lunged from the surrounding bushes, and quickly encircled our hero. Good, he should be able to pick a few off with fireballs this way. He twirled his sword hand and began reciting the spell accurately. Midway through the incantation he felt the girl begin to shake at his back. He paused his spell to comfort her.

“Hey, I’ve been trained for way worse than this. You’ll see. A little fire and these guys are going to turn tail and run.” Having said this, another man, on horseback burst through the brush and began calling down lightning to fell the wolves. In less than three heartbeats half of the beasts were put down, and the rest were running for the woods.

The horsemen turned to our surprised hero and called out. “Huzzah! And well met my good man, come, help me give chase to the vile things. There is a farm a mile hence which they are no doubt making for with all speed. Quickly now! While the scent is fresh.” Our hero looked at the man, then at the spot where the wolves departed. This is what he trained for, chasing wolves, defending the helpless, but shouldn’t he be better than this guy? He had almost half a minute, and hadn’t killed any wolves, this guy had killed most of them in just a few seconds.

Still, he might learn from him. Who said his training was done. He could follow this man and fulfill his destiny.

Then he felt the girl quivering with his back to him, and he knew what to do.

“Sorry mate, you have a good run at those wolves. I’m going to stay here and make sure she’s alright.” The horsemen nodded, understanding.

“Suit yourself. Good travel to you strangers.” And with that, his horse dove into the woods. Our hero dropped his sword and shield, turned towards the girl who was still staring at the ground as if she expected a wolf to take shape and leap from the earth. He wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her in.

“It’s going to be alright. I won’t let anything happen to you. It’s going to be alright.”

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Perchance to fix a quick mistake

“Perchance to fix a quick mistake, or pass over a terrifying moment of fate. To choose only one is your assigned task. Either jump to the future, or relive the past.”

It was a mysterious sounding rhyme, and I wasn’t sure I should take it seriously or not. I was combing through my attic when I had found the watch with the cryptic inscription. There was a note attached to it explaining the rhyme.

DO NOT TOUCH THE WATCH UNTIL YOU’VE FINISHED READING THIS NOTE! On the side of the watch is a dial. You can turn it clockwise until it clicks to set it to jumping forward in time, or you can click it once counterclockwise to set it to jumping backward in time. Be warned, once you set the watch, it will stay on that setting until you die. The period it jumps you either forward or backward is ten seconds. The watch needs about a minute to recharge between jumps. To activate, just tap the dial. Choose wisely.

Huh, clicking it backwards would allow me to fix some small mistakes in life, but clicking it forwards would allow me to skip the truly harrowing moments. I heard someone say that many great things are accomplished with just 15 seconds of pure courage. With this I watch I could have at least ten of those seconds. I could be infinitely brave for those ten seconds. I could live with making mistakes. Now I could skip all of the truly scary moments in life! I click the watch clockwise, and test it out. I throw a little ball in the air and tap the dial

It works. I have a small bruise on my head, and the ball has rolled to the other side of the attic. I didn’t feel the impact at all. The residual pain yes, but not the impact. This is going to be so useful for my date tonight!

Three hours later me and Jenna are sitting on a park bench. The sun is setting, my arm is around her, and the mood is right. The only problem is I’m as nervous as a moose at an NRA convention. Thankfully I’ve got the cure to my nervousness on my wrist. I tap her on the shoulder to turn towards me. As she looks me in the eye I tap the nob.

“You know I see you more as a friend.” She says.

Christopher Robin introduces his fiance to Pooh and Piglet

Chapter 22: In which another Christopher Robin comes to the forest, and we….

“You know it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding Christopher.” Diane teased me.

“It only counts if it’s after midnight, now come on. We’re meeting them at this bridge.” Christopher Robin and Diane Silvereye arrived at the wooden bridge which crossed the lazy river, and lifted her onto the highest wooden railing.

“Who are we meeting?” Diane asked.

“You’ll see in just a moment. They probably stopped by to see some other friends on the way over. You might meet them later.” Christopher Robin leaned over the edge of the bridge and looked down at sticks passing under the bridge.

“It seems odd to be meeting them now.” Janet commented. “Do you not bring these friends round much?”

“Well, I bring them around to certain people, but not everyone understands about friends like this. So it’s only the right people who get to meet them.” Christopher said.

“And you had to be sure that I was the right person that you waited until the day before our wedding?” Diane asked.

“Yes. It’s rather important.” Christopher said.

“I’ll be on my best behavior.” Diane assured him, giving him a peck on the cheek. Encouraged by this Christopher walked over to the edge of the bridge. He picked up a toy bear stuffed with sawdust, and a smaller pig-like doll that seemed to be made in a similar manner. He set them down on the bridge next to each other, and walked back to stand next to Diane.

Diane was confused. The dolls looked familiar, but they were so old she couldn’t tell what they were supposed to be. Christopher looked nervous as he walked back, like he wasn’t sure if the bridge might fall out from under him at any moment. She hadn’t seem him like this since the first date. He hadn’t even looked like this when he had asked her to marry him.

Christopher turned to face the two dolls, and tried his best to smile and wave.

“Hello Pooh, hello Piglet. Nice day for a game of pooh sticks isn’t it?” Oh, they were a Winnie the Pooh doll, and a Piglet doll. It couldn’t be. Could it? They had always joked about his name being the same one from the book, and the dolls did look old enough.

Christopher Robin adopted first a low rumbly voice. He was starting to sweat. “Hello Christopher Robin, it is a lovely day. The creek is in a friendly sort of mood. Just the right sort of mood for pooh sticks.” Christopher now switched to a hi squeaky voice. “Yes Christopher robin, a most lovely sort of day indeed. We met owl on the way over and he was just telling us what a grand day for pooh sticks.”

Christopher glanced nervously at Diane, and she looked first from him, and then to the dolls. It was her turn to speak. She kicked her legs nervously against the bridge and waved back to them. Unsure how to proceed.

“Hello Pooh and Piglet.”

“Hello Diane.” Christopher robin responded in a low squeaky voice. Well, mostly low and squeaky. His voice cracked at the beginning of the word Diane. It had been a while since Christopher and Diane had a awkward moment

Then a breeze passed through. It was not a strong breeze. Diane barely felt it, but it was just enough to pick up the ears on the two animals and make them twitch around a bit. Then, suddenly, Diane understood what to do.

She hopped off the bridge smiling, and went over to shake the hand of the Pooh doll.

“Oh I’m sorry for being awkward Pooh. It’s been a frightfully exciting day. Can you tell me what’s all this about Pooh sticks?” She heard Christopher Robin take a breath behind her to respond, but she didn’t let him. In her best rumbly voice Diane responded.

“Oh you’ll love it Diane. Me and Christopher Robin play all the time. Eyeore’s the best, but I invented it right on this very bridge.”

“Did you now Pooh?” Diane asked Pooh in her regular voice.

“Oh yes Diane. It was on a day like this that I was wondering about carrying some fir cones. Here there are just a few over there.” Diane then picked up the doll and went over to grab a few fir cones and put them in the dolls hands.

“And I stumbled and watched them splash into the stream. I was sad because they were such nice fir cones. Then, then what happened next Piglet? I’ve got a bit of fluff in my brain just now.”

Christopher piped up in his squeaky voice.

“Then we played Pooh sticks Pooh. Here, let’s show Diane how to play.” Piglet then dashed off into the woods to grab some fir cones to show Christopher Robin’s new friend.

Pooh and Piglet then stood by the side of the bridge and counted to three before dropping the fir cones in. They explained to Diane that sticks worked better, but fir cones would do just fine for now.

Diane cheered eagerly as Piglet’s cone came out first. Piglet was a small sort of animal that didn’t get to win many games, so it was good that he had this little game to himself. All four of them then went about collecting sticks and throwing them into the creek to see whose would come out first.

They played many games until the sun started to sink, and Piglet had to go pick some haycorns for dinner.

“Pooh, would you come with me and Diane for a moment?” Christopher asked Pooh.

“Of course.” Pooh told Christopher Robin. The three of them then walked to the enchanted spot at the top of the forest where you could never tell if there were 67 pine trees or 68. They sat down in a familiar space, and looked out at the trees as the sun set.

“Pooh you remember the last time we sat here?” Christopher Robin asked.

“Yes Christopher Robin. I told you that if you lived to be 100. I wanted to live to be 100 minus 1 day so that I would never have to live a day without you.”

“Well now Pooh.” Christopher Robin said. “Now you’re going to have to live be to 100 minus 2, because Diane is going to live to be 100, and I can’t live a day without her.”

Bless me father for I have sinned

“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession, and I shall confess to the sins of lying once, anger against my coworkers, pride, and jealousy. I am sorry for these and all my sins.”

I was always happy to hear Angelica’s confessions. She was concise, direct, and I got the sense that she always made a thorough examination of conscious.

“Thank god for the gift of an honest confession.” I told her. “I advise you to examine your sins, and to select one to work on the most. Say three Hail Mary’s, and you may now make an act of contrition.”

“My god, I am heartily sorry for all my sins. In choosing to do wrong and in failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend with your help to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, in his name, my god, have mercy, amen.” Angelica was well named. The humility in her voice was angelic. Hearing each and every syllable brought me joy, as if I was hearing them directly from an angel. I gladly grant her an absolution.

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Go in peace my child.”

“Thank you father.” She says, and departs.

“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession.” Angelica says. Even though there is a screen between us I can tell it’s her. I could pick her voice out of a crowd even if there were a hundred voices all chanting the same thing.

I listen to her confession, she is brief and to the point as ever, and it heartens me to hear a confession such as hers. As I give her a variation on my usual advice I reflect that it would be good to spend time with someone as devout as she.

I assign her a penance, and she begins the act of contrition. As she outpours her sorrow there is a telltale flicker in my chest. It’s just a flicker, but I was not always a priest, and recognize that flicker.

I am suddenly glad for the screen between us as my eyes are no doubt widening in shock. I try and dismiss it. She finishes her act of contrition, and I begin my absolution. I focus on the words, using the repetition to block out thought and emotion.

“Thank you father.” She says. I do not feel particularly fatherly at the moment.

“Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been one month since my last confession.” It’s her again. As soon as I hear her voice the flicker comes back. Only it has progressed to a solid thumping in my chest. As she lists her sins I perceive each one as a reason for my affection for her to increase.

I stumble through my brief words of advice to her. I hardly heard what she said to me, so I hope it’s still relevant. As she begins her act of contrition I mourn that holy orders do not remove such emotions from me. I can feel myself falling ever farther for her.

Then I begin my act of contrition. I am reminded that as a priest I speak for another man. A man who experienced great suffering. I am reminded that the current emotion is but another burden to carry. The knowledge does not less the emotion. Indeed I find myself feeling an even greater attraction to her, but I am reminded that duty comes first.

I even begin to feel ashamed for reacting so strongly to this emotion. Do not husbands still feel for other women after marriage? Do employers not occasionally feel attraction for their employees. Unwanted infatuation is nothing special. I’m not some hormone driven teenager. I’m an adult, and I can control myself.

Edit: to any who are wondering, this is how confessions go down in real life. Minus the love bit.

Ye olde prison letter

A letter to my beloved in an 18th century debtor’s prison.

“Dearest Rebecca, it has been overlong since last I was blessed with the gift of your society and have felt the loss most keenly. Seven months you have now resided in that dreary environment, and seven months have I toiled away in the coal mines to support your family.

It shall gladden you to know that at the time of this letters creation I am in good health, as is your family. They have reconciled themselves to the loss of their father and their subsequent loss of you.

Alas, this state of matters cannot last. My funds are rapidly becoming exhausted. Without your aid I cannot possibly continue to provide bread to satisfy so many mouths. We need you dearest. We need you now.

I have wrote you before about my friend Alfred yes? He is a chemist at the local university who has on occasion visited my mine to collect certain elements for his experiments. This gentlemen has been a balm to the wounds of my soul as of late, and I owe him a great debt. Well now you shall share in my debt dearest, because he has hatched a plan.

Our comrade Alfred has concocted a certain way of mixing a certain kind of oil with acids to produce a most remarkable substance he calls trinitrotoluene. He believes this substance may be of use to us in our current sorry state of affairs. I cannot write more to you dearest concerning this matter in case this letter falls into the wrong hands. All I can say is that on the morrow, before the third crow of the rooster, you should lay beneath your bed with you head facing the door, and both of your hands should be employed to cover your head.”

Serial killer rom com

“Two Bloody Mary’s please.” I tell the waitress.

“Don’t you normally get those after you finish drinking?” My date, Ellen, asked.

“Sorry, old habit, I like the name.” I explain. Ellen looks at me like I’ve got something stuck in my teeth.

“Are you a fan of really old nursery rhymes?” She asks, trying to find a reason why I would like such a violent name.

“Well, kind of, I like the urban myth, you know the one right?”

“Sure, the thing with the mirror that prepubescent kids do at sleepovers. Were you a big fan of that?” She had downgraded from seeing something stuck in my teeth, to maybe catching a whiff of bad breath.

“I just sympathized with Bloody Mary a lot.” I bite my tongue as soon as the words are out. That’s something only a crazy person would say. Now I would have to be on damage control for the rest of this date just to keep her from walking out. A second date was entirely out of the question at this point.

“Because she can’t control it.” Ellen says. Her look of revulsion is gone. Now she looks like she’s just finished a puzzle that she’s been working on.

“I know right? It’s like, what if she doesn’t want to appear and do horrible things to people.” I say.

“Maybe she would rather just rest peacefully by herself somewhere instead of being constantly forced to do bad things against her will.” Ellen continues my thought.

“She’s clearly got a cusre on her, has anyone ever thought of doing something to help her. Call a priest to exercise a mirror or something.” I say.

“Nope, they just tell whispers about her everywhere and keep forcing her to do things she doesn’t want to do.” Ellen finishes. It’s so refreshing to hear someone who feels the same way I do.

“How do you feel about horror movies?” I ask.

Letters to my father part 6

She’s wonderful. You couldn’t ask for a better girl dad. Her hair is long and flowing. It’s the color of chocolate. Her eyes are the color of the sky on a clear summer’s day. She’s elegant, funny, smart, and beautiful. Her voice could charm the birds from the trees, and her smile could tame a wild bear. She’s perfect, and perfect for you. You are going to marry a princess dad.”

                It’s over. It’s finally over. I’ve done it. Now I get to meet her. I get to meet a girl and instantly now it’s mean to be. No stressing over tiny faults that you don’t know if you can live with. No doubting how she feels. This is for real, and this is happening.

I don’t really need to tell you what to do. You could sweep her off her feet all on your own. So I’ll just as you have needed to learn to man up and become strong enough for her. She’s needed to learn to let go. Help her let go dad.” Cryptic, as usual for my daughter, but I kind of preferred it that way. I wanted to figure this out partly on my own, and I could craft a date for her that she would never forget.

“Now for the goods. You’ve done your job dad. You’ve come to the end of the journey, and now it’s time to reap the rewards. There’s a bridge in the regional park that crosses a large stream. She will be there at 1:00 tomorrow. Sweep her off her feet dad. You have a golden opportunity. You know for certain this this woman is going to be your wife. Use that knowledge, don’t hold back. Make this moment worth all the struggle.” No pressure, but that was okay. I could do this. This is what I’ve been working to achieve. I have a date, a time, and a general description. This is going to happen. It’s actually going to happen. I begin planning what I’m going to do as I continue to read.

I hate to tarnish such a happy moment, but because this is where you and your wife start, it’s time for me to step away. Our family is going to start in about thirteen hours, and I can’t be there to make it happen. That is for you to do, and it is for me to leave you to do it.” I notice there are some watermarks on the letter. This wasn’t easy for her to write.

If only you knew how many letters I’ve written you. These were the final drafts. I cannot tell you how many times I had to travel back and amend something because it turned sour later on. You know all those times it felt like I was reading your mind? I had to write the letter, send it, wait for you to read it, and then come up and ask you about it. You were so surprised whenever I talked to you. You hit your head on the attic rafters so many times when I made you jump. I have had to travel back and forth so many times for this, and now this is it, the final letter. So much time, so much energy, and now it’s all done.” She had to have dozens of instances in the letters where she had seemed to be reading my thoughts. She had to come back hundreds of times at least, and for my wife too no doubt.

I’m actually really terrible at goodbyes. I thought this one would be better because it’s not in person, but it’s not. I’m trying to think of more stuff to say just so I don’t have to stop writing. I shouldn’t though. I need to not drag this out. You’ve got to go to bed so you can be bright eyed and bushy tailed for your wife tomorrow. Okay, it’s okay. I’ll see you in three years dad. Love her like crazy. Go make a family.”

I felt like I had lost a friend. Whenever things had gotten hard she had been there for me. She had made me smile with her little games, and made me feel better when I couldn’t make myself feel better. No one had ever made me feel wanted and special like she had. Now she was gone. I didn’t know what that last letter held, but I wouldn’t know for three years. A lot could happen in three years. Maybe the letter would be a short thank you. She had written those before, or maybe some tiny little advice to set me straight with something. Maybe it would be a full letter like this one. I didn’t know, it didn’t change the way I felt.

It hits me just how much effort she has put into this. She has come back so often, and she must’ve always been watching from the shadows. She kept a careful eye on me to know just what I needed to hear, and when I needed to hear it. This was a labor of love that trumped anything else that I had experienced.

I remember the other letter in my wallet. I want to trade it out and put this one in instead, but that wouldn’t be right. This letter was meant to be a goodbye. Goodbye meant you went your own way. It wasn’t good to dwell on the past. I would keep her uplifting forward looking letter in my pocket, and put this one in the chest.

After I stow the letter I stand up and exhale. The punchline has been told. The story has had its ending, now it’s time to move on. I’ll always carry the memory of what she’s done for me.

The bridge that I’m going to meet my future on is a mile down the trail from the parking lot, and the walk gives me time to appreciate the scenery. The park is a forest that borders on a lake. The trail wraps through the woods alongside the lake, and affords a view of the sparkling water. The sun is reflecting off the water in such a way that makes it seem as if there is treasure at the bottom of the lake that is glinting in the afternoon sunlight. The water is calm, with a family or two of ducks lazily cruising across it.

The trees are splashed with autumn colors. There are deep reds, bright orangs, and dark greens throughout. Squirrels dart among the branches, some male squirrels are chasing female squirrels, subtly reminding me of why I’m here.

The path runs into the creek, and runs parallel next to it down to where it reaches the bridge. The stream isn’t deep, shallow enough to wade across. There are numerous large stones stones in it that suggest it’s possible to walk across without getting your feet way, but it would be a risky endeavor.

At last I see the bridge in the distance. It’s a plain wooden bridge that arches majestically over the running waters. On it is a lone figure, facing away from me. I can see long hair on this figure. It’s her.

I walk to the bridge reverently, as if I’m in a church. There is a tension in the air. A magic that has been building since I set foot on the path. Now it is coalescing into something special, and I dare not make any sudden move for fear of dissipating that magic.

If she hears me coming she gives no sign, and I stop at the foot of the bridge.

“Are you ready to begin forever?” I ask her.

She turns around, and I stop breathing. The sun is shining through a gap in the trees, and it lights up her face. She almost seems to glow in the golden beams, and everything Sarah said was true. Her smile could stop a wild boar’s charge, and right now she is smiling for all she’s worth.

Wordlessly, she runs to me and leaps into my arms. I catch her in an arm chair, and spin her round and round. She wraps her hands around my neck and I see that her eyes are like clear blue Caribbean water. It’s fitting, this girl seems like to be the living embodiment of the warmth and light of a Caribbean beach.

“Angelica.” I say. Her name flows off my tongue like honey.

“I’m ready.” She tells me.

“Then let’s get started princess.” I’m highly thankful for all my exercise. She’s light as a feather in my arms, and I can easily carry her most of the way back to my car.

“There’s so much I want to talk about.” She tells me.

“Let’s start with Sarah.” I suggest.

“Our daughter.” She confirms. “So you got the letters too?” She asks.

“All eighteen of them. It took me seven months to go through them.”

“Same here. I got twenty-two letters, but they took me the same time to go through.”

“It was a heck of a thing to go through that.” I say. “So many new skills to learn.

“Skills?” She asks. “Mine were mostly about dealing with old baggage. So many people who hurt me, and letting the hurt go. There was a little bit of learning, but mostly it was dealing with emotions.”

“I guess we had different issues to resolve.”

“So what kind of skills did you work on?” My future wife asks.

“A bunch of stuff, some of it suggested by her, some of it was on my own initiative.” I start to tell her what they were, then I get an evil idea. “But you’ll have to find out what those are later. We’re going to take part in some right now. Did Sarah tell you that I would help you let go?” I ask.

“Yes, she said you would help me loosen my grip on my past.” I want to borrow my daughter’s time travel so I can go back and fix whatever has scarred my wife. I had physical traits that had needed fixing, but she had emotional ones. I did not envy her for the path she had to walk these last seven months.

“Well. We are about to get a jump on that. Are you afraid of heights?” She nods. “What the dark?” She nods. “Perfect.” I say.

“That’s rather vague and not exactly comforting.” She tells me.

“Sarah taught me how to speak like that.” I respond. “Speaking, of Sarah, she also taught me how to do this whole courtship thing. On that note, I’ve got a question for you. You get three wishes, but you can’t wish for anything that you could buy or sell, and you can’t wish for anything generous. These wishes have to be about you, and for things without any monetary values.” She tilts her head back.

“That’s a tough one. What would you wish for?” She asks back.

“Oh no, you’re not getting off that easily. I don’t want to contaminate your way of thinking with my wishes. I want to know you Angelica, all of you. So tell me what you would wish for.”

“Well, that’s a little hard, because Sarah and you have already given me so much that I want. I guess I would wish to be able to help her when she time travels. Go with her and try to alleviate some the work load. She did so much for us that I would want to give some back. Is that a bad wish?” She asks.

“Not at all.” I say.

“Okay, then my second wish would be to help you during your journey. I know it wasn’t easy for you, and I want to go back and help you along in whatever way I can. Too cheesy?” She asks.

“No such thing.” I tell her.

“Good, then my last wish is that this is going to work between us. So that Sarah doesn’t have to go back in time and fix things again, and the three of us can just be together.”

“I gave you three wishes.” I say. “And you managed to wish for three things that would help others.”

“I know, that violates one of the rules you gave me.” She says.

“No, no, it’s good, because I know that’s what you want. I didn’t say that it couldn’t help others, just that it had to be about you. Sarah did a great job with your personality babe.” I tell her.

“She didn’t do so bad with you either. You carried us all the way back to my car.” She exclaims.

“I have been working out a little.” I humble brag. I put her down and open her door for her. She curtsies, and we drive off.

“Where are we going?” She asks excitedly, like a little kid trying to find out what they got for Christmas.

“Someplace I found while I was out exploring the woods.” I say.

“That’s not helpful.” She said.

“You wouldn’t want me to spoil the surprise would you? Come on this is exactly how Sarah talks to us in our letters. She can’t be here physically for this event, so I thought I’d make her a part of it spiritually.”

“That’s sweet.” Angelica says. “But that’s not how Sarah talked to me.”

“Really?” I say. “She always had this super playful attitude with me. We were always playing these mind games with each other. She would challenge me to do something and would always give me these hard deadlines and powerful hard hitting words to motivate me, with just the right mix of support to keep me going.” I wish she could be here for this. This is her great reward, and she’s not here for it. I am glad to have someone to talk to about Sarah. Marriage fixing daughters who time travel were not a common topic of conversation at the office.

“That’s not at all how Sarah talked to me.” My future wife responds. “With me they were very long very emotional letters that helped explain why things were and why they had to change. She would validate my emotions and explain why things happened the way they did, or apologized that they went badly. She was my shoulder to cry on, and her gift to me was her understanding. We slowly worked through all of my baggage and helped me to find closure with how things were in my life. She helped me to make a clean emotional slate so you could come along and fill it.”

“She’s even more amazing than I thought.” I say. “For me she was a motivational speaker and coach. For you she was a friend and a confidant. I thought she just happened to have a personality that fit well with mine, but she’s complicated and flexible enough to not only give me what I need, but what you need as well.”

“That’s our girl.” Angelica says.

“Our girl.” I echo. “That’s weird to say isn’t it?” Angelica nods.

“But she is our girl, or will be. I’m not sure what the proper grammar is for people who exist in multiple places in time simultanesouly, or actually I guess she doesn’t exist yet.”

“It’s so profoundly confusing.” I say. “Let me back up to something you said earlier. You confirmed for me that Sarah told you I would help you let go of this emotional stuff right?”

“That’s right.” Angelica says. “You would help me to move on.”

“That’s also different from me, because I’m at the end of my path. I’m done. She already told me in her letter that I’m what I need to be, but you’re not finished yet.”

“I guess she knew that somewhere deep down every princess wants to be rescued by a prince charming, so she left just enough baggage for you to rescue me from.”

“She’ got to be a psychologist or something.” I say. “We’re here, and I think you’ll find that I took our daughters advice to help you ‘let go’ a bit literally.”

I grab a couple duffle bags full of gear, and a short hike later we are on the edge of wide hole that goes down about four stories.

“You can’t really see from up here.” I tell Angelica. “But there’s a cave at this bottom of this hole. We are going to rappel down into it and then make our way through the cave.”

“I’m sorry; we’re going to do what to get down into this hole?” Angelica asks.

“Rappel.” I say. “You’re going to put on a harness, we are going to run some rope through it. I’m going to tie that rope to a tree, and then I’m going to lower you down.”

“I’m going to have to fall down into this hole.” She surmised.

“At a controller rate, but yes.” I say.

“I have a thing with heights.” She says. “I mean is there another entrance? Could we walk down. I’m really not comfortable doing this kind of thing, and like, have you done this before?”

“Yes.” I reply.

“With this specific cave?” She asks.

“You know what sweetie.” I drop the duffle bags, and tilt her chin up. I then grab both of her hands and squeeze hard enough that it’s almost uncomfortable. I maintain fierce eye contact with her and make sure my face shows the full weight of my words.

“This isn’t about you knowing exactly how safe or dangerous this is. This isn’t about how much experience I have, how good the gear is, how often people get into accidents about this. This is about me being the man you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.”

“I know, but could we just maybe start with something smaller?

“Babe, I would sooner jump off that cliff without any gear on than put you in the smallest degree of danger. Our marriage is going to be built on mutual trust. Show me that trust now. I swear on my honor as a man and your future husband that I will not let you come to any harm.”

She bite her lip and nods. As quick as I can I tie the rope to the tree, put her harness on, and clip her in. Before she can change her mind I’m walking her to the side of the cliff.

“You’re going to lean back, and put your feet flat against the wall.” I tell her. “It’ll all be over in a minute.” She’s biting her lip too hard to respond. “On the count of three.” I tell her. “One, two…” I lean close to her. “I’m not them. You’re safe with me…3” She leans back, and I catch my wife.

I hear her let out a giant breath of air, and slowly let her down to the bottom. As soon as I feel slack in the rope, signaling that she has hit bottom, I grab a duffle bag, the rope, and clip myself in, practically diving over the side to reach her in time.

She’s at the bottom of the cliff with her arms wrapped around herself. She’s shaking.

“It’s okay.” I say as I hit bottom, hastily unclipping myself to wrap her in a hug. “Thank you.” I say.

“Sarah chose her words well.” She tells me. “When you said three, and I fell, it was like I was letting go of myself and falling into you.” Her face gets angry for a moment. “Don’t mess me up.” She orders.

“Never.” I respond. “Come on, we’ve got a walk to do.” I pull out a couple helmets and headlamps, and walk her to the cave entrance.

“Now we got one more thing we’ve got to do.”

“After that fall, this shouldn’t be that bad.” Angelica tells me.

“I thought you might say that.” I say, flipping on my headlamp. Angelica flips her own headlamp on.

“That’s why you’re doing it without your light on.” I reach over and flip her headlamp off. She wants to say something. She’s biting her lip and inhales sharply, but she doesn’t say anything.

“Okay, let’s go princess.” I take her hand, and we walk into the darkness.

Caves are funny places. They’re very muddy, cold, typically damp, and of course, dark. There are many fears you cannot have if you are in a cave, claustrophobia, fear of the dark, arachnophobia, fear of snakes, you can’t be a hypochondriac, or be sensitive to getting cold or muddy, because caves are cold, dark, wet, cramped, dirty places that often have snakes, spiders, and plenty of other nasty creatures. If it has haunted children’s nightmares, there’s at least a small chance of finding it in a cave. Fun fact, Ebola came from a cave.

I know all of this, and I know Angelica is running through these horrible scenarios in her head. She’s imagining each in ever increasing detail, mixing and matching to create the maximum possible fear.

I feel none of this, and I have a way to show her what I see in a cave. I find a spot where the ceiling gets low, and we have to get on our hands and knees. Partway through this crawl space I stop and pull Angelica close. We are both curled into balls with our knees almost reaching the ceiling, or feet on one wall, and our backs on one wall.

“I’m going to turn my light off.” I tell her, and reach out to grab her other hand. “It’s going to be okay.” She’s still got her lip in her mouth, and doesn’t respond.

The light goes out, and I feel her squeeze my hands even tighter. I don’t blame her. Cave darkness is absolute. When you’re on the surface there’s usually some light coming from somewhere, even if it’s faint. With time your eyes adjust and make use of the light. In cave darkness there is no light at all. I hold my hand up to touch my nose, and I don’t see it.

It can also be very quiet. You could hear a pin drop half a football pitch away. Our breathing suddenly seems very loud now that we aren’t moving. It was in this cave that I discovered that blinking makes a very small sound. It’s quiet enough that even the electric buzzing that lightbulbs cause drowns it out, but in caves, you can hear yourself blink.

“There’s a funny thing about being underground.” I say. “Your brain is deprived of most of its primary senses. You can’t see anything at all, the smell of mud is so prevalent that your brain filters it out, and you’re left with smelling nothing, and it’s so quiet that if you stop moving and hold your breath you could almost hear your heart beating.” This does little to comfort her, but I’m not done yet.

“Your brain does an odd thing when it’s deprived like this. See, your brain likes to fill in gaps in information. It’s what allows you to see your blind spot. What we have done is create a blindspot, and now our brains will soon try to fill it in with all sorts of stuff.” Her grip loosens slightly.

“If you just observe yourself and don’t try and control it, your brain will relax and create a flow of imagination. You can play with that flow. I imagine that I’m not in a cave. I’m out under the stars. I see myself floating in a giant sea of black surrounded on all sides by tiny little points of light. I feel myself rotate around to look at all the different points.” I let this image sink into her head, and her grip loosens a little more. “I now imagine us together floating in this far off space.” Her grip loosens entirely, and she no longer feels afraid.

I then partake in one of the great joys of being in a cave. Many things about it like the tight spaces and the darkness can be replicated elsewhere, but I’ve yet to experience this thing anywhere but deep inside the earth, cave singing.

I start singing a song about flying around with someone and exploring the world. My voice reverberates through the cave. The cave walls and passages my voice depth and a unique sound that is not quite an echo. The total lack of other sounds allows the listener to hear a vast array of subtle fluctuations in my voice that would not be audible anywhere else. Every twist of my lips or motion of my tongue is clearly heard. One can almost imagine the exact moves my mouth must be making to create the sounds.

Then my voice does something else, it begins to fill the gaps in our visual imagination. The brain has nothing to work with buy my voice, so it makes my voice fill all the senses. The void we were hovering in suddenly becomes a starlit quest of rapid flying travel through faraway places and far off wonders.

It is a song I have heard many times, and that I had memorized long before I had ever seen our daughter’s letters. It depicts a journey together, with me and my future wife. That image of a journey blots out all else. Angelica turns to cuddle into me, listening to my voice. The cave is forgotten now. There are no low ceilings or muddy walls, there is just the two of us, and the adventure I am singing about.

The song winds down to a close, and silence resumes, but it is not an empty silence any longer. The images and dreams I have painted linger on, and make the dark not a veil that hides untold horrors, but a canvas on which to give life to the deep desires of the heart.

I am about to ask Angelica how she feels, but she answers me before I can ask. She answers me, with a song. I had nearly forgotten Sarah’s talk of my wife’s angelic voice. I understand it now. It is high and clear, different from my low full voice. It rings through the tunnels and speaks of a time of waiting. Of wanting something dearly, so bad that it hurts, and of almost giving up hope.

Then the song changes when she sings of finally finding that which she’s been looking for all along, and it’s everything she always hoped it would be. I have never heard that song before, nor would I ever hear anyone but her sing it again, because it’s her song. I don’t know if she wrote it ahead of time, or was inspired to make it up now, but it’s her song. No, it’s our song.

The song closes, and the silence descends again. Now the darkness is alive with romantic tones. It dances with the possibility of unbound dreams that have become reality.

I still hear her voice, even though there is not so much as an echo of it. I see the movements her lips must have made, going up and down, curving to make the air she was breathing out into words.

I reach out and place a finger on her lips, feeling the softness. She has them closed, and I slide the back of my finger because the back is more sensitive and I wanted to feel everything about them.

I feel a finger on my lips do the same thing, tracing a line all the way around, from the top to the bottom and back again.

I put one hand on the back of her head, and another on her shoulder. I pull her towards me, and she comes. It’s slow, and I can’t see in the dark, but I know our eyes are closed.

Her lips come as a surprise. It’s hard to gauge distance, but I suddenly feel warmth and moisture on my own lips. Her upper lip is between mine, and her lower one wraps around my lower lip. She’s soft, there is not much tension in her lips, and I match it with the strength of my own.

There in that moment, we are joined. I hear a great beast roar in my chest as everything in me says ‘yes, I can protect this woman. She is mine, and I am hers’. Her softness compliments my strength as for a few precious spaces in time we become one.

When we part I grab her cheeks, and kiss first her forehead, and then both her cheeks. She leans her head onto my shoulder, and I wrap an arm around her waist. I don’t know how long we sat there like that, but any amount of time would’ve been too short.

I can’t think of anything poetic enough to end the moment with, but I know it’s got to end because the sun might be setting, and it will be difficult to find our way back to the car in the night. I wordlessly shift my shoulder, and flip my light back on.

We both flinch and blink away after images. It felt like someone shoved a star in our faces.

“So soon?” She asks.

“All good things must come to an end.” I say. “But this thankfully isn’t an end. We will get to do this many more times. We just have to take a brief break.”

We make our way through the cave, and now it’s a joyous occasion. We point out cave formations that look like our favorite movie characters, and skip rocks across the small underground ponds we find.

There are a few points where the tunnel we are walking through crosses a river, and I carry her across them so she doesn’t get wet. Whenever I pick her up I bow and say “M’lady.” Offering my arms.

“Thank you my knight.” She responds with a british accent as she delicately sits in my arms.

We play prince and princess, pretending that through these caves are dragons and golden treasures. We must escape, but we must also find the treasure. I pause whenever there is a bend in the path, and feign fear as I peak around the corner to make sure the coast is clear. Playing make believe wasn’t something I had done since I could count my age on my fingers, but it felt right with her. It was like being a kid again.

Angelica had entered the cave closed up with fear, and she exits it bursting with happiness, and begging to go back again.

We hike back another mile or so to my vehicle, and I think that right now everything is as it should be. Our tasks are done. I have surely made Angelica let go of whatever she was holding on to, and now we belong to each other.

Our story has reached its perfection. Then, as Angelica has her eyes closed and is just leaning me on, trusting me to guide her through the trees back to the car, I realize it’s not perfect.

Everything should be perfect. Angelica is here, and both of us are falling head over heels for each other. Then why is there still a letter left?

“Angelica.” I say.

“Hmmm?” She responds.

“Did Sarah leave you any more letters?” She shakes her head.

“The last one told me to meet you here, why? Do you have a letter left?” She asks.

“Yes, and it’s for three years in the future.” I say.

“That’s strange. Do you have any idea what it could be?”

“She usually wrote to teach me something in order to make me a better person, or to comfort me in a time of sorrow.”

“Well I guess you still have one lesson left to learn.” Angelica says. Her dismissal of the other alternative does not escape my notice. She’s right though. She’s trying to tell me that that letter won’t be a part of our lives for another three years. I let it go, and we she changes the subject.

We spend the rest of the day enjoying each other’s company, she cooks me dinner, and I take her home at the end of the night. For the next year we spend many days like this. We explore many new things together. I am glad to have her at my side as I lead her through adventure after adventure. She continually amazes me with her grace and beauty in all things.

She begins to hang out with my family, discussing boys with Grace, and girls with James. She tries to discuss girls with Andy, but finds that he prefers a silent game of chess or some other strategy game. This too she obliges, making sure to study chess strategies before she pays my family a visit.

The happiness we have is tainted only by the letter. It hands over our relationship like a giant question mark. We spend many nights discussing what it could hold. We plan out our lives several years in advance, and begin to set our lives in order to avert any possible financial or medical crisis.

Both of us undergo rigorous testing and investigate our family trees to try and find where this mystery problem will come from. We take advanced defensive and evasive driving courses. We inspect our homes and vehicles regularly, becoming masters of maintenance and repair. We remodel our homes and upgrade our cars without ever having to consult contractors or engineers because we already know everything they could tell us.

Still, we find no answers, having explored all other possible options, Angelica finally says what I’ve been too afraid to say.

“It’s the baby.” Sarah said.

“What are you talking about?” I ask, feigning ignorance.

“We both know in about another year we’re going to marry, that leaves a little over one year until the letter. What can you think of that tends to happen a year after marriage?” Both of us had done the math early on. We had pretended that we hadn’t. We fervently pursued all other avenues which a sudden crisis would come from. We had even become responsible for our family’s home and auto repair to insure their safety as well, and both of our families were now on the same preventative diet. Both of us had hoped we would find some hidden time bomb that we could avoid, or at least foresee coming. We could no longer deceive ourselves.

“It could be something sudden.” I say. “There are some tragedies that you just can’t predict.”

“We can keep lying to ourselves all we want, but do you really think the timing is a coincidence?” She asks.

I say the other thing I’ve been avoiding. “It could be you.” I say. “Childbirth is dangerous.”

“I know.” She says. “And I know what I’m getting into. After all Sarah has done for us could I really deny her this?”

“Our first child might not be her.” I say. “She doesn’t say she’s our first born in my letters, maybe our first child…” I can’t finish the sentence

It’s the first and only time we have the conversation. We write a last will and testament together, something that is very uncommon for married people to do, and we both try and forget the conversation.

The time flies as our relationship grows and prospers. I propose to her on a beach in the Caribbean during a family vacation. Dolphins were involved. We anxiously plan a wedding where we invite all of our friends and family together to celebrate us.

We find each day that we are more and more a perfect match made for each other. A match made by our own daughter.

We spend our honeymoon hiking the trails of the grand canyon, and then spending a week on new Zealand beaches.

When we get back we set about making a home and a life together, insuring everything is perfect for the arrival of our daughter.

Sure enough, in early April, we get the news. Angelica is pregnant! We leap for joy, literally, when we get confirmation from the doctor, and proceed to run every single medical test in the book. We schedule every exam possible and run every test. They all come up blank. As far as we can determine, our child is fine.

We discover it’s a girl, and when the nurse shows us our sonogram we name her Sarah. We celebrate her arrival by reading each other’s letters. We had started to read them on the night we met, but it didn’t feel right without Sarah. Now Sarah had joined us, and we thought it was fitting that the first story we read to her was the story of how she had gotten her parents together.

We count down the days to December 25th, as it becomes clearer and clearer that is the day she will be born. The doctors tell us a due date, but we don’t remember what it is, because we know the exact date and time our daughter will be born.

On Christmas morning we don’t open presents, we don’t sing songs. We sit in a car outside an emergency room, and wait for her contractions to start.

The instant she feels them we rush inside and demand a bed. We are shown the room, and it’s the most tense hours of our lives. I glance from my wife, giving her assurance it’s going to be okay, to the doctors to try and read some sign of how the procedure is going, to the clock to see how much longer until 7:53 PM.

We demand constant updates from the doctors as Angelica moves through the birthing process. As ever, everything goes fine. Sarah’s head appears, and she’ not breathing.

The doctors rush her to another room. Angelica goes hysterical and they have to sedate her.

I follow the doctors and wait outside the operating room. I can’t believe it. I didn’t think it would really happen. I look at the look 7:53. I open the letter. On it there is no date, and no signature, just two words.

Turn around.”

I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn to see a nurse in blue scrubs with long brown hair and blue eyes like the sky. Just like her mother

“Hey dad.” She says.

“How, what, why.” I stumble through the words, trying to find the right ones.

“It’s okay.” She says. “I’m going to be alright.” She tells me. As if on cue a baby cries in the next room. She’s alive. She’s breathing.

“I wouldn’t have been able to help you along if I didn’t live through this.” She says.

“My wife.” I say.

“She’s fine. She’ll need you when the sedatives wear off, but there’s nothing wrong with her.” She had appeared like an angel, just in the nick of time to ward off evil.

“Why now?” I ask. “You’ve never appeared before.”

“Besides the obvious?” She says. “Because this is where the cycle begins.”

“The cycle?” I ask.

“The cycle of time travel.” She says. “I can only go back once per lifetime, and so whenever I am born again I will time travel again, so I must instruct you to hand over the letters to her, along with my notes so that she can fix the timeline and make things right between you and mom.”

“You have to grow up every time? I thought time travel was like driving a car between two different locations.” Sarah shakes her head.

“No, it’s more like sending a manned shuttle to Mars, it’s a one way trip.” She informs me.

“So every single time you came back. You had to wait for years for the plan to come to fruition, and when it failed you had to hand over what went wrong to me so I could pass it on to you.” She nods. I ask the big question.

“How many times did you go back?”

“It only ever feels like I’ve been once because I’ve been working off notes from myself, but I do keep a running tally of how many times I’ve tried to make things work.”

“How many?” I ask.

“103.” She says. I’m dumbfounded.

“103.” I repeat.

“Yes.” She says. “And now it’s done. The cycle is complete. It’s time for me to go. Say hi to your daughter. You won’t see me again, but I’ll be watching. You may not see me, but I’ll always be watching.”

The End

For those who simply cannot wait for another book ‘Unhooked’ is also available under novellas https://samgalimore.com/2014/10/16/unhooked-part-one/ as well as two shorter novellas Or one of the shorter novellas https://samgalimore.com/2014/10/12/for-use-in-the-apocaypse-novella-version/ https://samgalimore.com/2014/10/04/man-out-of-time/. I will also be working on another project that’s been sitting in my back pocket for some time now. Thank you for being a part of the creation of this book. Each and every one of you played a part in its creation. May you find peace and warmth in your life, Sam.

Breaking news! Just talked with an independent director last night, and Letters To My Father will be made into an episodic movie! Super excited about this. Many of you asked about a movie, and I guess somebody stepped up to the plate. If you want more details, go and bug reddit.com/u/ulyssesarias . He’s trying to make it as high quality as possible with location shoots and professionals, so he will be starting a kickstarter in a couple weeks, and shooting should start in February or March of next year. I’ll post more as things get closer.