Tag Archives: Wife

Upon sneezing a man is teleported to a room with all of his….partners

“Sweetie, I’ve got a cold again. You know it’s just a matter of time.” I told my wife over the phone.

“Babe seriously? I’m still getting over last time.” She was a very innocent girl my wife. I rather admired that in her. Whenever I looked at her I saw a pure Disney princess. Someone strong like Belle, but child-like too. Kind of like Rapunzel. She really didn’t deserve this curse.

“I know. I’m downing cold medicine like an addict but I’m having a hard time holding it in. You’ve got minutes at most to prepare yourself.” She had to keep her phone on constantly now, so whenever I felt the urge coming on I would just call her to give her a little warning. That was the least I could do for her.

“Can’t you just hold your nose or something?” She begged.

“Princess I’m really doing the best I can but….but..oh no. Achoo!

All of the sudden I was alone in bed with my wife, the only girl for me.

“Babe I was in the middle of a crochet project.” She said.

“I’m sorry, but hey, it was date night anyway right?” I asked. Her girlish smile turned decidedly woman like.

“I guess I can finish it later.”

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The haunting note

I recently did a collaborative story with my friend reddit.com/user/Luna_Lovewell . I started a story and she had the brilliant idea to continue it. The result is below, with her writing about half of the total story. See if you can guess who is who :). If you like her stuff you can find more at reddit.com/r/Luna_Lovewell

Guessing the meaning behind the note had become a game. When the lads were taking watches at night to ward off the werewolves, they would entertain themselves by postulating different theories.

Everyone had one they latched on to. Simon was of the opinion that it was an ancient symbol. A bloodrite passed down by my father to signify that I was an initiate into some secret order.

Gregory claimed it was a play on words. “D Sharp, and it’s a key. So somewhere there’s a key to some hidden treasure which is sharp and in the shape of a D.”

Peter would always think he had it right because none of the others factored in the crossbow. “Why would he only have it on the crossbow then? Why not emblazon it on his shield and armor as well? It’s not the cost surely. We have retrieved more than enough loot from our monster hunting to cover any blacksmithing expense. No, you blokes have got it all wrong. It’s a marksman achievement. There’s some tournament of the world’s best archers. They don’t want to advertise their skill lest people challenge them, but they wish to carry a symbol so other worthy marksmen know. Do we not call marksmen Sharpshooters? I cannot say for sure what the D is for, perhaps a rank. It is the fourth letter. So perhaps our comrade here is highly ranked.”

These were the most exciting theories. The others merely thought it was the key of my favorite song, and debated which of the very few composed in it was the song.

None of them were right. It was a much more personal reason. Before I had joined with the hunters a dragon attacked my cottage. I rushed to get a bow and fend the beast off. I had a bow for hunting boar and fired shot after shot at the beast, but it was no use. It carried off my wife.

She was a brave soul. She didn’t want me to be afraid, so as the beast carried her skyward, I lowered my bow, and I heard drifting through the air a song. Most other women would have screamed. In fact, all other women I’ve seen be victims in a dragon attack have shrieked loud enough to wake the dead. Not my wife. She knew that her suffering would bring me pain. So in the last moments that I saw her, she decided to comfort me with a song to let my know she was alright. A song that ended with the note D#.

I can no longer remember the words, but I still remember the note. She held that note until I could no longer hear her. I have it on my crossbow to remind me that she still might be out there, and that when next I have an opportunity to save her, I won’t miss.

I stirred from my bunk after another half-night of restless sleep, tormented by dreams of fire. Careful not to wake the other guards, I stumbled outside to the well. Damp mist shrouded the camp, leaving only blurs of buildings and hazy orange globes that marked the torches of the night watch.

I tugged at the coarse rope hanging down into the cavernous, stone-lined pit in the center of the camp. A gentle splash echoed from below, and I hauled up a bucket of cool, crisp water that captured the moonlight in its sloshing waves. I drank deeply, filling my belly and soothing my parched throat. From the wall, I heard the chatter and laughs of the guards at their posts, no doubt sneaking mead from the kitchens and wasting arrows on shadows at the treeline. I had half a mind to go reprimand them, but I could save that task for tomorrow’s briefing.

After a final gulp of water, I padded back to my cabin. The mist closed in around me, growing so dense that I could barely see my own feet. Only the bright moon was able to pierce its nebulous veil. The rusty hinges of the barracks door squeaked as I pulled it open, as if protesting that I had woken them up with my nighttime sojourn. Just as I crossed the threshold, another sound trickled through the mists. A soft whisper, lighter than the flap of a bat’s wings at dusk. It was the sound that pursued me every night through my dreams. My beautiful wife’s voice as the beast carried her back to its lair; that haunting song that I knew would end in that final D-sharp. The mists seemed to swirl in excitement upon hearing it, and I wondered (not for the first time) whether I was truly awake.

The door slammed shut behind me with a clatter as I turned and ran back outside. I bounded down the path and bounded up the rough timber steps to the guard outpost overlooking the dense swamp that marked the border between Oltaria and the neighboring Kingdom of the Dead. The voice called to me again, coming from somewhere beyond the trees.

“Do you hear that?” I asked wildly to the guards as I burst through their door. They stood wide-eyed with fear and nodded, instantly sobered by the haunting sound. The song began to fade, receding deeper into the trees, luring me out. I knew it was likely a trap; all sorts of beasts lurked in these woods, and their magics had tempted many a traveler to stray from the road, ending in a grisly death. But how had it known to use that one song? How could it mimic the soft tone of her voice? How did it know about my obsession with that final note? I had to know if she was out there, no matter the cost.

I snatched my crossbow from its peg and vaulted over the rim of the rough timber wall that guarded our fort. The guards behind me called out, thinking that the sound had driven me mad. They didn’t know about her. They didn’t know what the sound meant. My bare feet squished into the mud as I sprinted into the swamp.

“I’m coming,” I whispered to her.

The dead forest, so called because of what was in it, and what failed to come out of it. Only hunters were crazy, greedy, or desperate enough to live on its borders, and even hunters knew not to venture into the woods without plenty of backup, and plenty of daylight left. So slim was the chance of survival after dark that soldiers who failed to answer roll call at sundown were automatically listed as KIA.

I could hear my men shouting at me from the fort, but now one venture after me. When I approached the tree line, their voices died down to avoid attracting monsters, and I dove into the darkness alone.

I dropped into a crouch and drew my knife. I held my knife hand in front of me and balanced my crossbow on it. If something came at me, I would only have one shot with my ranged weapon, and I needed my knife at the ready to ward off the teeth, poisons, and claws the waited for me here.

That note, that beautiful terrible note was still ringing in the air, calling to me. It was a trap. I knew it was, but I could not help it. I would not wait another year aching to hear that voice again. That memory died here tonight, one way or the other.

The voice is getting close now. Less than fifty paces off. I cannot make out anything distinct, but there is a faint heavenly glow in the distance. It was so hauntingly otherworldly that I almost thought the dead forest had already claimed me, but this was not my first hunt. It was going to take more than mind games to deter me.

I drop to the ground, keeping my arms out in front of me, and begin slowly moving forward. The voice and the glow are stationary, there’s no hurry. I take my time, tilting my head sideways to minimize my profile, and never lifting a limb more than an inch or two off the ground.

It’s excruciatingly slow going. Moving a few feet takes minutes, and I become painfully aware of how muddy the ground is, but the mud is not my main concern. My main concern is the hissing sound that’s uncomfortably close to my head.

Grateful for my slow pace I freeze in place, not even daring to move my eyes from the point they were fixed on.

I can now hear more than a hiss. I hear a slither moving towards me from the opposite direction I’m looking at. I try to guess the species of the snake. It sounds like it could be eight or even nine feet long. That was bad. It had to be poisonous at that length. Constrictors would be over fifteen feet, and less dangerous snakes would be under three. Nine was exactly the wrong length.

I hear the flicker of its tongue as it tastes the air, searching for prey. There are rapid swishing motions as its head must be turning left and right. It’s close now. I could kick it if I had a death wish.

I tense my muscles as it closes the last few inches and touches my ribcage. I want to feel like a rock so I keep my muscles as tense as possible. Feel like stone, not flesh. I tell myself. Stone, not earth. I’m literally holding my breath as the weight of it moves onto my back, like a giant hand pressing against my side, and slowly, easily moving up my back to my shoulder.

Earth, not flesh, earth not flesh. I said it like a prayer as the head of the thing reached my shoulder blade, and out of the corner of my eye I got a glimpse of its sleek glittering black eyes. I dared not look at it lest it become startled by the sudden movement of my eyes.

The thing was pressing on me so hard that I almost exhaled from the weight of it. It was becoming a strain to keep my breath in and as the thing passed so close to my face I could’ve kissed it, a bead of sweat began to form on my head.

The feeling of the thing moving on my back, the sight of its eyes as close as those of a lover, and the tell tale drop of sweat on my head made we want to cry out and try and bring my knife to bare.

Then I hear that D# cutting through the night again, reminding me why I’m reminding. Reminding me that some things are worth kissing a viper for.

It’s just barely enough for me to hold on as the head of the thing passes by, and begins to move back into the brush. There are a few more seconds where my lungs begin to burn as the remaining few feet of serpent move off of me and into the night.

I start breathing again after I no longer hear its slithering sound, and begin my hunt for the thing crying out with my wife’s voice.

I reached a clearing in the trees: a wide, open space pitted by bogs of stagnant marsh water. The parts that were solid earth were covered by a tall, dry grass that rattled lightly in the wind. Across the field, I could see that same light glowing through the mist, brilliantly white like an angel.

I stepped forward onto the field, and the ground crunched beneath me. Bones, bleached white by centuries in the sun. Skeletal fingers still gripped a rotten wooden spear, tipped by a rusted metal diamond that had fallen into the dirt. A wicked curved dagger was stuck between two of the ribs. Patches of spiky grass poked through rusted-out holes in the armor, and moss grew over the remnants of his shield. I gingerly tried to avoid disturbing the corpse, but there was another right next to it. Dozens more, everywhere I stepped. The whole clearing was a graveyard; a forgotten battlefield of some long-ago war lost to history. They were in no shape to rise against me, but I unslung my crossbow and notched a bolt regardless; maybe the stories about the Kingdom of the Dead were true after all.

But I would have fought through the entire undead army to cross that field. The luminescent glow through the mists taunted me, urging me forward. Whatever was singing my wife’s song was waiting for me across the clearing, basking in that glow. Armor crumbled under my feet as empty eye sockets stared up at me accusingly. I felt a thousand eyes watching me from the trees as beasts lurked under the boughs; even they didn’t dare enter this clearing.

I came close enough to make it out the object. It was a box made of gleaming steel with thick rivets built to contain tremenous force; The top, however, was a translucent bubble gleaming in the night. I stepped closer, able to view the interior. Gleaming golden gears and cranking shafts scurried around frantically, around one enormous central cylinder, dotted tiny metal notches. The glow came from glass bottles with what seemed like bottled lightning.

BEAUTIFUL, ISN’T IT?” roared a voice from behind me as the ground beneath me rattled violently.

I spun, almost dropping my crossbow. The dragon had swooped in behind me and landed with a crash that sent bone fragments into the air along with a cloud of dust. His veiny red wings spread wide, blocking out the moon that was just beginning to fall. That same, scaly demon who had taken my wife all those years ago. Without another thought, I fired my crossbow bolt with a twang. It didn’t even pierce his thick, chitinous scales; the bolt just veered off, sending a shower of sparks into the mist.

“**That thing won’t help you,” he said with a smirk obvious even across his reptilian face.

“Where is she?” I answered. “I heard her!”

Touch that button next to you,” The dragon told me. I kept one eye on him, but did what he said. The device inside whirred and spun, and the soft notes of my wife’s song drifted out. I turned away from the dragon, pressing my palms against the glass. What is this device?

She’s still alive, you know,” A tear sprang to my eye as her voice became stronger, just as sweet as when she used to sing to the birds in the garden of our cottage. “Wouldn’t you want to see her again?

I fell to my knees before the beast.

“How?”

“As I told you. Simply touch the button.” The dragon ordered. It was clearly enjoying itself. Dragons were very patient beings. They could spend an entire human lifetime setting up a moment such as this. An ‘entertainment’ they called it. A sick joke that they spent unfathomable amounts of effort into just to see a mortal squirm.

“What happens then?” I asked.

“Then you take her place mortal.” The dragon crushed several skulls under his feet. I hoped he wasn’t foreshadowing what was to come.

“And what happens to her?” I ask. Forgetting that I don’t know where she is.

“She takes your place.” The dragon drags out the last word like it’s a final note in a song. He knows what drew me here. He’s mocking me.

“So you can just take her away again? And leave me trapped wherever she is?” There’s no way that I’ll let her out here. She has to be safer where she is. A whole squad of my best men couldn’t escort her safely out of here without the dragon. With the monstrosity here anything short of a legion of troops would be insufficient.

“I’ll see that she’s….taken care of.” The beast snapped its jaws. It could break grown trees in two with those powerful jaws.

“You know I can’t believe you.” I tell the flying serpent.

Fire shot skyward from its mouth, billowing upward larger than I’d seen any pillar made by human hands. It roared loud enough to wake the heaviest sleeper three leagues off, and swatted its tail through the trees, cutting down a row of strong oaks.

You also know you can’t win. So I can make a meal of you right now. Or. The thing leaned down as its face was close to me. You can make it sporting for me.

I’d have to fight the beast. There was nothing for it. My love would be in far greater danger here than any she could possibly be facing in her current location. I’d force the great brute to fight me, and then maybe when the sport was out of it he’d let her go. She’d still have to make her way through the dead forest, but perhaps the creatures would think she was under the dragon’s protection, and leave her alone.

I reach for a bolt, readying my crossbow for one final stand. Smoke rises from the dragon’s nostrils as he prepares to end this fight as soon as I start it.

Then, I hear the words. The words to the song that I hadn’t remembered for years. The tune that had followed me into spider’s caves and dragon’s lairs now finally had words to it again. My wife’s words.

Hearth and home have I prepared for you

Rest you now, your slumber’s overdue.

Seek ye peace, the world’s troubles will I mend.

And when you wake, my face will you see again.

And now I know what I must do.

I lowered my bow, defeated. The dragon looked down at me with smoldering amber eyes, savoring his victory. His massive clawed feet dug into the ground as he stomped closer, and the red, scaled tail slithered through the grass behind him, leaving a furrowed trail of dirt and bones.

Wise choice, farmer,” it told me with a heavy emphasis on the last word, mocking me. Dragons savored only the hunt; those who raised food peacefully were the lowest of the low, only good for sport. “Surrender yourself, and I will let her free

I did as I was instructed, pressing the ruby gemstone button in the center of the device. The glass covering seemed to melt, vanishing into thin air. From the interior, the gears whirred and clanked, moving quickly. The dragon leaned closer, so near that I could smell the sulphur on his breath. The large metal cylinder in the middle of the machine rose slowly and popped open with an explosion of green sparks. From inside that golden shell, a long, slender handle appeared. Carved of dark wood, almost black, tipped with a metal ball in the shape of a flower bulb.

We call it a soul rose,” The dragon explained, with a hint of awe in his voice. “It will be your home until I find my next plaything. Or until you break.” He seemed to relish the thought of the latter.

I took it from the cannister and held it gently, admiring the craftsmanship even as I felt the dark power emanating from it. The dragon scooted closer for a better look, surrounding me with his enormous leathery wings. His scaly underbelly loomed above me, blotting out the night’s stars.

“What do I do with it?”

He hummed something in his own tongue, a harsh guttural language that sounded like an avalanche. The rose sprang to life, spreading apart into delicately crafted petals of white ivory. In the center,though, razor-edged golden teeth revealed a gaping black maw.

Now, press it to your heart. Your soul will inhabit the Rose, and your wife shall return in your place.

I looked down at the device, stalling. I could still hear my wife’s song, reassuring me. Soothing my spirit. She was the strong one, putting on a brave face for my own benefit. She would be willing to make this sacrifice, going into the unknown just to save me. A tear rolled down my cheek, causing the dragon to stand tall and cackle, a ferocious noise that sounded like he was coughing up rocks.

Seek ye peace, the world’s troubles will I mend.

With one swift motion, I loaded the rose into my crossbow. I turned back to the dragon, still stretched high into the night in front of me. His eyes narrowed as he suddenly realized what I had done, and his broad wings flapped to protect his exposed belly, but it was too late. The crossbow cable snapped, and the rose soared straight through the air. Maybe not as fast as a sleek arrow would have, but it did the trick. It struck the dragon’s scaly skin right where I knew his heart would be.

A gusting wind swept through the field, rattling the tall grasses and swirling through the tree branches on the edges. The dragon stood petrified for a moment, then began to glow. First only a bit, like a far-off glimmer. Then brighter and brighter until it was more intense than the sun itself, and I had to shield my eyes.

When I looked back, the dragon had disappeared and my wife stood in the field before me.

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.