Family Fiction posted September 6, 2012


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Keeping vows

Ever After

by GWHARGIS

Sometimes I wonder if Lane and I would still be together had he not had his accident. I'd like to think we would have survived, that we are, in fact, soul mates. He called us that years ago, when I was childish enough to think there really was a happily ever after. I didn't know what soul mates were. I just knew we were crazy in love.

How could I not fall in love with him? He was perfect. He was Captain America and he made me feel perfect.

Now he sits on the couch most of the time. He looks perfect, still beautiful, with eyes that I swore could see into my very soul.

"Allie," he says. "Come see t.v."

I nod my head, but continue to watch him. He still takes my breath away. His smile is both disarming and devastating. My beautiful Captain America is trapped inside a damaged brain.

He looks again at me, getting impatient. "You come now." He pats the cushion beside him with authority.

"Hold your horses, Lane."

My friends tell me I should move on. They tell me I'm no more than a glorified babysitter. But they don't understand how we were. We made a vow. He promised to love me forever and I promised to love him. Forever. There was no preacher, no witnesses, just Lane, me, and God.

I've heard I'm an honorable person for staying. It has nothing to do with honor though. I still love him. I love the man he was and the child he has become.

Covering his hand with mine, we watch Spongebob. He loves it, is obsessed with it. Yellow is his favorite color. I wear a lot of yellow. This is when I pretend. He still wants me, I tell myself. When he runs his hand over the soft cable knit of my sweater I think about how he used to touch me. Sometimes I guide his hand, hoping he will remember. If I get too wrapped up in the moment, where my eyes close and my breath comes in short urgent gasps, he gets more curious.

"I not hurting you, Allie?" He frowns, wondering why I moan. "I scare you?"

He explores me with little more than childlike wonder. No desire in his touch. It is locked away deep inside him.

"What we have is special," he used to say. "We're like old souls, brought together again from past lives. Do you feel it, Allie?"

I do.

"If one of us should die first, we'll reunite in the next life."

Talk like that did little more than confuse me then, but now I understand. If I leave him now, he will know in the next life. He will know I didn't keep my promise.

"You go get me milk." He licks his lips, his little way of letting me know he's thirsty.

"How do you ask?"

"Please."

I start to pull away, to go to the kitchen but he grabs my hand and squeezes it gently. "I love my Allie," he tells me.

"I love you too."

He drinks the milk, wiping it from his mouth with his sleeve. He offers me the final sip and I let him lift the cup to my mouth.

"Thank you. That was nice of you to share."

There is something on his mind. I see the turmoil in his brilliant green eyes. "I not like this before, hunh, Allie?"

"No, you're like this because of your accident."

He pauses. "He was smarter, the other boy before."

"Not always, he just thought he was," I say, teasing him.

Lane gives me a tiny smile tinged with sadness. "You like the other Lane more?"

"I loved you then and I love you now."

Lane thinks of himself as two different people. The Lane before the accident and the Lane after. They have nothing in common except me. I am the bridge that links the two. I have been on both banks, stood with him on both shores. Now I stand in the middle. But the part of the bridge that connects me to the old Lane is crumbling. Forcing me closer to who he is now. All I can do is look back and try to memorize the shore line.

"I try to re-remember things from before." He leans against me, his fingers turning the hem of my t-shirt. "It make you happy when I remember?"

"Sure."

"I not like him no more," he says. "But we be okay, Allie. Right?"

"Of course. We'll live happily ever after," I whisper, pressing my lips to the top of his head. "We'll finish this life then go on to the next."

"Okay, Allie, we finish ever after together. Okay?"

"Ever after again and again," I promise as I take the cup from his hands. For a moment I pretend it's the old Lane, trapped inside of him, sending me a message.

We'll get through this and the next life will be better. That is his message.

Some days are like that. I can go with the hope that ever after isn't just going through the motions. There truly is a happily ever after.


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Would like feedback, especially from anyone with a similar situation. Thank you DeeM757 for the great picture.
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