A Fragile Short Story by Matthew William Elsbernd

The rain of fire, the spray of bullets. One moment life, the next moment death. But yes, they had found their paradise, and I had escaped to mine, but the disease of my world had followed me. And as the thunder roared overhead, I knew that this paradise would turn into hell as well, all because I had run, tried to escape. But how foolish I was, now it would get her young life as it would mine. Her innocence had been violated by my return, and I burst into tears.

She looked up at me. Her blue eyes staring with their brilliance. She kept asking what was wrong, but I could not answer her. Her eyes now clouded with tears, hiding the intensity of the blue. I pulled her close. The feeling of her warm body against my cold form helped, but the fear could not be fought off.

Holding the back of her head, stroking her hair with my frail, old fingers, I saw the rose wilt under the rain. Its petals turned grey, then black, then disappeared into the mud.

I dropped the umbrella and held her with both of my arms. I could see her radiant glow fading, and now as the rain came down, she was becoming drenched.

As if mere make-up, as the water ran down her body, she changed. Her hair lost its snow white color, streaked with black. Her skin started wrinkling, turning darker and darker. Her face grew older and older.

As her body was losing its youthful glow, she just stared into my eyes. Her blue eyes stayed true, still burning their way into my heart.

My tears continued to pour as my heart plummeted. I had failed. As I stood looking at that old, time-worn woman who was familiar to me, I knew I had failed.

All I had wanted was to protect her. I wanted to keep her from all of the pain and agony that I had lived thru. When I had taken her hand forever, and promised my undying love, I had taken her to this forgotten paradise so that she could be young and carefree forever.

But as I saw the woman I had fought to keep young, I realized I had cheated her. I had prevented her from growing up. To never age like I had. She was always a child in this paradise.

But with my keeping her young, I had prevented her from having her love for me grow. I had kept her here while I struggled in the real world. All I wanted to do was protect her, but I had prevented her from fulfill her desires: to grow old with me, to share an ever-growing love, to never be apart, to be in love forever.

And as the world melted around me, I realized that we were headed towards the paradise I had been searching for. And at that last moment, I smiled. It was the first smile in years: my last smile - in this life.
Last PageCopyright 1990 Revised January 1997