Short Story: Sunset
“Anytime now.” the doctors had said, referring to Valerie’s deteriorating condition.
With a heavy sigh, Zach slowly wheeled Valerie out of the hospital. There was only one thing left to do now and that was to be with Valerie as much as possible. For Zack, reality had finally begun to set in around him. Valerie, the love of his life, had terminal cancer. And she was going to die.
He felt Valerie clasp his hand. He stopped the wheelchair and immediately looked down at Valerie.
“What is it, love?” he asked gently, trying hard not to cry.
“Let’s go to the beach, Zach. To the place where we always go when we want to be alone.” she whispered.
“Val, are you sure? Don’t you want to be with your family right now? I’m sure your parents would want to be with you as you spend your remaining days.” Zach said. In an ordinary day, Zach would have gladly given in to her request. But this was no ordinary day. He wondered if Valerie even knew that she was dying. That a horrible tumor in her body was responsible for her suffering.
“I’m pretty sure they would understand. Please, Zach?” Valerie begged.
Sighing, Zach finally budged. He hated it when Valerie acted that way. He just couldn’t resist saying “no” especially now that Valerie was leaving.
The road to the beach was a quiet one. Valerie chose not to turn on the radio and tune in to her favorite station. The silence reminded Zach of his personality. Between the two, it was him who was the silent one. He was more used to listening while Valerie was more used to being listened to. She was more vocal about her feelings while he preferred expressing his feelings through actions. In social gatherings, it was Valerie who did the talking while he made sure that she was safe. Clearly, they were both different and he was amused that they managed to last for five years as a couple.
“Zach.” Valerie whispered, interrupting him from his thoughts.
“Yes, love?” he asked, turning to her.
“I said I love you.” she said with a smile.
“Me too, Val. Me too.” he said, smiling back.
Valerie let go of Zach’s hand and stared ahead. Soon, she started crying, which alarmed Zach.
“It hurts, Zach!” she sobbed.
Zach pulled over and comforted her. Oh, he would dearly miss everything. The fragrant smell of her perfume. Her beautiful face. Her soft skin. The warmth in her eyes. The flash of her teeth. And her kiss. Oh, her kiss. So sweet, tender and capable of taking away his breath. At that moment, he could not believe that everything was going to be taken away from him soon.
Eventually, they reached their destination. Except for the sound of the waves, nothing could be heard of in the place. They had the place all to themselves.
Zach helped Val to a sitting position and then sat beside her. Together, they watched the sun, which was beginning to set.
“Are you happy, my love?” he asked Val.
“Yes, I am. I’m happy that you’re here with me as I live on borrowed time. Thank you, Zach, for granting my wish.” she said.
Together, they spent the last hour talking to each other. They talked about how they first met. How an awkward run-in led them to form an intimate relationship with each other. They talked about prom where they were hailed Prom King and Prom Queen. They talked about how they had their very first fight. They talked about all those food trips they had which ate up all of their savings. They talked about how their parents consistently teased them that they were soul mates. They talked about how they planned to have children and grow old together.
With a smile, Valerie leaned her head on Zach’s shoulders and closed her eyes.
“Val, I know that I haven’t been the most vocal person in terms of expressing how I feel. You’ve always known me to express my love for you by giving you gifts, by granting your requests, by spending time with you, by kissing and by hugging you. But just this once, I want to express my love for you in a different manner.” he started.
“I love you, Val. So much. Our relationship is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. I will always appreciate every moment we had, including the bad ones. You taught me that everyone isn’t as bad as I thought they would be. You taught me to open my heart to others and give second chances to those who have hurt me. You taught me how to enjoy life more and love with all my heart. And as cheesy as this may sound, I find myself falling deeper and deeper for you as the days go by. I hope you know that, love.” he said.
She never opened her eyes again.
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