“Forever” by Ruth Schiffmann

We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. This week, we meet Bryce and Emily who want nothing more than to grow old together.

We present our Feature Story: “Forever” by Ruth Schiffmann


Strong waves pounded the Cape Cod shore just a few yards beyond where Bryce and Emily stood in front of the yacht club, the same place they met as teens. Hidden by beach grass, with soft sand on their feet, they embraced, relieved to finally escape their wedding guests. Bryce’s poetic whispers suddenly ceased as he pulled back, swept the windblown hair from her face, and said, “There’s something I need to tell you, Emily.”

“Anything,” she said, her eyes still dreamy. She could hardly believe that his challenge to outsail her eight years earlier, and the kiss she placed on his cheek when he offered his congratulations on her win had finally culminated in her becoming Mrs. Bryce Jensen. “You can tell me anything.”

He looked even more serious than he had as he recited his vows in front of two hundred guests.
“I want to grow old with you, Emily.”

She pulled him close for another kiss, this one more passionate than the one at the altar.

It became their tradition: the water, the waves, quiet walks and the feeling of escape. On their
first anniversary they strolled the cool quartz sands of Siesta Key.

To celebrate two years together, they collected blown glass floats along seven and a half miles
of beach on the Pacific coast of Oregon.

They agreed quickly on the Caribbean to commemorate their third year, eager for the clear, calm
turquoise waters of Rainbow Bay.

Though the setting was always different, the moment was always the same when Bryce quieted,
got more serious, took her hand in his and said, “There’s something I need to tell you.”

“Anything,” she always replied.

“I want to grow old with you, Emily,” he wrapped her in his strong arms and reassured her of his
devotion.

The year Kate was born, they found it impossible to get away. And then came Carter, Abigail,
Lucas, and Jake. When the children were young it was a matter of timing that kept them from their
yearly getaways. There was always a ballet recital, a little league playoff, or a drama club
production that couldn’t be missed. As the children got older, Bryce and Emily were tucking away
all they could for college. Instead of exotic yearly trips to the oceanfront, they took nightly walks
around the pond just down the road from their home. Sometimes the pace was leisurely, after a
long, hard day, other times it was brisk to work off the extra pounds that had found their way to her
hips and his mid-section over the holidays. But each October when their anniversary rolled around,
he would take a moment as they walked to reach for her hand, draw her close, and say, “There’s
something I need to tell you.”

“Anything,” she would reply, knowing his answer, and appreciating the comfort of the familiar
ritual. Although it was truly the other 364 days a year that he proved his devotion, she never got
tired of hearing him say the words, like a promise of forever. Year after year, he looked at her as
though he didn’t notice the wrinkles and graying hair, and she tried to put the increasing frequency
of his doctor visits out of her mind.

One early June evening, as the night dimmed around them on their nightly walk, it almost felt
like art the way Bryce stood beside the pond with the glow of the town shining over him. He
reached for Emily’s hand and drew her close. “There’s something I need to tell you,” he said four
months early. The look in his eyes was unfamiliar. Instead of wrapping her in his embrace, one
hand tightened around hers, the other he pressed gently against her cheek. Her heart went cold and
she couldn’t find a voice for the response of the past thirty-four years. He rubbed his thumb over
her skin and wiped away the tear that fell before he’d said another word. “I want to grow old with
you, Emily,” he said, with a ripple in his breath.

They walked around the pond one more time that night and each night that followed, as long as
he was strong enough. They walked without promise, but always with hope for one more day.


Ruth Schiffmann is happiest when she’s writing with her dogs quietly curled up at her feet. More
than two hundred of her stories, articles, essays and poems have appeared in publications both
online and in print. She’s currently working on a picture book and a YA novel. To read more of her
work, visit her website and follow her blog.

 


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2 Comments

  1. I cried when I read your story, Ruth. Richard and I have been married 33 years, together almost 35 years, and forever is quickly slipping away.

    A beautiful and touching story.

  2. excellent.

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