Much Longer Than Always


Warning: This story contains strong language.

Sunday Photo Fiction, September 18, 2016

Charlie hid in the shadow of the blossoming dogwood, wishing she’d worn something heavier. When they’d been teenagers, Tom was always late. Why would that change? Only now, with clouds drifting across the sun, did it occur to her that maybe he wasn’t coming. After ten years, maybe he’d forgotten.

The couple sitting on the bench near the pagoda lantern left and Charlie moved there, crouching into herself to stay warm. She watched as a Hispanic-looking man in a Marine uniform approached. His gaze took in the area and then fell on Charlie. She straightened.

“Are you Charlie?” he asked.

She squinted up at him, nodding. He removed an envelope, which he handed her. “This is from Tom.”

His face was impassive. She took the envelope, her hand trembling as she ripped it open.

Helmand Province, Afghanistan 2015.

Charlie! If Rodriguez gave this to you, then my news is shitty. Three things my former bald leukemic girlfriend: I beat cancer. I never forgot you, never stopped loving you—ever. I joined the Marines and probably died in this shithole. I hope you never see this. The irony of it would be too fucking much. Excuse my French.

Love, much longer than always, Tom


end 9/18/2016 (2)

S. Darlington

13 thoughts on “Much Longer Than Always

  1. Powerful story. He beats cancer to die in war in Afhganistan, or so we are led to believe. Sad for her, they must have been close, both dealing with cancer. I wonder if he just thought the cancer will come back anyways so I might as well do something useful and brave. This could have a part 2. It would be interesting, maybe Tom shows up oddly? Great write!

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, so many ways to go, but with only 200 words to work with. Maybe it would be better as a longer tale. Or, do a different take and make it longer…as long as longer isn’t maudlin. 🙂 Thanks again! 🙂

  2. Omg Sascha, where are the tissues? I was all for hoping that Tom would show up but that letter, *sniffles*. It’s just…he beats cancer…to die in the Marines? He loved her! And she was dealing with cancer too! They’re almost star-crossed lovers in a way. Sigh. I love that you managed to tell such a full story in just a few words.

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