The Girl Who Cried War
Author: coritherien

Chapter 21
Epilogue

August 8th, 2010

            We were married less than a month later.  We had originally planned to wait until I’d finished high school, but we were never that conventional.  Our parents weren’t thrilled about the idea, but they’d all realized that our relationship either matched, or in the Richardson’s case, surpassed theirs.  Besides, Nate’s parents got him back from the dead.  After that, marriage was a cake walk. 

            The weeks following our return were…eventful.  When Nate simply showed up on his parents’ doorstep, his mother had a psychotic break.  Carla nearly followed suit.  His mother actually had to attend a therapy to repair her psyche, because she’d started to believe that every day occurrences were figments of her imagination.  She began to feel invincible, especially whilst driving.  If her son could return from the grave, then she could too.  Furthermore, she wouldn’t let Nate out of her sight for a month.  If he was away from her for longer than an hour, she’d go into an unresponsive shock until he returned.  Mr. Richardson had no patience for it.  With help, she recovered, though.  I was deemed the hero for bringing their son home, like it was my plan all along.

            My parents were at a loss.  I was grounded, because they knew I should be after leaving the country without their permission, but they didn’t so much as confine me to the house.  They welcomed Nate with open arms, because they knew he was the only thing that would…well, fix me.  They, too, couldn’t live with the way I’d been acting. 

            Aimee was beside herself when I told her the whole story, and now she insists she’s writing a book about us.  Always a dreamer, that one.

            Mattie is a different story.  I’d like to give you a happy ending but the truth is that we haven’t spoken since the day I turned him down.  He didn’t even show at my wedding.  I still miss him sometimes, but I’ve learned to count my blessings.

            Using my advice, Fontaine found a genuinely kind woman and the two are to wed this coming May.  Sure, she likes to drink every bit as much as he does and he’s still as pompous as ever, but at least they’re happy, right?

             Billy returned to the U.S. as well, and now lives only a half-hour from Nate and me.  When we found out the man had been spending his Christmases alone for almost ten years now, we flew him out from his previous Washington hometown and insisted he enjoy it with us.  He made the move because, as he said, he could “whittle whistles from bark on either side of the country, but this end has my new family.”  When whistle-whittling proved an insufficient source of income, I helped him secure a job in retail.  The Big & Tall franchise never had a bigger heart working for them.

            As for Nate and I, things never went back to normal, and I don’t think they ever will.  They can’t.  We’ve grown so much, and so close, that we’re more like one unit than two individuals.  Waking every day and seeing him beside me makes everything else in my life alright.  I don’t care if that’s unhealthy.

            There are still parts of the war he won’t talk to me about.  I used to ask, but I’ve learned that I’m better off in the dark.  Nate was diagnosed with PTSD soon after he remembered about his friend Chris.  Those were some dark weeks.  He was so close to me—I could touch his skin, feel his heart beat, but I felt every inch as far away as I did when he was at war.  For a while, he shut himself off completely.

            But that time has passed and we’ve been so inconceivably happy for a little over two years now.  Needless to say, Nate left the service.  He’s currently studying for a degree in creative writing, but is seriously thinking of going into counseling.

            And I am about to enter my second year at Suffolk University like I’ve always dreamed.  He and I share an apartment in the heart of Boston.

            When I was a little girl, I never pictured big white weddings or meeting prince charming.  I dreamed of law school.  But against my will, my head was silenced and my heart threw me into the kind of romance I’d only ever read about.

            I get to spend each day with the man I love.  I get to call him my husband.  We were granted the second chance of a lifetime—literally—and with it, we’ve built a stable marriage, a loving household and maybe someday we’ll be able to combine our best traits and create life. 

I believe the golden thread of the future has already been spun and woven into a canvas.  The structure has been set for us and now it sits on an easel and waits.  Paint cans surround us and clean brushes are clutched within our fingers.  We’ve been given the colors.  What we paint is up to us.  

 

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