When it comes to writing fiction–which I simply do not write enough of–I believe in the “romantic ideal.” Be it a screenplay, stage play, short story, or novel, the romantic ideal is about telling a story that has a happy ending. One phrase that really describes the romantic ideal is this one: “They lived happily ever after.” “Good always triumphs over evil” is another phrase I think describes the romantic ideal.
And this is the way it should be, because this is what everyone in life wants most of all. Love and happiness. And the triumph of goodness in life. If you don’t, then you really shouldn’t be reading my blog. You should probably segue over to any Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck wannabe’s website and roost there. But not here. Here, you will find predominately mushy love and happiness and goodness stuff. In fact, herewith is a short story I wrote that totally embodies the romantic ideal. It’s called “Secret Admirer.” And if you’re a secret or public admirer of the romantic ideal, rest assured, you are at the right blog.
” S E C R E T A D M I R E R ”
“Is it you? My secret admirer?” the faint voice whispered.
“My God! Emily! You’ve regained consciousness and come back! It’s…it’s a miracle!”
It felt kind of foolish saying this, but what other words were there in such a moment? My God, I thought. Five years! Five long years of waiting and praying for a miracle. For prayers were answered sometimes, were they not? And if this was not a miracle, then what could it possibly be?
I quickly stood up and looked outside the cubical to see if Emily’s parents were nearby. They had left their daughter’s curtained room a few moments earlier before I began reading poetry to her–an activity I enjoyed doing during each of my visits. But this time, only a few minutes of reading had elapsed when Emily had suddenly awakened and spoke for the first time in five years.
“Is it you?” she asked again. Her eyes were now wide open and gazing at me. Also for the first time in five years. I had not found Emily’s parents in the corridor outside, so I immediately returned to sit beside Emily’s bed.
We had been regular visitors, Emily’s parents and I. And the three of us came twice a week to talk, read and pray to the comatose figure that lay upon the hospital bed– unresponsive and seemingly unaware of our attentions. But somehow we managed to maintain faith and never give up hope, all the while believing that she would one day recover from her coma.
Five years earlier, Emily had been the innocent victim of an automobile accident, resulting in the death of the other driver and minor injuries to passengers in both cars. Strangely enough, and since we shared residence in a small Boston subhurb, I was only a few blocks away when the accident occurred. Amazingly, it was I who first arrived at the scene only moments after the accident occurred, and because of this I was able to pull her from her car which had burst into flames seconds after impact.
Superficially, she had only suffered some minor cuts and abrasions. But a head injury had left her unconscious the moment I found and removed her from the burning vehicle. The doctors, of course, were unable to revive her, and could not explain if her tragic condition was the sole cause of physical or emotional trauma. Their prognosis was simple: either she would at some sudden moment regain consciousness, or remain in a coma and on life-support, perhaps for the rest of her life.
And yes, even after five years, we kept faith. Of course there were friends and other admirers from the neighborhood and her school who initially came to visit and share their prayers with us.
But time can surely try one’s loyalty and test one’s faith. So after the first year, visitors came less and less to visit Emily and pray at her bedside. And for a while, the few who continued to come, came only to offer respects or to offer moral support to Emily’s parents. Their diminishing visits and the dreary passage of time seemed only to strengthen my faith and resolve I knew I would always possess. But I wasn’t judgmental nor thought I was a better person for having kept faith longer. What was important was knowing that my feelings for Emily had not and would not diminish. And no matter what, I knew I would always remain Emily’s secret admirer. Though this was a secret only her parents and I shared.
“It is you, isn’t it?” she softly asked. Her eyes found me seated near the bed. I immediately moved my chair closer and clasped her hand in mind.
“Yes, it’s me. How…how are you feeling?” I didn’t know what else to say at this moment. I was still in shock! It was unbelievable and more than the strongest faith could have ever expected.
The two of us had never spoken to each other before the accident and at the time I was but a stranger to her, in the neighborhood and at school. To me though, and the very moment I first laid eyes upon her, I fell in love with her and knew I could never love another.
“What is this place? Where am I?”
“Don’t you know? Don’t you remember what happened?” I cautiously asked. She appeared revitalized and like one who had just awakened from a good night’s sleep. Inexplicably, she looked as young and beautiful as the first time I saw her–neither aged by time nor physically altered in any manner by her long illness.
“What’s wrong? You’re…you’re crying,” she observed.
“Emily, you’ve been asleep…in a coma…for…for…”
“I know,” she said gently, placing her hand upon mine once more. “I remember now… everything. The accident…it was a…”
“Don’t think of it.”
“No, it’s okay. I’m not afraid. I’m all right now.”
At that moment, Emily’s parents came back into the room. They stopped, and quietly closed the curtains behind them. Expressions of wild surprise and unexpected joy filled their faces; and exultant tears fell from their eyes. The cubical was dark and Emily did not see them enter; so she did not know that while she and I continued our conversation, her parents stood silently at the entrance and would wait until our special moment was past and theirs would begin.
Suddenly, Emily stared into my eyes–as if recognizing an old friend for the first time. “It was you all those times…reading to me, talking to me and giving me strength? It was you and Mom and Dad.”
“I know who you are. You’re the one who’s always telling stories and reading poetry to me. The one who kept praying for me to come back. You’re… you’re my secret admirer, aren’t you? I remember hearing you say it.”
“Yes, that’s me. But foremost…your friend.”
“So, I am not alone. I was never alone, was I?” she whispered.
“No. You were never alone.” I replied.
“Thank you. Thank you, so very much. Oh, I have waited so long to see you. For so long I have heard you talk to me and read to me and tell me how much you loved me. It was this devotion, this loyalty, this…this love which gave me the strength and courage to return to life. And all the same I have learned to feel for you was also enough to bring me back. So that now, finally, I could tell you.”
“For five years, dear Emily. For five, long years, we have waited,” I said.
“Yes. For five, long years I have been here in a coma, but always hearing you read and pray to me and…and remaining my secret admirer. For five, long years I have felt your presence…while drawing strength from your faith. And all this time you have been in my dreams. All this time I’ve been waiting to finally awake and…and be with you!”
“This is all I’ve ever hoped for, Emily,” I cried.
She smiled, and continued: “Well, just as you have confided in me, you should know that from the very beginning when I first heard your sweet voice and right up to this very moment as I now see you for the first time, that you’ve always had a secret admirer of your own!”