Last Friday was my birthday. Many times, the stories that I write have a lot of reality immersed within them. Sometimes that means the stories say something, if you really take a long look at them. Other times, the words just are what they are, the words not meaning much of anything. But they still make up a …
An envelope lies upon a table: a simple white envelope, the sort of thing that is about the right size to hold a card. Upon that envelope lies a simple blue pen, the sort of thing that no one takes a moment to consider if, for example, they were using it to write something in the card.
Beneath the envelope lies the card. It is a simple thing, something you might find in a shop. Thin cardboard, some sparkles stuck to the front, some sort of prose written upon the cover. The prose is, of course, not capable of saying what the one who picked the card wants to say, but, if nothing else, it is a start. Within the card itself, hidden from view, there might be some words written. The words are ones that mean something to the one that wrote them, but also to the one the card is meant for.
But the card is unfinished, the words incomplete, the meaning not fully formed.
For the pen suggests that the one that had been writing the card wasn’t able to finish, that something took the writer away from the moment.
All this lies upon a table near a window, the light from outside the room cascading within and illuminating the card, the envelope, and the pen. But the light cannot make the missing words form, the thoughts unfold, or, the story be told.
She stands there now, looking at the collection, thinking about the one that was to write the card, to share her thoughts. It is a paused moment in a life, an instant when the story waits for the next thing to be.
The card promises that there are words to be read, something to be seen, but she finds herself not willing to look, not willing to disturb the frozen moment in time. The story is unfinished, and to look upon the words would be something of a poor thing to do, she believes. So she stands there, not in the beam of light that encompasses the table, the card, the envelope, the pen, and, she notes with a sigh, the chair that awaits the one whom it belongs to.
Her Eternal enters some moments later, saying nothing, for really what words can possibly be said between them that a look, a thought, a slight expression of body language they both know so well cannot have already expressed. This was to be a day that had some happiness within it, a day when, for a moment, there might be some laughter, some joy, some … something. There’s a feeling of things not being right, a feeling that this feeling will grow, will turn into other things, and this one moment, this singular day, could have been something more, but will now be something else.
This moment, this story, isn’t about all of that, however.
This story is about this moment.
The phone rings. She fumbles for the call. His hands cup hers, he smiles, and there is a long moment when the phone rings and neither does nor says anything. Then she answers the call, as she always does: with a happy greeting, sharing only the warmth of her love for the soul that is calling on this day. There is an affirmation that things are fine, that both she and her Eternal will be there shortly, of course.
Some words are spoken, she holding her hand over the phone so the quiet sniffles cannot be heard—at least, she hopes so. When the wish is shared, it is a moment when she would rather break out in tears, crying, expressing everything that she is holding inside now.
Managing to keep the sadness from her voice, she gives the phone to her Eternal before turning away and dealing with the tears that are coming now. She listens as he talks about their day, the cake, which they are going to keep until the callers have returned home. He manages, she thinks, much better than she did in holding his voice steady, to keep the callers’ spirits up and hopes alive. He hands the phone back to her and she hears the question that she didn’t want to have to answer. Has she opened her card?
She tells the truth: no, she hasn’t. When asked why, her answer is that the card will be there when the one they care about is home. The story in the card will be finished, they will be there when the card is opened, the story read, the tears shed, whenever that will be.
Most of all, she manages with a small laugh, the cake will be waiting too.
Soon, far too soon, the call ends, the connection is broken, but only that of the phone call. All else remains; for family is, after all, family. She is held by her Eternal, for a time, the two not saying anything, just looking at the pen, the card, the envelope and the empty chair until it is time to go.
And so, this is Tera’s birthday.
Save one last thing. The story doesn’t end here. This is only a small part of the day. There is comfort in the words of her family, of her Heart, her Love, her Legion, her friends and family that know her as Tera, or as the Queen of the Succubi, or a Sister, or a dear friend or something more.
Perhaps that is being called someone’s Daughter.
Sometimes the best gift is the one that costs nothing but can never be lost, broken, or fade away, the gift that costs nothing but shares everything.
It is the love, forever so. Because that is, after all, the story …