Together forever, no matter what life throws at us.
It’s a phrase used from the moment two people realize it’s true love, and it was no different for Steve and Hank. That instant spark when they first touch. The lingering tingle of their first kiss. Their family and friends told them the odds were against them, but they never questioned their love.
They built their life from that love. Stacking memories up brick by brick to house and protect what they cherished most -- each other. But one day Steve wakes up and Hank is gone. Now he must learn to move on without his one true love. People say time heals all wounds, but does it really? Can time ever mend a shattered heart?
Note: This short story was originally published in the charity collection, Love Is Proud.
I remember the day we first met. The day is forever engraved into my memory. The visions of the life we once had are flooding me. They drown my mind and my heart with sadness and an unending pain. You were twenty, and I was twenty-two. We were on break from history class. You were digging through your pockets for some change to get a cup of coffee from the vending machine. You had a cigarette dangling from your lips. The embers smoldered as you searched your pockets. I had been watching you throughout the semester. Your long, dirty-blonde hair fell around your face and shoulders. You were always unshaven and had thin, dark whiskers. You wore the bad-boy image to perfection. Your toned and well-developed body stretched the fabric of your black T-shirts. You wore black every day of your life. Funny how things like that just became part of the backdrop of a person. I remember staring one time at your all black outfit and wondered if your underwear was also black. I later learned your obsession with black went as far as your boxer-briefs.
When others would mention you they always referred to you as “the guy in black.” I don’t think anyone knew your name. Your ice-blue eyes seemed to pierce everything. We were complete opposites and the one reason I never talked to you. You scared me and thrilled me at the same time. I was the preppy one. The one with groomed black hair, clean-shaven and with a hint of Old Spice aftershave. My wardrobe consisted of dress shirts and sweaters, black dress slacks and dress shoes. I wasn’t scrawny but wasn’t by any means well-toned. Someone would have to scrutinize my body to find a noticeable muscle. You must have felt me staring at you that day because, for the first time, you spoke to me. You asked me if I had a dime. I dug into my pocket as I walked over to you. Our fingers touched when I handed to the dime. We lingered in the silence and in that split second, my life changed. I fell in love with and I never stopped loving you. I never will stop loving you.
We stood there without speaking, holding onto our respective side of the dime. We became lost in the moment. You smiled at me. I remember thinking you have a beautiful smile. It was a part of you I had grown to count on and to love. Your smile is where I always found hope and happiness. Your embrace is where I found comfort.
I asked you if you still wanted the dime, as you hadn’t taken it from me. You laughed. Your face reddened from embarrassment as you slipped the coin into the slot. The coffee poured down out of the machine, the cup followed. We laughed so hard I thought we would burst. You hit the coin return in frustration, and the dime appeared. You never did get the cup of coffee. When you handed me back my dime, I found out your name was Frank. After our moment in the break room, we were never apart.
I don’t think I ever told you, but I still have our dime. I’ve carried our coin with me every day since we met. I was afraid to let go of the dime, fearing you would go, too. I’m holding the dime right now, rubbing it between my thumb and forefinger. The old faded and warn surface has somehow become a symbol of the life we once shared. I’m not sure when or why I started rubbing the coin, perhaps somewhere deep inside of me I was hoping it would be my genie in the bottle -- if I rubbed the surface long enough, you’d come back to me.