When I had met her, the world had still been whole. We were only five years old, very far away from wanting a relationship like the one we grew up to have, and far too young to worry about anything but throwing daisies at each other in the field behind her house. We went to the same school, and eventually started dating in our late teens. I told myself that I would never agree to a long-distance relationship, but somehow Sara made it seem worthwhile.
Yes, we went to different universities, you’ve guessed correctly. She went to study Journalism on the other end of the country, I went to study Medicine. We said even then that, once uni was over, we’d move in together, finally live together, and maybe even start a family. I wanted to marry her. But of course things never turn out that way.
We finished our degrees, me many years after Sara had done. She began working for a newspaper, and found her interest in war journalism there. By the time I graduated she was already signed up to follow an acclaimed journalist right into the war zone. ‘Exciting’, she called it. Said it was important both to her and to everyone here who didn’t realise how devastating the fight really was. I wanted to stop her but I had no right. We had hardly seen each other over the last few years, who was I to tell her which path to chose in her career?
No, she didn’t die. Things never went that badly wrong, thank God. Although, it was years before I saw her again. She did well, over there, bringing news of the war to us. I did relatively well over here, working in a hospital to save lives but long since having realised that I couldn’t save them all. Sara once told me that she wanted to do the same thing, over there, in her war zone. She wanted to save everyone, all the wounded soldiers and children, but she knew she couldn’t even save the one.
It’s been thirty years since I’ve last seen her. The woman I had wanted to marry. We have both slipped up here and there over those thirty years, if you can even call it that. Both of us were married to our careers, there hadn’t been any room for the other. And, finally, we were both only human. I have forgiven her, because what else could I have done? I believe she has done the same for me.
Today, for the first time in a long while, she is taking two weeks off work. More importantly, she is coming back home. To the small town where we both grew up and threw daisies at each other. I will surprise her, I think. She is coming to see me in two days time, but I’ll surprise her today.
I doubt she will still be the woman I once wanted to marry, but maybe I can still love her nonetheless. A small part of Sara will still be here, somewhere. And it is that part I’ve been dying to see again for thirty years.
All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.
For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.