Based on a true story. - This is a short story for the Love and Loss competition -


1. Revelation

Our blank faces avoided each others’ eyes, seeking consolation in the rippled woodwork of the bench we were sat on.

“Thanks for coming,” came his nervous, stuttering voice.

“We need to talk,” I said, daring a glance up at him. “About everything that's happened. This is killing me.”

His jaw set itself firmly in the wind as his fingers started jumping madly.

“You can go, I’m not making you do this.”

“You think I want this?” I caught his sinister expression. He suddenly sprung off the bench and shrugged. It scared me. He raised his eyebrows.

“Go then,” he said simply, his wide eyes bearing right into my face. “Just go. I’m not stopping you. You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to.”

My jaw dropped open: this was so out of character. Every inch of me was itching to spring up from beside him and run. I wanted to forget it all, forget him and forget the torture going on inside me.

“I can’t do that,” I murmured, “we need to talk.” I stressed this and hid my face once more, turning away from him as he bounced impatiently on his feet. He did not move and stayed swaying at the other end of the bench.

“So what do you want to say?”

My breath caught on its way out as I was stuck, paralysed. I had known this was coming, but the words would still not prepare themselves to come.

“You asked me to come. It was you who wanted to talk.”

“Like I said, you don’t have to be here, you can go!”

“Stop it!” I half cried, glaring at his rocking form. He looked back reproachfully.

“You say what you want to first.”

“I don’t know! I suppose I’m just sorry for everything.”

“Why are you sorry? It’s my fault!” His form collapsed onto the arm of the bench, his eyes narrowed, face twisted with confusion. His hands were still rocking wildly.

“It’s not your fault, for god’s sake!” I couldn’t think anymore, I was starting to tremble. “I’ve been the coward.”

He laughed, a piercing sound which tore at me.

“Coward?” he spluttered, “I’m the coward! I’m just a fool!”

“I avoided you. I ran away from you, I couldn’t cope with your feelings,” the words started to tumble out of my mouth. “You didn’t do anything. You’ve always been so kind to me, so honest, such a friend.”

I looked up to his taught face in search of some answer. The corners of his mouth were twitching as he in turn fumbled with his words.

“I’m just a fool,” he repeated. “I can’t blame you for anything you did: it’s not your fault.”

“I was spiteful!” I moaned, “I ignored you. Think of our friendship before? I just left you, I was too scared. You tried so hard to make it work and I ran away.”

His honest eyes blinked, and blinked some more.

“I can’t blame you for not believing the gods.”

“Do you know what,” my mind spun around madly, “neither do I. I was a girl, twelve years old and my future taken from me in a stupid prophecy. What I do blame myself for is hurting you so badly. I hate myself.”

“You?” his voice choked, “There is nothing to hate about you!”

“Please, don’t start!” I drew in my breath, as I knew what was about to happen. All the good things he thought about me were so wrong.

“You’re so…”

“Shut up, please!” I almost screamed, throwing my arms into the air. I nearly lost control. He drew back his gaze slightly and looked up to the sky.

“I’m sorry you couldn't feel anything. I felt the same at first, but then I prayed, I prayed so hard I think the gods gave the love to me. I feel it differently now. You prayed too, right?”

“Yeah,” I nodded softly, feeling the empty lie batter my gut. The memory was flooding back into my head.

“Do you know what a revelation is?”


“It’s almost like finding a different way of seeing things. Have you ever had one before?”


“Well I’ve had one.”

“Go on.”

“It’s… hard.”

“Go on.”

“I’ve been told something: by the gods.”

The wind started to batter my face as I pushed the memory aside. I swallowed a tear down, trying to keep my breathing steady.

“I’ve never wanted anything more,” I started, as his sunken face leered at me in my mind. “I would have given anything to love you, anything. You mean the utter world to me. Just not in that way,” his eyes were screaming at me, searching, clawing at my soul. “Maybe I’m too young? Maybe it’s staring me in the face? Maybe I’ve missed it all this time and it’s all my fault.”

“It’s too late now,” his voice was stuttering again.

“I’ve never known a better man. I don’t think I ever will. I’m sorry!”

“I don’t understand,” his faltering words wrenched at me. They were pleading, begging me.

“I can’t, I couldn’t, I’m so sorry!” this time a tear escaped me as I quickly wiped it away. “But it’s OK. I’m going. We can both start anew, find new lives. I want you to be happy.”

“All I want is for you to be happy.”

“I will be, if you are.”

He let out a sort of chuckle,

“At least we agree on something.”

“Can you just tell me one thing?” I asked, as a different emotion rose up in my gut. I didn’t recognise it at first. Then I saw it was a hint of anger. Before I could stop myself, I was flowing. “All these years I spent my life hating myself for not loving you. I’m guilty, I still am and I feel it. I would pine away my days wishing you weren’t even in my life. I wanted something normal, something where I didn’t matter, somewhere where I didn’t have to blame myself for your pain. But all that time, I think I doubted you too.”

“You know how I feel about you!” he cried, his brow creasing.

“Yeah, I think I do. But maybe you are the coward.”


“Never once have you ever said it to my face. Not like a man, never.”

“But you know. The prophecy is true, and has come true. All prophecies must.”


He tilted his head in frustration as the actions of his finger grew to a climax.

“I can’t tell you what to feel,” he said, hopelessly

“I feel nothing.” I almost spat. “The prophecy for some reason was not to be. We can’t understand it.”

“No we can’t,” he lowered his head as if in prayer. His eyes were closed in a momentary pain I could not feel. I was numb.

“So what you feel, you’ve just hidden it in some story. Just tell me now before I go, tell me to my face. Tell me like you mean it!” a sudden gasp escaped me although the tears held themselves at bay. I could feel my face tight and despairing, feel the sadness shown in my eyes. Finally, in response he brought his bloodshot eyes to meet mine. He took a moment, his mouth trying to form the words, stuck with where to begin.

“I love you.”

I did not see his mouth moving, just felt the force of the meaning in what he said pelt into my heart. A threatening tear splashed from my tired eye and ran down my face. Neither I nor he moved as I took my time to memorise his face. I was determined never to see it again. I slowly got to my trembling feet, as he rose with me, my weeping eyes still fixed on his. Our lives were going in new directions that day. I could feel the freedom welcoming me but the pain from the past was not letting me go. However, something from inside had lifted and changed from torment to sadness. It was better: I could go.

One corner of my mouth curled into a tiny, grateful smile as I nodded my head in acknowledgment. He had spoken what he felt. I had at least tried to explain. The pain from him would always be with me, but it had partly helped me grow in strength.

“I’ve been told something: by the gods.”

"What do you mean?"

"They told me that..."


"...our destinies are entwined."

"What do you mean?"

"We will fall in love, spend our lives together. I'm going to marry you.”

I had defied it. He had defied it. We were stronger people.

I turned from his silently crying form and faced a new direction. I would find my own love. I would not cause him any more pain. Perhaps one day I might learn what love actually is. Perhaps one day, if the gods allowed it, if I allowed it.

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