Autumn Leaves

Twyla was the image of perfection for Liam. She could do absolutely no wrong.
He was in love with her creative, artsy, romantic personality. He loved her from head to toe. To the ends of the earth.
But her time was up.


1. Gone.

She was gone.
Three years together, and she was gone.
I couldn’t understand it. What I had witnessed... it made no sense.
She couldn’t be... could she?
Gone. Gone, gone, gone. No more. No coming back. It was over.
I was done.
She. Was. Dead.

“Betcha I can beat you there Liam!”
“No chance!”
We ran to the hill. Our place. She was gaining on me. I laughed.
“Is that the best you can-” It was then that she passed me, rolling down the hill and standing up dizzy, sprinting again and looking back at me, as I got to the hill and rolled down it, following her into the forest. She laughed.
“C’mon Liam! You can do better than that! Pick up the pace!” I started running harder and tackled her to the ground as we reached the clearing. She landed on top of me and I laughed, trying to catch my breath. She looked down at me with her round, sparkling green orbs.
“I love you.” she said for the first time.
I was beaming, I’m sure of it. “I’m in love with you,” I replied. She smiled and kissed my lips before laying at my side and looking up. The stars had just begun to come out.
When the first star showed itself, she said “Quickly! Make a wish!” She closed her eyes and her lips moved as she wished. I smiled, just watching. Captivated by her. She then opened her eyes and saw me looking down at her.
“You’re beautiful Twyla,” I said.
“You’re beautiful Liam,” she responded. And she turned toward me, kissing me.

I was crying. I couldn’t believe it. My only ever real love. She was gone. Gone forever. I knew it was bound to happen, but I didn’t think she’d be taken away that fast.
I played with the promise ring on my left ring finger. I wanted more but she wouldn’t let me marry her. We had been dating for two years by the time I asked. But I asked her after we found out. I told her that whatever time we had left, I wanted her to spend it knowing that I was only ever hers. She refused. She cried. She told me she didn’t want me to feel so tied to her. She wanted me to let her go when she left the earth. She didn’t want me to hold on.

I went into the hospital room with Twyla in it. She looked frail and her green eyes were dull. She had been crying. She had the bed elevated like a chair and was sitting up. They had been  running tests on her all day.
“Its a Desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor.” She said, tears streaming down her face.
I went over to her, hugging her and kissing her forehead. “What does that mean?” I asked.
She then whispered, “It’s terminal.”
My eyes went wide and I couldn’t breathe for a moment. “Terminal.” I whispered.
“Liam, I only have a year. Just one year,” she whispered. “Only one.”
I looked down at her, “but that can’t be right Twyla. It can’t be.” I looked at the clipboard at the end of her bed that said D-SRT. I shook my head. “This isn’t. You were just fine before.. you just got a little cold Twyla... it can’t be-”
“IT IS OKAY?” she yelled, then shook her head. “It is. They showed me and everything. Its too late to do anything either. I can’t do anything. All I can do is... die,”
“Twyla, no,” I walked over and sat in the bed with her, and she looked away, tears streaming.
“Liam, please. Just leave me. I’m doomed. Theres nothing you or I can do about it,” her tears streamed steadily, “Please, just leave me to die. Don’t put yourself through this. Just go.”
“Twyla I will NEVER, leave you.”
She cried harder and leaned against my shoulder, her tears soaking my shirt.
“I love you Liam.”
“I love you Twyla.”

Treatment was not kind to her either. She rejected food sometimes. She started taking 12 pills a day to help her immune system. When she started Chemotherapy, all of her long, beautiful, curly, dark hair started falling out. She always told me how ugly she looked and how much she hated the chemo, and how she wanted to get her hair back and look pretty again.
But she was always beautiful in my eyes. My beautiful Twyla. I smiled at the thought of her still. She got a wig. About the same color as her hair, and still curly, but shorter. She had liked it better long, but she couldn’t complain. She was just glad to look “normal” again.
“At least almost normal.” her voice echoed in my head. Why Twyla? Why not someone else?
Why not me?
I shoved the thought from my mind. I was in the hospital waiting room still. I needed to get home and get some sleep. Just some sleep was all I needed. I would be much better off with a well-rested mind.
I drove myself home, parking in the lot before walking up to my flat. I took one look at myself in the mirror. My face was starting to get some stubble on it, and I looked really tired. I hadn’t really slept. I had been at Twyla’s bedside in the hospital since she’d been admitted a few days ago. I had to bring her in because of her condition. I only ever watched over her. I didn’t want to do anything else. Just watch her. We talked all about our future together. She and I both knew that she was dying, but we didn’t let that stop us. We looked at houses near here online that were for sale, and she picked out a boy and a girl name for our first child. Ever Persephone for a girl, and Augustus Sebastian for a boy. She loved the romantic, indie, artsy names. She was an artist after all. That was one of the of the many reasons I loved her the way I did. When she failed to find the words she needed to express herself, she found a medium of art to do it through. She was the most expressive, creative person I knew. She always drew and painted what she was feeling.

I came back to the hospital. I didn’t want to leave, but her mom had come by and told me that I needed to go home and take a shower. I came into the room to see her sleeping, and her mother had her sketchpad sitting on her lap. I had the urge to run toward her and take it away from her. It wasn’t any of her business what Twyla was drawing! That was between she and I! She then held the sketchpad out to me, and I took it, looking at the drawing. It was her. Lying in her hospital bed. She had drawn me standing next to the bed crying over her, holding her hand, and on the other side of her bed, she stood with wings and a halo. It had been delicately shaded, and the angel figure was fainter than the rest of the picture. I looked up at her mom.
“She knows her death is coming Liam.” She looked hundreds of years older than her time. She never would’ve guessed that she would outlive her daughter. I put the pad down on the chair and hugged her mom.
“I know.” I said. I was close to Twyla’s mom. She always referred to me as her son-in-law. I felt her tear drops hit my shoulder, and she pulled away, wiping them with her sleeve.
“Please make sure she knows how much you love her Liam.”
“I will.”
“Promise me.”
“I promise.”
“Good. I have to go.” she sniffled and went to the other side of the room, picking up her things. “I’ll be back tomorrow. Tell Twyla I love her and that I went home.” She put a hand on my face and smiled weakly at me, turning and walking out.

I walked to my room with the memory still playing back in my head. I had a shower and brushed my teeth, getting into my empty bed. I exhaled shakily. I couldn’t believe it. I’d never get to hold her again. To breathe her in. To see her smiling face when I woke up next to her in the morning. I would never see her, round and bloated, swollen ankles and aching feet, carrying our Ever or Augustus inside her. I would never paint a bright yellow nursery with her in our brand new house.
She would never draw or paint or sculpt or design anything again.
We would never again lie together in the clearing, in our place, and look up at the stars.

Never again would she be mine.
But I would ALWAYS be hers.

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