The theme for this short story challenge was “Twist of Fate”:


Janette watched out the window as the rolling hills blurred into wisps of flowing hues of green. The ticket carrier came by for her ticket, again. He’s visited her seat four times now but has seen the far away look in her eyes and let her be with her thoughts. She was lost in her bliss.

“Ma’am, I need your ticket, please, and I will leave you be for the rest of the trip.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I’ve just had so much on my mind. I’m getting married next week!” The ticket carrier looked startled. It wasn’t often he heard of an 80 year old woman getting married.

“Married, ma’am? Who’s the lucky gent?” he asked, not sure if his question was rude, but he was intrigued. His own grandmother, who never married, spoke often of her long lost love. His only wish for her was to be reunited, but it never came to pass before her time came to visit the good Lord above.

“Oh”, she sighed, bringing him back from his memories of his grandmother. “He is the love of my life. He always has been. We met when we were 17 and it was love at first sight, but then he left for the war, and I never heard from him again.” Her eyes lowered and he could see she was reliving an old pain, one that he saw etched in her eyes, deeper than the deepest sea.

His grandmother had the same look when she spoke of her Dale. In fact, he was noticing such striking similarities to his grandmother and this woman. She, too, lost her Dale in the war, and she carried that pain with her all her long life. “How did you reunite, if I may ask?” he said.

“Well, my dear boy, I was reading the papers the other day and I saw his obituary. All these years I thought he had died in the war. And his obituary read, ‘Oscar Valenti, 86, veteran, no surviving family. Lost his one true love years ago and never recovered.”

The woman’s eyes welled up with tears, but the boy persisted, “but ma’am, you said you were getting married?”

“Oh, yes, dear boy. I promised him before he left that I would wait for him to return to me. I have been ill for many years and my soul has longed to return home, but my heart has been anchored here, awaiting my beloved. Now that I know where he is, it is time for me to join him, for eternity.”

With that, the woman turned her gaze out the window again, and the ticket carrier left her with her thoughts once more. “My dear Oscar” she whispered. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she closed her eyes on this world for the last time.

~Brenda Barnhart

Copyright © 2004 Brenda Barnhart