"THREE" : A Short Story About Real Love
by Judson Greene
There was a man. He loved a woman. With all his heart, and his heart was full. On a close day in the off-season he asked her a question, “Will you marry me?” She said, “Yes.” He asked her, “Do you know why I ask this?” She said, “I think I do, but I’d like to be sure.” He took her hand in his, and he squeezed it …1…2…3…times. And with each squeeze a word, “…I…love…you.”
The date was set. But the date was found to be too long. So it was set again. But was found to be too long again. So the date was reset again. And finally the day came. After delicate words and carefully set phrases the vicar finished, and a kiss was had. After they were hugged goodbye by more relatives than they knew, and pelted with rice, the man and the woman left in their little green car. The man took the woman’s hand in his and squeezed it…1…2…3 times. And although he didn’t say a word, she knew that he loved her.
And time went at an unsafe speed, and found them a year later, with a child, although the child had not yet been born. And the man and the woman who had been happy to the brim, overflowed with joy. And they prepared their lives for the child. And the mother of the woman came, and the mother of the man came. And clothes were bought, and toys, and diapers, and anything else the mothers could get their hands on. And though this was the happiest of times words carry weight, all words, but, especially doctors words.
And the woman no longer had a child in her. And the cup of joy was poured out and refilled with a less pleasant substance. And the woman cried, she cried the mist of Rachael: Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. But the man came and comforted her. And he spoke soft words to her. And he took her hand in his, and he squeezed it …1…2…3 times. And although he didn’t say it, she knew that he loved her.
And this event was not content to perform itself once, but several times. Again and again. And more weighty words came from the doctor: “Stop.”
And the man and the woman obeyed. And the man squeezed her hand again …1…2…3 times. Time rushed by. The winds of time that no man can alter, and time found them several years later with a child of six weeks, although this child was from South Africa. And when the man and the woman received the child the man took the woman’s hand in his and squeezed it …1…2…3 times, and she knew that he loved her. And the child grew and was found to be weak, and sickness chased the child for many days until it caught up with the child and tagged it. And the child was set into the ground, and the plans of man failed again. And the man and the woman wept, for their joy had been removed again. And the man squeezed the woman’s hand …1…2…3 times, and she knew that he still loved her.
And another child was found for them and hopes went up. And they went to fetch the baby, but words carry weight. But the words on this occasion came from a single mother. A single mother who had changed her mind. A single mother, who was a bruised reed, and scarred by the world. A world where there are debts, and a world where there are unjust men. But, just the same, a single mother who loved her baby, although she could not afford her baby, she kept it just the same.
And the man and the woman looked, and hoped, and prayed. And in the swift movements off time they were given an infant son from a mother who liked money better than children.
Time moved again, and in 17 years found them again. This time they had a son, a young man, but the young man was without respect and he was ungrateful for his parents who were almost past middle age. For the son did not realize how much his parents loved him. And ungrateful he remained until he had flown the nest. And the man and the woman found themselves alone one morning in a silent house, and knew that the baby they had worked so hard to receive would not come back. And the man took the woman’s hand in his and squeezed it …1…2…3 times, and she knew that he loved her.
But now, the man and the woman were old. And the man found raw meat in his dresser. And he questioned his wife about it. But neither of them knew how it got there. And the man found his socks in the deep freeze. And he questioned his wife about it. But neither of them knew how it got there. And the man found the newspaper in the refrigerator. But he did not question his wife about it. But instead he questioned the doctor who carried more weighty words.
For the woman was found to be sick. Sick, not in body, but in mind. And the woman’s mind waxed worse. And she was taken from the man and placed in a white room with a sign over the door that read, “229”. And the man went and visited the woman and he talked at her, with no response. And as the man prepared to leave he looked back at her and said, “I love you.” But the woman did not know him. And the man felt emotion bubbling up in him in the form of tears and he hurried out of the white room, out of the hospital, ashamed of his tears he placed his hands over his face. And his hands obscured the large truck that had been sent to the incorrect hospital with a load of canned prunes. And the man met the bumper of the truck-“Sir, stay calm. You’ll be OK, just stay calm and try not to move.”
The voice came from a figure that was leaning over the man’s hospital bed. The figure was blurry and dressed in white. The man knew in the back of his mind that the figure was lying, so he used some of his last breath to ask one last request,
“Bring… her… 2… 2… 9.”
A nurse was sent and returned with a confused woman who was sick in mind. And the man tried to talk but breath failed him. But he mustered the last strength that pulsed through his veins, and he took her hand in his and squeezed it … 1 … 2 … 3 times. And he breathed his last. And although he didn’t say a word, the woman, though she knew very little… knew that he loved her.
A moving short story by my nephew, Judson, age 15. February 14, 2010
Posted with permission.
- Martha Greene