Sunday, December 31, 2017

Stolen Moments

Stolen Moments

By Michael Cannata

He could still taste her goodnight kiss on his lips. It was a sloppy, wet kiss but it still made his heart race. His mood dropped from sheer happiness to utter despair as the door closed. He might get to see her next weekend. But they could never really be sure when the next time would come and they could steal a few precious moments to be together.

They had spent the last four years getting to know each other. Spending every chance they got together. The love between them had grown so great that at times just being with her left him breathless. It was as though he had lived in this world all his life, but until he met her, he had never really explored it. Every day they spent together she showed him something he had seen a thousand times before in a new and wondrous light.

But differences between their families had suddenly turned ugly. He was no longer welcomed at her home. Her mother had reached a point where her anger was out of control. He was forbidden to see her ever again.

His parents had also taken a strong dislike to her mother. They felt that she was being outrageously cruel. Their son was a good man. He loved her daughter with all his heart. Her decision to treat him in such a callous manner was horrible.

Fortunately, her aunt had decided that what was happening was too wrong to be ignored. When her niece came over to visit, the aunt would call him. Once the coast was clear, he would rush over and they would run into each other’s arms, holding each other so tightly that breathing was almost impossible. They would spend the evening walking, holding hands and talking about what had happened while they were apart. Sometimes they would drive around or just sit and snuggle while they watched a movie until it was time for him to leave again.

After the sad and tearful kiss goodnight, the door closed and the pain would come back. Again he would be alone. The ache in his heart wouldn’t ease until they could steal a few more hours. It was then that the resentment he felt for his ex-wife was the worst.

He could feel his heart breaking again. The same way it felt every time he had to sneak away like some thief in the night. He treasured all these stolen moments. He would recall every memory of their time together until they could be together again. The tears fell as he walked back to his car.

A father should never have to suffer such pain just to be with his child.

The Locket

The Locket
By Michael Cannata

               The locket dangled from his fingers. It flashed as it turned slowly in the cool evening breeze, reflecting the bright moonlight. He didn't need to open it to see the picture of the beauty it held inside. Soon he would be holding her in his impatient arms.

                She gave it to him on his tenth birthday. They knew then that they were meant to be together. They were born a mere two hours apart. They were wet nursed by the same women. They shared a common play space as infants. They were together most of the first days and months of their lives.

                They grew up together as children, before family and class became an issue, and they became fast friends. There was a special bond. Even before they could speak, they would cry angrily when they were separated. They played happily and contentedly for hours when they were together.

                 But she was the daughter of the rancher that his family worked for. When they were children it wasn't a problem. But as they grew older it became harder for them to find the time to be together. After all… they were different. She was free to enter his world but her world was forever off limits.  If anyone ever thought that they were more than friends there would be serious problems. His father would lose his job, maybe even his life.

                The friendship grew stronger and closer as they grew. The day came when they stepped beyond the limit of friendship and kissed underneath that tree. He understood the danger they were in every minute they spent together better than she. When he tried to suggest that her future, not theirs, was more important, her security, her destiny, her family, her world… she couldn't sacrifice that for just him and his love.

                She would have none of it. She couldn't ever feel as safe with anyone as much as she did when she was with him. She believed in his love. She knew he would never fail her. She trusted him. He was her heart and strength. He was the truest lover and closest of friends. She was alive only when she was with him. How could she ever lay with another man?

                They made the decision together. It would mean leaving everything and everyone they knew and loved behind. Together they held to the hope that, if time was good to them, someday they could return to the place they both called home. They would repair and reconnect with all the people that both loved them, yet stood in their way.

                Once free and far away from here they could start a life and family of their own. She had some money; he had all the skills a man needed to find work, despite his color or ethnicity.

                This would be the last evening they would have to meet secretly, hiding the passion from the prying eyes of neighbors and family. He had made all the arrangements. The horses and carriage waited under the tree where they had spent so many long hours dreaming of the day they could be free.

                He stood eagerly watching the road from the ranch looking for her sign. He watched intensely, so focused that he never heard the horses behind him until it was too late to act. He turned to look at the men that had come to kill him.

                "She won't be coming tonight, Josh." Her father spoke in a cool, yet angry voice. "She won't be coming here ever again. It's a shame her closest childhood friend won't be at her services. Word is that he packed up and was headed west somewhere. Word is he won't be coming back." 

                "Word is that you and her, you intended to spend eternity together. My family's honor, it's reputation was at stake. I had no choice. I'm not sure where she went when I killed my own daughter, but you won't be leaving this tree again. In a funny kind of way you'll both be together. Both of your lying deceitful souls will be spending eternity in the same hell you created."

                "I told both of you what would happen if I ever found you together. If you ever touched her…" The fathers face twisted into a disgusted sneer; "If she ever touched you!"

                He stared into the barrel of the shotgun her father pointed at him. He thought he heard her voice cry in some distant echo beyond the sound of the gunshot. In his final moment, he saw her face, every beautiful smile she ever gave him, embraced in one glorious memory.

                He lay dying alone under the tree. Speaking in a choked voice he called her name for the last time. But even as he died, he never let her go. The locket she gave him when they were children, children who knew everything about the passions but nothing of the perils of love, still dangled from his fingers.