Authors: L. Duarte
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To Catch a Falling Star
Copyright © 2013 by L. Duarte
Cover design by Sarah Hansen of Okaycreations
All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Table of Contents
To my husband and children
TIM TUGS MY hand and yanks me out of the group. “Hey, what are you doing?” I ask, whispering.
“Shhh,” he hushes me.
“Where are we going? We’re gonna lose the others.”
“Just shush and come away with me,” Tim orders with a dimpled grin. I glance back, and see our group already sitting by the fire on the beach. I want to join them, but I can never say no to Tim.
Obediently, I follow him. I’ve followed him since I was five. We met during my first week of kindergarten. I fell in love right after I busted my ass on maroon-hued wood chips. Yeah, cheesy, but it was love at first sight.
It was an early September afternoon. Little lungs that bubble with life burst into giggles, laughter, and screams. A warm breeze swirled the innocent sounds of childhood throughout the playground. Wearing pigtails, rosy cheeks, and hot-pink All Star Converses, I played with my best friend Tanish. Then DJ and Mark pushed us off the seesaw. Before I had time to react, Timothy appeared and punched DJ on the nose. I never confessed to this, but I was about to yell at him for playing Don Juan. That was before his big blue eyes stared down at me and, with a concerned voice, he asked, “Are you all right?” At that moment, I forgot the little speech running in my mind. He reached down to help me up and I knew then that I had found my mate.
“Careful,” he says, pulling me back to the present. He assists me as I climb over the trunk of a fallen tree.
“They’re gonna worry about us.” In between giggles, I inhale the sweet smell of mango as we navigate through a maze of tropical trees.
“We’ll be back before they notice our absence.”
My legs ache as I struggle to keep up with his long strides. We are thirteen, but Tim has gotten very tall. This is our first mission trip. We are building a schoolhouse in a small village on the southern coast of Jamaica.
“Here,” Tim murmurs, halting under a tree.
I search the area, but can’t identify anything special.
“What?” I frown.
“This tree. It’s called
,” he says. I glance up. Dark-green branches mantle over us, granting us solace. “It’s the hardest, heaviest hardwood known on the planet we inhabit.” That’s how Tim is. He always knows random facts.
I indulge him with my brightest smile. Truth is, I love that he’s so smart. Heck, I love everything about this boy. Patches of moonlight filter through the leaves and cast a golden light on Tim’s face.
’ is Latin for ‘tree of life,’” he explains. His beautiful face turns serious. “Melody, ever since I saw your tenacious face on that playground I’ve meant to ask you this. But before I ask you, I need to come clean. On the day when we met, I knew you could have defended yourself from that jerk. But I wanted to be your knight in shining armor. I rushed to help you, even though from a distance I saw in your eyes that you would beat the crap out of him.” He inhales a deep breath and shoves his hands in his pockets as he kicks the dusty ground around us.
“Since you are coming clean…” I stare up at him. “I have to confess, I was about to tell you off. But when I saw your beautiful face, I wanted you to like me.” I giggle.
“Will you marry me?” he asks quietly, as if under his breath.
“Tim…” I blink repeatedly. We are thirteen. “Yes.” I flash a smile. “Yes, Tim. I’ll marry you.”
He lets out a long breath of air. “God, it feels so good to get this over with.” He places a silver band on my finger. “This is not our real engagement ring. I promise I’ll buy you a real one when I’m old enough to get a job.” He kisses the ring on my finger.
“Do you think our parents will be okay with our engagement?” I ask.
“We don’t need to tell them just yet.” He shrugs. “When we are sixteen.” He hugs me and places a small kiss on my lips. I feel the fluttering of butterflies in my stomach.
“I love you, Timothy Fisher.”
“I love you too, Melody Miller.”
Unhurriedly and hand-in-hand, we stroll back to the beach. Tim holds my sandals. I savor the delicious tickling of sand slipping in between my toes. The round yellow moon, an accomplice to our mood, casts a dreamy soft light over the palm trees. Even the tropical air tints the island in romance.
I gaze up at Tim. My heart flutters in my chest, as if it is ready to take flight. Waves crashing against the shore are faintly muffled by the giggles and whispers of our friends gathered around a crooning fire. It’s one of those perfect moments in my life.
Tim and I exchange a secretive smile. We lounge on the soft sand. Tim puts his arm around my shoulders. I feel safe, but I also feel that life is the most thrilling adventure that there is.
I SNAP MY eyes open. My bedside clock tells me it’s five thirty. In a half hour, the alarm will ring. It’s a half hour until my coffee machine, which is set on automatic mode, sputters the routine morning coffee. This is my half hour of silent depression. For a half hour, I can be free to mourn, to cry, or just to lie here feeling sorry for my lame ass.
Hugging my pillow, I gaze at the violet-blue sky out my window. Birds greet me with their chirping. The branches of a maple tree hypnotically sway its leaves my way. I like daydreaming. I like staying in my mind, lost in my thoughts. When I was young, I spent hours projecting how thrilling my life would be. I never considered I was going to grow up to a mediocre existence.
Of course, back then I had Tim. Life was vibrant. When I had Tim, I knew nothing bad was ever going to happen. And, even better, I was bound to have an exciting life.
But a soul-crushing entity called death killed my dreams. Now all I have are remnants of the memories of my great love. Darkness and pain have been cast upon my heart, tearing from me all excitement.
I’ve always been ordinary. In fact, it’s as if I’ve been trapped in a maze of average. I’m average height, average GPA, average family, average weight, average IQ, and average, medium-length brown hair. Two parts of me are notable. One is my eye color, which is green with slivers of gold and orange. Yes, they’re slightly weird. The other part regretfully distinguished is the anatomy of by behind. My ass is huge. Mom tells me it is my Latina heritage. I say to hell with it, why can’t I be average there too?
But Tim tipped my scale of excitement, stirring me to a thrilling existence. All is dull without him.
I grew up believing in fairy tales. Tim proved me right. I met him when I was five. Kissed him for the first time when I was thirteen. And married him when I was twenty. I never doubted that our story’s last line would be, “And they lived happily ever after.” But in the second year of our marriage, ten days before our daughter Ella was born, Tim was ambushed and killed in the mountains of Afghanistan.
I don’t want to navigate through life, depressed and fazed out. But life sucks, and I wonder if this is all there is to it. The ache of my soul is so intense that at times it threatens to absorb reality. And I’m lost in the midst of this vast sea of pain. But being miserable is not the worst part, fear is the bane of my existence. I’m afraid to fail as a mother. Ella deserves better.