Graphic designed by Kelly DeBie.
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh and final fictional post in a continuation that outlines the bittersweet story of Leila, Keith and Billy. Here are the previous posts/chapters in chronological order.
#1 Fictional Friday: Her Billy
#2 Fictional Friday: Our Billy
#3 Fictional Friday: Letting Go of Billy
#4 Fictional Friday: Their Leila
#5 Fictional Friday: Leila & Keith…Rekindled
#6 Fictional Friday: Leila & Keith…An Affair to Remember
The next set of weekly fictional stories will begin in March. Without further ado, here’s to new beginnings…
Leila had finally opened her heart. Only to have it shredded. Now, she bled openly. Any inkling of pride now peeled away. She was raw for all to witness her hurt and pain.
She lay frozen in the hotel bed for most of the day following the news that rocked her world: Keith’s secret life revealed. In the hopes of breaking the hours of cold silence with just a room away, she continued watching the classic romance movie “An Affair to Remember.”
She bitterly soaked in the passionate moments between Carey Grant and Deborah Kerr. She thought this was the same type of love she shared with Keith.
Her body was aching and quivering – as if her system sensed the emotional stress from her wounded heart. She attempted to fight the urge to close her drooping eyelids. Relenting, she knew the dream was coming. It always did when facing significant trauma.
The dust danced down the desert gorge. The shoeless young boy walked slowly while poking a stick at rocks alongside the dirt road. In a high-pitched chant, he echoed a song of hope.
He approached a woman slumped on the side of the road wearing a sheer Burqa. He longed to see some part of her face. As he walked closer, a man from nowhere with oversized strong hands grabbed his wrist. Leila recognized the large hands as her father’s.
The boy struggled to get lose from his grip, but was overpowered. The woman still remained stoic and motionless. The boy screamed for help as the man drug him like an animal carcass down the dusty road.
There was a rumbling sound as if a herd of elephants were headed down the desert gorge. In the distance, an enormous tidal wave roared towards the crevasse. The boy and man stood still as the wall of water headed towards them. The woman finally looked up, her eyes darting with fear. Leila remembered those eyes. They were the eyes of her mother. As the little boy screamed to her, “Mamma, mamma, mamma!” The boy lunged and turned his face. Leila recognized the messy brown hair, pouty lips and soft brown eyes as her big brother Mikie. Within a few seconds, the water swept through the gorge tossing all three of them like miniature toys.
Leila sat up in a sweat, her heart racing, she let out a gasp – as if she had been holding her breath through the giant wave. This same dream began the night she learned her brother had been killed in a roadside bomb on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The dream was so real. Drowning in doubt. Drowning in fear.
Still breathing heavy, the phone rang.
“Uh, hello,” Leila answered.
“Mom?” asked the voice on the other line.
“Mom? It’s me, Billy,” he said.
Leila felt sluggish and lethargic.
“Honey, is everything OK?” she asked.
“Fine, mom. You didn’t call me this morning like you promised,” Billy explained.
“Is everything OK, mom?” he asked.
No, everything isn’t OK, she thought. This wasn’t the time, or place to tell Billy of Keith’s betrayal. Of her broken heart.
“Fine, honey,” she said. “How’s school going?” She made weak attempts to shift the conversation. “Can I talk to Dad?” Billy asked.
“He’s busy right now, “ she said, her voice cracking. Billy could sense something was wrong. She finally spilled the details of the photo – the deception. Her suppressed beliefs and doubts about being incapable of unconditional love now became reality.
Billy was clearly shaken by the revelation of his long-lost father leading a double life. Reassuring Billy that they would get through this together, she offered to catch the first flight out to New York from Kauai.
She picked up the phone to call the airline when there was a knock at the door. It was Keith. Through the knocking, she heard the final line from their favorite movie…
“If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, right?” said Kerr to Grant.
She sprinted to the door, flinging it open.
Coming into her part of the hotel suite, he pulled open his wallet. He handed Leila a small scrap of old newspaper. It was the obituary of his family with a faded photo of woman holding a little boy.
Leila swallowed to avoid throwing up. Now, she felt as though she had betrayed Keith again by not believing in their love.
She reached for his hand. “I am so sorry, babe,” she said.
They embraced. She felt closer to Keith now than ever. Their relationship was in a deeper place where beliefs and doubts together can create a sane, magical world of new beginnings.
Writing Prompt: This week’s writing prompt from our Fearless Fiction Femmes Leader Molly Field was a visual prompt:
Art by Barbara Kruger.
Be sure to check out my fellow Fiction Friday Femmes Fatales (lots of “Fs”) — many of whom are writing their hearts out with the same fictional prompt: