To Be or Not – A “Happily Ever After” Question

  • I have written a book. It is not yet published and still haunts me because of many reasons. It is about a widow unable to move on from her husband’s untimely death. Four years on, Tara still has no answers as to why Cole would be taken from her at twenty nine.One early morning as she dozes in her comfy chair in front of the fire with picture frame of him clutched to her chest, she wishes for the millionth time that she could share just one more day with him.

    As she slumbers, a voice weaves through her mind – her desire will come true. Upon waking, Cole, her beloved, walks out of the bedroom

    “Did you put the coffee grounds back in the fridge, babe?”

    Question: Can this ever be considered a romance? He must and does return to the afterlife. His best friend is commended to take good care of Tara–she gently taught the importance of moving on. Certainly not the traditional ‘happily ever after’, yet they are strongly attached as having a happily ever after- Cole’s best friend, Tara and the forever presence of Cole’s love in their lives.


    Cole & Tara – image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
    Photo: I have written a book about a widow unable to move on from her husband's untimely death. Four years on, Tara still has no answers as to why he would be taken from her at 29. </p>
<p>One early morning as she dozes with picture frame of him clutched to her chest, she wishes for the millionth time that she could share just one more day with him.</p>
<p>As she dreams a voice weaves through her mind - her desire will come true.Upon waking, Cole, her beloved, walks out of the bedroom </p>
<p>"What do you want with your coffee, babe?"</p>
<p>Question: Can this ever be considered a<br />
 romance? He must and does return to the afterlife. His best friend is commended to take good care of Tara--she gently taught the importance of moving on. Certainly not the traditional 'happily ever after', yet they are strongly attached as having a happily ever after- Cole's best friend, Tara and the forever presence of Cole's love in their lives.</p>
<p>Cole & Tara - image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
 Music piped through the speakers on her desk in an unintelligible drone. Tara stared out the window, across the garden to the barren tree on the hill. Cold and gray, the ceiling of cloud cover drearied the day. The birds didn’t seem to mind. They bobbed from branch to branch, peering furtively at the ceramic tray mounted on a post in the center of a round of river rock.
Dinner on a plate. That was the way the neighborhood tabby saw it. He sat under cover of shrubbery hoping he could leap the ten meters to the birdbath before any unsuspecting sparrow or finch took to the air. 
Such are the dreams of dreamers.
Through the lens of hope and deprivation all creatures great and small slip into this alternate reality. It is the place of meetings where the laws of time and space no longer apply. So strong are some dreams they take on a life of their own. Once in a great while one of God’s children sends a prayer, makes a wish to a place between here and now and what could be. The universe shifts in just the right way, encompassing the very essence of thought, dreams and love.
When that ever so rare happenstance occurs a soul may be allowed to experience…

One more day.

Fast as a streak, the tabby launched into the air and caught the hapless sparrow with the swipe of a claw. The struggle was short. Mouthing the flapping mass of feathers the cat skittered into the undergrowth. Tara leapt to the window, her moments of hesitation ineffective reaction to save the creature from the fate of natural order. Stomach dropping to her shoes, she placed elbows and hands against the glass. Her breath quickly fogged a circle. She pulled back looking through the haze as it cleared.
“Poor thing.” Her epitaph sounded hollow as she shifted her focus to the landscape. No sign of the mayhem remained. She pushed the French doors outwards. A flush of frigid air swept across her. Moving onto the wood deck, she galloped down the steps and towards the birdbath. A thin crust of ice clung to the sides of the shallow bowl, the water in the center a shivering reflection of the sky.
Turning away, she scanned the solitude of snow. The day was warming, the patches and drifts of last night melting. Her eyes came to rest on a graceful stalk of what had been a willowy weed in summer finery. Such an inelegant name…’cow parsley’. Now it was something of truly amazing beauty. Fragile stems star burst from the top of elegant stalks, the end of each an open basket of delicate fingers. In the center of every hold, a tuft of snow clutched by its host in icy embrace. Reminiscent of cotton, each cluster glowed brilliant white in the rays of the emerging sun.
Tara stared at the display. So brief, so fleeting the miracles of everyday. She held her breath and marveled at the serendipity of the moment. Scanning the thicket beneath a grove of birch, she searched for cat and prey. The feline was long gone with his trophy. Her heart ached for the struggling bird. 
A chill telegraphed through her, making her suddenly aware of the cold. Running hands along her arms, she turned back to the house. She closed the glass door behind her, and made for the kitchen, stopping briefly to warm herself at the fire.
A few minutes later she stirred milk into cold coffee, gaze scrolling the great room from behind the counter. The built in entertainment center occupying the far wall was filled with a combination of family treasures. The books her mother loved snuggled next to her own favorites. A ceramic statuette of a young girl stood at the end of the counter beneath the upper rows of shelves. Family photos leaned in frames clustered to the right. Grandma, Great Uncle Bert, one of Cleo the family’s cocker spaniel from years past.
Cole.
The frame that held his photograph differed from the dark walnut of the others. She had added it to the mélange a few months before his death.



All of them were gone, this grouping of shadowed individuals. All had been elderly when they passed. 
All except Cole.
Her throat constricted about the knot that formed every time she looked at him. Brown hair tossed in unkempt allure around his upturned face, his smile that could melt the frost in her heart with a single flash of sincerity, the spark of mischief in his blue eyes so easily mistaken for youthful impulsiveness. Cole was twenty-nine. At least he had been. 
Four years, thirteen days and nine hours. Tara knew the calendar of pain all too well. He died on a Tuesday, clutching her hand, covered by antiseptic white sheets in a hospital room filled with balloons, flowers, notes and cards taped to the wall, books strewn across the bed table. 
Leukemia wasn’t supposed to kill people. That’s what she had thought when he’d told her of his diagnosis.
“They can cure that now right?” The naivety of her query in those early hours made her cringe. Day one of the long battle. Day one of the end of her life as she knew it.
She abandoned her mug and walked across the room, eyes fixed to his image. Tilting the frame, she grasped the outside edge in reverence.
This photograph had been taken the day of their picnic in Regents Park. Full summer, the trees humming the season, every step along the open lawn heaven, his cheeks ablaze with colour, his hand in hers, basket of crackers, cheese and fruit in the other. She could still feel the soft grass beneath her feet as they walked from the packed dirt of the path toward the formal gardens.
With the BT tower as the only sign of the city behind them, the landscape ahead held nothing but green and floral abundance.
She drew in a deep breath, and could almost smell the cotton floss, the spicy aroma of roses and the rich bitter of coffee wafting across the garden from some nearby cafe.
She dropped into the reading chair near the fire. Clutching the frame to her chest, she closed her eyes.



Kaleidoscopic colors whirled about slowly in a beautiful array of bright and dark. A sense of peace filled her. She felt as though she could touch him in the liquid beauty of the world behind her eyes.
Humming…a deep baritone, lyrics from an old Sinatra song. Cole sang in haunting refrain, an echo resounding through her from a distance, yet so close she could feel it.
Her eyes welled with tears spilling across her cheeks. Tears of joy, not the bitter tears of grief
In the wee small hours of the morning
While the whole wide world is fast asleep
You lie awake and think about the girl
And never think of counting sheep
When your lonely heart has learned its lesson
You’d be hers if only she would call
In the wee small hours of the morning
That’s when you miss her most of all

Another voice interceded. Adolescent, female, pure, angelic, this voice soothed like eucalyptus opening the passageways to her mind.
“He will return to you.
Your time together seamless.
Your ardent dream fulfilled.
Awaken to the light of a new day.
The day.
The last word echoed thorough the endlessness of the liquid kaleidoscope and the colors faded to black.



****
Heavy eyelids lifting, Tara looked into the flames of the fire warming the room in its dance. Lyric light streamed through the French doors, bathing the honey oak of the floorboards in buttery glow.
The picture frame still held in her hand, rested in her lap. She lifted it, looking into his face.
“Did you put the coffee grounds back in the fridge, babe?”
She jolted in the chair. Cole swept by and into the kitchen, the spice of his aftershave trailing behind like an obedient puppy. Tara blinked hard, squeezing her lids shut, counting to three before reopening them.
*****
   Would you feel let down that Tara can not possibly live the standard romance “Happily ever After”? Or is this more mainstream fiction–A Nicholas Sparks look at the depth and power of eternal love?
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2 Responses to To Be or Not – A “Happily Ever After” Question

  1. Kady Winter says:

    This is the basic plot of one of the most romantic movies of all time in my book, “Truly, Madly, Deeply.” I’m am getting the distinct picture that “romantic” and “romance” are not the same thing in the publishing world. Is there a problem with publishing the book outside the “romance” genre if this particular work is a better fit in mainstream fiction?

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