I’ve been getting a lot of messages lately about The Ribbon Duet. I’m not sure if it’s been doing the rounds again with readers but the common theme is…The Boy and His Ribbon and The Girl and Her Ren broke their bookworm hearts and they don’t have the strength to read The Son and His Hope (Della and Ren’s son’s story).
And it got me thinking, I never shared a lot about The Son and His Hope as I don’t like spoiling things BUT if those who are afraid to read need closure on Ren and Della, this is the Short Story that Della writes (that her son, Jacob, finds long after she’s gone.)
The Son and His Hope is a book about love and loss, death and life, and I hope you like this chapter from Jacob’s book, including the Short Story by Della Wild.
THE SON & HIS HOPE
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2TCb7zY
Two remaining boxes.
One for when I got married.
One for when I had a child.
Our wedding had already happened.
The birth of our child was a few months away.
A gust of air blew through the room. I didn’t know where it originated from as the windows were closed. It wasn’t chilly like the autumn breeze outside but warm and imploring.
I didn’t want to.
I didn’t know if I could handle such things, but I owed the two people who had died to open them.
Ripping into the paper, I cracked open the first box.
Inside rested a small photo frame. Silver and simple, empty and needing one of the many photos Cassie took of Hope and me at our wedding.
A piece of paper fluttered to the floor.
Gritting my teeth, I picked it up and read.
Dear Wild One,
Congratulations on getting hitched.
If you’re anything like me, it would’ve been the best day of your life. Not because family and friends watched you pledge yourself to your chosen one, but because you’ve laughed death in the face. You’ve made a solemn vow that you will never be alone. Ever. You will always find each other now you are wed.
I’m so happy for you to find your other half to share your life with.
I love both of you,
Clearing my throat from a wash of emotion, I rushed to open the last box before I broke and had to go back to Hope. Before I had to see my wife, hug her close, and remind myself that all this pain was worth it.
To look at her rounding belly and know she created a miracle. To accept that sometimes miracles came to pass and sometimes tragedy came in its place. But through it all, we survived.
The paper ripped loudly on the final box, the lid tight over its contents.
Pulling it open, I tipped a silver bangle into my palm.
A bracelet for a baby.
Inside an inscription glinted: Live Wild. Love Freely. Be Blessed.
I clutched the precious metal in my fist as I read the last message I would ever have from my father.
But it wasn’t addressed to me.
It was addressed to my daughter.
The little person Hope and I were yet to meet.
Dear Baby Wild.
You are so loved.
You were born to parents who will lay down their lives for you.
You were created by love that no amount of pain can shatter.
You have the world at your feet, and I wish you every blessing and happiness.
The strength in my legs buckled.
I’d pushed myself too far, and I tumbled into my mother’s writing chair. Wedging my elbows on the desk, I breathed deep, using tricks the therapist had given me to stay in the present and not focus on all the things I could lose. All the scenarios that could go wrong. All the worries that drove me mad.
Slowly, my heart stopped racing, and I looked up again.
In the distance, amongst wildflowers slowly fading with autumn and trees turning orange, stood Hope. She had one hand on Forrest’s whither while she scratched the nose of a white mare called Snowy. A rescue horse turned heart horse that I trusted to protect my wife impeccably.
I stood to go to her.
To celebrate the news of our daughter and brainstorm names well into the night, only my boots nudged something beneath the desk, dragging my eyes to the darkness.
Another goddamn box.
This one bigger and heavier than all the rest as I bent to claim it from the floor.
Placing the silver bangle to the side, I hoisted the bulk onto the desk. My hands shook as I smoothed the lid.
Was it my place to open? Was it an invasion of my mother’s privacy?
I waited for a while. Paused for a breeze or a sign that I was permitted to see such things, but the air stayed still, watchful.
This house held so many secrets, but if it were to shelter a new family, prior history would have to be dealt with. Precious belongings would have to be stored in safekeeping, ready to make room for more secrets.
I told myself my curiosity was purely from a renovation point of view even though I knew whatever was in the box would butcher me.
Gritting my teeth, I opened the lid and raked a hand through my hair as I found hundreds upon hundreds of letters, all addressed to my father.
A few held just one lines, others multiple paragraphs, and some with sheets and sheets of news.
My mother had always been a writer. Her journaling was mostly why their love story was fashioned into a book, and instead of stopping a lifelong calling, Mom had turned to writing to Dad when he died.
The paper felt otherworldly as I claimed a small note and held it in the light.
My Dearest Ren,
It’s hot today.
Hot enough for a swim in a stream in some empty forest, just the two of us. I had a dream last night of our many camping trips—of you when you were just a boy looking after an annoying little girl. Remember those days? God, I do.
I wonder if we’ll have that again…when I find you.
I stopped reading, placing the letter face down on the desk.
It felt like an intrusion. It filled me with grief.
Scooping the massive pile of paper from the box, I placed the tower before me. So many notes. So many little snippets of her life she’d wanted to share with the ghost that watched over her. I wanted to hide them somewhere safe, but I reached for another, adding salt to my wounds.
Today is a hard day.
I miss you more than I can bear.
My heart lurched, tasting my mother’s sorrow.
Dear Beloved Ren,
Jacob adopted a new horse today.
They’re both as broken as the other, so one of two things will happen: they’ll end up killing each other or will heal together, but for now, they have a friendship no one else truly understands.
Jacob has called him Forrest.
There’s so much of you in him, Ren.
It’s unbearable sometimes.
Then again, there’s me in there too. His temper and stubbornness, for one.
Anyway, I have to go cook dinner.
I’ll see you in my dreams.
Another page fell from the stack as I pushed the letters neatly to the side. My eyes skimmed it before I could stop myself.
Hope is slowly winning, you’ll be glad to know. She’s not afraid of Jacob’s temper. You’d be so proud of the way she pushes him to be happier. I know she loves our son. And I love her. She truly is a Wild, Ren.
She belongs here, and I hope, one day, she officially becomes family.
Turned out, I’d kept her wish and fate’s design.
Hope was family. A true Wild.
With my wedding ring glinting on my finger, I ran my touch along the stack of letters.
Declarations of love and loss—a life my mother had to live without her husband by her side.
I had no idea what to do with them. They couldn’t be given away, and they definitely couldn’t be destroyed.
They would have to be protected and guarded—a talisman for our own love story; a reminder to adore each and every day, even if it killed us.
Bracing myself for yet more tragic notes to ghosts, I looked inside the box again.
Tucked at the very bottom was a piece of soft leather tied with tan string.
I pulled it free and undid the fasten, flopping open the leather to reveal yet another piece of paper.
This was different, though. This one wasn’t a love note but a short manuscript. Written in secret, stored in dust, and dedicated to the family she’d left behind.
I looked out the window again, searching for Hope and the horses. She’d guided the creatures to the stable where she’d begun tacking up Snowy for our evening ride.
The world of the living summoned me to join it, but the whispers of ghosts made my eyes fall back to the pages.
Should I read it?
Was it private?
I didn’t have a choice as my attention fell on my wife’s name in the dedication.
To Ren, my husband who lives in my heart.
To Jacob, my son who keeps me whole.
To Cassie, my sister who keeps me brave.
To John, my father who keeps me smiling.
To Hope, my daughter who I hope becomes family.
My hands trembled as I turned over the page, committing myself to this tale. I couldn’t trap away my mother’s words again without honouring them.
The description page was neatly typed.
‘Come Find Me’
A Short Story
I swallowed hard as I turned the page and began.
A SHORT STORY might be a single paragraph, a simple page, or a complex novella.
It should have a beginning, middle, and an end.
It can be fact, fiction, or fantasy.
This is none of those things.
It doesn’t have a beginning. There is no middle. There is only an end.
An end I have dreamed about, fantasied about, researched about.
I’m still alive, and I’m grateful. I don’t want to rush time or seek death. But I do live in two worlds. A world where I stay with the living. The world we all know to be true. It’s governed by gravity and seasons and rules imposed by reality. But the other world? The one after this is a mystery. Is it all light and angels like some texts? Is it all red and flames like some warnings? Or is it just another place?
A place with its own rules and parameters…as real as the one we are born to. A place where we visit when we dream, a place we feel on lonely nights and touch in shadowy corners?
A place where our loved ones wait to find us.
In my world, that place is real.
So real, I dream about it.
I visit there so often, it’s as much home as the one I breathe and exist in.
The only thing is…there is no breath required in this other world. There are no limitations on bodies or fragility caused by sickness or strife. There is no sorrow or struggle.
Just a place of utmost satisfaction.
And that is where my story begins…or ends, as the case may be.
This is my prediction, my hope, my prayer for when my final day on earth occurs.
I will die, and I am not afraid.
I will pass over, and I am ready.
I will close my eyes on the family I love, but open them again to a husband I’ve missed for eternity.
I will never publish this tale as it’s purely for me. An exercise in creation. A tool to help me cope.
And when my dying day comes, I am no longer human but a ghost.
No longer belonging to bone and body but to wind and wishes.
I belong to magic.
I belong to love.
And I feel it…tugging me.
The world is still around me, but it’s different.
I recognise trees and flowers and sunshine, yet they feel so much more. More alive. More colourful. More knowing.
My feet are bare, yet I don’t feel the green, green grass between my toes.
My white dress is fabric, yet I am naked and free.
I feel alive even though I am dead.
I no longer have pain from long-ago injuries. I no longer feel the twist of ligaments or strength of sinew. I walk, but really, I skim the ground below me.
I am weightless with freedom and marvel at the exquisite wash of nothingness. The complete lack of sensation from taste or sound or touch. My mortal senses are no longer master here, and slowly, step by step, wing by wing, I embrace a new way of existing.
A way of all-knowing, all-feeling, all-encompassing.
I am no longer a woman.
I am a spirit tapped into the wonders of creation itself.
The shimmer and shine of this new existence fades somewhat as my feet descend to sink into spongy, dew-wet grass.
And this time, I feel it.
I feel breath in my lungs and blood in my heart.
Yet I know I am no longer human.
This is just the form I am most comfortable in…for now. The form this new world has given me until I’m ready to take on a new one. To fashion a different existence, to live in the elements and explore the galaxies.
But for now, I am limited by my imagination and tolerance.
And besides, I’m searching.
Searching for something I lost so long ago. Something I know is still waiting for me.
I keep walking, dazzled by trees rustling and sun shining and the sky glittering like every sapphire and turquoise gem has been used to create the heavens.
There’s no dirt or sullied imperfection. No rushing or stressing or worry.
Just me in an endless summer meadow, floating, walking, manifesting my way to what I’d lost.
I still remember my previous life. I remember the son I created and the family who adopted me. I remember more in this form than I ever could in my human shell. My thoughts are free. My mind is a universe of teachings and past lives, and I’ve been given the key to all of them.
Some ended young. Some ended badly. But almost all of them had a partner.
Different faces, different hearts, but one soul.
The soul intrinsically entwined with mine.
It’s as if I summoned him.
A silver shadow appears on the horizon. A silhouette blinded by sterling light.
And I am home.
It takes a single thought to cross the distance. To sail from meadow to horizon and stop before him.
In this world, he could take any shape, be any power, exist in anything.
Yet I recognise him.
The sable bronze hair, the soft brown eyes, the jawline I’ve kissed and the body I’ve hugged.
His hand reaches for mine.
I place it into his touch.
Our connection lashes our fingers together with bolts of gilded gold. The sensation is tenfold. His skin is satin. His heat so comforting. His strength god-like as he pulls me into his embrace.
And there, we stand.
We stand in each other for heartbeats, but in the other world, it is years.
Time has no jurisdiction here, and as the seasons roll and people grow older in the place called earth, we just stand in serenity. Peace. Togetherness.
Our heartbeats sync into one. Our fingers mesh and glide through each other’s. We are air and water and love and lust all at once.
The magic of touch slowly wraps us in skin once again, allowing voices to work and eyes to blink, granting the power of speech and conversation.
Soon, we will no longer need these forms. We will choose another to start a different life or we will stay here together. It’s up to us. All options are available. Reincarnate or remain. Watch or go.
No pressure to choose any.
Right now, I’m in heaven with the husband I lost so young.
His face transforms into a smile, and I fall for him all over again. But this time, my heart has no limits. It can tumble far, far deeper than before. It can splash into my soul because that is what keeps us tethered. Bound as one no matter where we go.
His hand cups my cheek, and he kisses my forehead. “You found me, Della Ribbon.”
His voice is the same but not. The rough timbre plaits with golden grace.
I rise on my tiptoes and kiss him.
This man who is more than just my husband but my soul-mate. The missing piece of my being. “I always do, don’t I?”
And I do.
In multiple lifetimes, we are drawn and delivered. No age, race, or circumstance can keep us apart. It’s impossible because when we came into being, we were one. We were whole, then split down the middle to become two. Our one task is to find each other in every lifetime to complete the circle and be happy.
“Tell me…what did I miss?” His lips meet mine, and we kiss for a month on earth. A month where the moon crests and wanes and waxes.
When we pull away, I smile. “You saw it all. I felt you watching me.”
“I did. I watched it all.”
Locking me against him, he walks through the softest flowers with me by his side. “I saw our son fall in love and get married.”
“Yes, he chose well.”
“I saw John pass and find Patricia.”
“As it should be.”
Ren spins me in his arms, brushing aside my hair before kissing me again. “And I saw our grandchild. A girl.”
“She’s the perfect embodiment of hope and stubbornness.”
“She is.” He smiles, white and blinding. “Her name suits her perfectly, don’t you think?”
I nod. “Perfectly.”
His body shimmers, teasing with solid and figment. “Our son has made me proud, Della Ribbon. I’m so glad he’s no longer alone.”
“He’s found his Hope and his heart. But he still misses you. Deeply.”
Together, we turn and look through the veil of this world and the other. A rainbow shimmer, a curtain of protection where souls can guard over the living.
And there we watch Jacob and Hope riding over fields with their daughter trotting behind. A daughter who is the perfect blend of all of us.
A daughter named after a grandfather she wouldn’t meet in her lifetime but perhaps in another…someday.
“She’s a pretty thing,” Ren murmurs into my hair.
“Pretty and stubborn and bold.”
“A perfect child for a perfect name then.”
We kiss again, letting our son and his wife canter off with their daughter.
A daughter who will grow to experience her own trials and tribulations—to find her own soul-mate.
A daughter named Wren.
In a daze, I wrapped the manuscript inside its leather cover, placed it into the box, and closed the lid. When had Mom written such a thing?
It felt so real. As if she’d already visited such a place and returned to pen it for others.
How did she know we would have a daughter? How did she know I’d marry Hope and find a way to be happy?
What other stories and love notes would I find if I pressed forward with the renovation? Had she written any to me? To Hope? Had she done what Dad had and pre-empted her death with gifts of remembrance?
Goosebumps never faded as I turned my back on the writing room and strode warily through the house. I’d entered this place with new beginnings on my mind, yet the past had found me instead. A manuscript that Mom had written in privacy yet predicted a future that had come to pass.
She called my daughter Wren.
After my father. After love.