Love Chooses You – Short Story

Love Chooses You
By Maclean Patrick

The sparkle of sunlight on the waters caught him by surprise. It had been a moody day,downcast and gray,with the sun shy behind November skies. This sudden burst of sun rays was a welcomed surprise. He paused a while, allowing the reflected rays to bathe his face in hues of gold and yellow. The caressing warmth broke the grip of the icy water flowing between his legs as he stood just shy of the river bank with his fishing rod balanced against his belt.

He pulled the fishing rod a little, allowing the line to drift more to his right. Thus, avoiding the fallen tree to his left, whose branches jutted out like petrified tongues of fire. Having his line stuck on any one of the branches would be disastrous, he rather cut the line then to attempt poking his arm in the cold frigid water looking for a stuck fishing hook. He leaned a little more to the right, pulling the line a good five feet clear of the sunken derelict tree.

The fish were not biting and he mumbled a complaint about how the mining up river had affected the water and driven all the fish out of the area. The gold mine was reaching the end of its production life. Gold used to be plentiful in these parts but in recent years the yield had trickled to mere gold dust. The nuggets were long gone, mined off sometime in the early 1940s just before the war.

A rustle among the tall grass on the far bank announced the arrival of a deer coming to drink from the waters and he raised his head to get a better look at her. It was not too often one can catch a glimpse of a deer out in the wild, most time it was either mounted to a wall or crumpled up by the side of a road.

The deer as it quietly drank from the river, her slender frame bordered by an ethereal halo thrown off by the dim, reflected light of the sun. Her ears flickered wildly, casing away the pesky mosquitoes buzzing over its head. She did not seem to mind him watching her drink. Almost as if she welcomed the attention from the man standing in the river, pulling at a fishing line and hoping to avoid a sunken tree.

Simplicity.

Why can’t things be this simple? He asked himself. One could live free and not worry about so called necessities. Drink when one wanted, eat what one finds and lived where one wished. The deer had more freedoms than he could ever get and he was supposed to be the more advance creature of the lot.

He reached over to the right pocket of his vest with his left hand and took out the neatly folded piece of paper he had placed there two days ago.

Perfume lingered on the sheets of paper, scents of the giver, and it stood out from the scent of grass, mud and water. It was her scent. As distinct as the scent of all things in the wilderness. For it carried her character and personality and told the world she was present in that space and time. And as he read the words to the letter, he knew she was there with him; silently watching him, like the deer on the far bank, who by now had caught the faint scent of perfume in the air. The deer raised her head and looked in the direction of our fisherman. Training her ears at him, as if waiting for him to read the contents out loud.


Dear Matt,

It’s been a while since I wrote. How are you?

I know this is would come as a surprise to you but I had no one else I could think of who could help me. It had always been you and only you who would be there for me. Somehow, I know you would never refuse or turn me down. You love me too much.


The tug of the line drew his attention away from the letter. There was a biter on his line and a big one from the of pressure it put on his rod. He released more line and allowed the rod to slack a little and then the tugging stopped.

Better luck next time.


I was too young to understand. Understand why you loved me so much. I was care-free and just wanted to have a good time in life. I didn’t appreciate the things you did for me. How you stood by me when my father left, how you comforted me when I went through that failed relationship. The way you waited on me, night and day; ever ready to listen to me and offer all the help you could give. I was too foolish to see that I was constantly breaking your heart, yet you kept quiet about all the hurt I caused. I did not see it then but I understand now.


His fishing line moved a little to the left. He watched it inch its way towards a disfigured branch and stopping short of touching it. Changing direction, it now moved to the right. The fish was testing the line. He smiled and released more line, giving the fish room to think about its next move.

All the while the deer on the far bank watched.


I left you that day not just because I was chasing after my dreams. I was running from you. I grew to love you and it scared me. I had dreams and things to do and I thought you would be tying me down. So I left and told you to forget me. But I cannot forget what you said. It seem stupid to me at that time but now I realize; you had been sincere about all you promised.

You told me you would love me forever. Love forever. I just could not believe it, yet you did love me and now, I know you are the only person who could help me.


The deer moved a step back and turned to face the forest. There was movement coming its way and it was prime to sprint out of the way if it was a mountain lion or a bear. The rustling in the grass parted way for a fawn. The fawn had been down wind and her scent was lost to her own mother.

The bright eyed and curious fawn took tiny steps towards its mother and found its place next to her by the river bank.

He noticed this and smiled. “Your child is beautiful,” his complement met with an approving nod from the deer.


I have a daughter and she needs a father. I’m dying from cancer and would not live long enough to see her leave school. You have always been a father, friend and love of my life, to me and now I just want you to be the father to my daughter and hopefully she will learn from you, all the things I wasted my life forgetting.

Matt, you cannot refuse me this. I know you love me and have always loved me. I’m sorry for all the things I’ve done to you and I hope you can forgive me. You cannot refuse my request. Please.


The tug on his fishing line was strong. It was time to reel the fish in and after jamming the base of the rod into his belt, he pulled on the rod using his right hand and for a moment he hesitated. He had always loved her and now she was going to entrust to him the most precious thing in her life, her daughter. A daughter he knew nothing about what more to be guardian over. He hesitated, rod in hand as the tension mounted on the line. The fish was fighting hard.

He was nearing his thirties when he came across the troubled teen. She had been passed on from counselor to counselor, each time given over as a case too hard to handle. A hard case, no-one wanted nor could solve. Her case file came his way one sunny Monday morning and he arranged to see her for the first time.

The first meeting was far from ideal, she dive-bombed every question he threw at her. She was intelligent and adept at arguing his questions with reasoning of her own. She was logical in her approach and he knew instantly why the other counselors could not break through her shell. They had tried to bring her to their level when instead they should have gone down to hers. To see the world as she saw it.

So it was a surprise to her when he suggested she showed him the neighborhood where she lived.

She showed him the derelict government built flats she was raised, until the age of twelve, for that was when her father left and her mother decided to move in with the uncle, two floors up from their original apartment unit. The uncle was a perpetual drunk and to save herself from him she spent as much time away from the home as possible.

Truancy was normal practice for her and often times, he would find her hanging out at the old abandoned cinema by the dock-yards. Sometimes alone, most times with her delinquent friends, no better off than her.

But she had a spark about her. Beneath all that swagger of hypocritical toughness, she was still a little girl looking for love. And he slowly found himself falling in love with her. Love was a powerful medium and for a moment it help keep her out of trouble, for she grew to trust him and to listen to him. He got her back into school and kept her there long enough for her to get a decent education. Yet as she came into her early twenties, her wild streak showed itself again and she wanted space and freedom of her own. His love could not hold her back but instead he chose to release her, with the promise that he would always be available in case she needed anything.

She disappeared from his life (saved for the occasional Christmas postcard) until the Tuesday morning, he received the letter. He had read it in his office and pondered on the decision he had to make. Seeing that it could not be something he could decide quickly, he opted to go fishing.

A friend had mentioned about the river just north of the city, four hours drive along the highway and another two by logging track, up to a place where some gold mining was still done. It was remote enough and far enough for one to spend time to contemplate decisions. Far enough for one to ask, what should I do now? Or should I bother?


Matt, you cannot refuse me this.


She had always been demanding but in that line she had shown desperation. She had reached the end of the rope and she turned to the one constant she had left, the man who had loved her all along. But was he still that much in love with her?

Matt pushed his fisherman hat up, allowed the cool mountain air to cool his head and tousled his gray hair. He had chosen to keep it long, an image of coolness that allowed him access to the deepest of troubled teen minds. Being a counselor to young rebels can put a strain on one’s mind and his final case broke his resolve and he left the profession, choosing instead to pursue full time his love for writing. His writings offered him release but that final case lingered on like a mis-behaving ghost. Haunting him for years until it manifest itself in full glory that Tuesday morning when he opened the envelope and read the perfume scented letter.

The tug on his line was heavy and he could feel the shifting of the fish weight side to side. It was fighting hard, fighting to keep its freedom and he could feel the pulsating grind of his own muscle as he strained to hold on to the rod. In a single swift move, he grabbed hold of the rod with his left (crumpling the letter against the rod), lowered his right hand to reached for the lower right hand pocket of his vest and to pull out his pen-knife. Without much thought nor hesitation, he cut the line. There was a quick swish and the line was lost.

Looking up he caught the approving glare of the deer and the fawn by its side. They had not taken their gaze off him the whole time and were seemingly able to read the thoughts of Matt, the fisherman. Good, they seemed to say as the deer turned and, with fawn in tow, silently made their way back into the forest.

He tossed his rod onto the river bank and held the letter in both hands.


I remembered your promise. You promised to love me forever and it stuck to me all these years and when I hit my dead-end, those were the words that came back to me. Your image came back to me, and I remembered all the things you did for me out of the goodness of your heart.

I never took the time to appreciate all the things you’ve done for me. I never took the time to acknowledge you. I took you for granted and made you out as a mere convenience rather than a person who loved me.

For all that, I am sorry and I regret having to live all these years without realizing all that.

Please, fulfill my final hope. Take care of my daughter and allow her to have a life better than the one I had. Give her the chances I never had and never let her walk down the path I took. Please.


Love forever,

Melanie.


He folded the letter and placed it back into his right pocket and looked out onto the forest on the far bank. Somewhere in the thick forest a deer was walking with its fawn. She would take great cares to teach the little one the paths that crisscrossed through the forest, what to eat and not to eat and where the safe watering holes were. Somewhere in that forest was a mother and child navigating their way through a dangerous place.

Was not life like that?

Life itself was a forest, a jungle some say, and the wisdom of the elder was needed by the young in order to survive.

In her life, Melanie did not have any elder until Matt came along and now she was attempting to put right what had gone so wrong in her life.

Everyone needs a second chance at things even if it can only live on in the life of the next generation. Melanie needed that second chance and it would live through her daughter. Matt made his decision and as he stepped over to the river-bank intent on heading back to his parked truck, he stop in mid stride and turned to face the far bank of the river and for a moment he could see the deer again, nodding in approval to his decision.

Matt smiled and whispered, “Thank you.”

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One Response to Love Chooses You – Short Story

  1. iqa rasol says:

    such a lovely story!
    well done;)

    ~iqa rasol

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