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6:08 PM

by Alan Mehanna about a year ago in Short Story · updated about a year ago
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to what we lost

6:08 PM
Photo by Nicolas Picard on Unsplash

“ I love you…”

I stared into your glistening eyes as I attempted to take in the words you uttered. Across my entire life on this planet, never had anyone said those words to me outside my family. Never had anyone whispered them so gently and genuinely as they looked into my eyes. Never had I felt this overwhelming wave of emotion as strongly as I had in that moment.

As I continued to sink deeper into your eyes, I noticed a tear sliding down your cheek and passed your gorgeous bewildered smile. It was then that I realized how surprised you were that you had said those words, and the amount of courage it took for you to say them. I remembered how you shared your bad experiences with those words, and how much you feared them, and now here you were breaking down your walls waiting for me to say them back.

“I love you too,” I manage to say as tears begin to stream down my face as well, and I bring you into a tight hug.

We laid in bed, on top of each other for a few minutes of pure bliss, absorbing the beauty of this moment. Our minds wandered towards the endless possibilities of the future and this brand new step we had taken in our surreal journey that had begun a few months back over a conversation on a social media app.

The rest of the morning floated smoothly: quick smiling glances, repeated whispers of the phrase, fluttering internal butterflies dancing around inside us - all accompanied by bursts of productivity and motivation in terms of our jobs.

Once the afternoon came around, we decided to go help out your mother and pick some of the ripe fruit off of trees on your father’s land. There was something so quaint about the life we were establishing, something we would never be able to get anywhere else, at least not that easily.

We reached a pear tree that seemed like it had withstood eons, and witnessed countless love stories beneath its branches. We joked, laughed, smiled, and secretly flirted with our glances so as to not attract any attention from people passing by. You picked one of the pears and threw it my way. I almost fumbled it. You chuckled.

Sweaty and tired, we returned home, quick showers, and headed back to your room where we laid on your bed - me reading a book, and you playing your video game. How am I here in his room, connecting with him, falling in love with him? My mind wandered with delight as this stream of questions rolled around expressing themselves as images and moments from time-lines we had yet to cross. You’d ignited a dream within me that had been silently ignored for a long time. I never thought I would be able to awaken it again.

I kissed the top of your head and whispered that phrase to you one more time, and how proud I was to be your partner. You were about to reply when we heard it…the first bang, followed by a soft earthly rumble.

You yelled out from your room and asked your mother who was in the living room if she’d heard it and if she knew the source. She answered back that it could have been a slamming door due to the wind. We brushed it off, laughed, and were about to continue doing whatever it was we were doing, when the louder explosive sound came, the house shook, and my heart stopped.

We’ve been hit, I saw your lips move but I could not hear your voice. My thoughts rushed as I tried to fathom what we had heard. We rushed to the living room and witnessed the panic on live television as dumbfounded and terrified reporters were trying to understand what had happened. Some claimed it was an air strike, a term not unfamiliar when you live in Lebanon, but there was nothing concrete.

I walked back to the bedroom, unable to continue watching the disaster on television. I called my parents to check on them. Hearing they were fine, I told them I’d call back. I turned around to find you standing behind me, a look of horror on your face. “Look,” you told me as you handed me your phone. I stared at the small screen as the video played and the massive dark red mushroom cloud rose from the Beirut port and roared devouring half of our beloved city.

“Was anyone we knew hurt,” I asked shaking. You shook your head unsure of the answer.

I sat on the bed and grabbed my phone, typing out a broadcast message to all my friends, pleading with them to send me a sign that they were alive and safe. Yet all I wanted at the moment was to find a way to keep you safe and get you out of the country. I hated myself for being that selfish, yet that was all I could think about.

You saw the panic on my face and pulled me in for a hug. “We’re gonna be fine,” you kept saying to me. How could this be happening, I thought. How could a day in which my dreams soared also be the day that many others found their dreams shattered? It was and is a cruel twist of fate to have our I love you’s be linked with such a tragic, and violent day.

Yet, what is the universe but a strange and unexplainable phenomenon that, no matter what, values balance above all else.

Short Story

About the author

Alan Mehanna

  • 🎬 AwardWinning #Screenwriter
  • 🗡️#FantasyGeek
  • 🎙️#Podcaster
  • 📺#SeriesLover
  • 📚 #Storyteller
  • 🗯️#TedxSpeaker

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