The Last Hello

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tara spent such a long time waiting... waiting and waiting for her long lost love Leo to return from the war. Believing in a promise he made years ago, she goes to see him one last time. For hhhh's competition. =)

Submitted: August 16, 2009

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Submitted: August 16, 2009

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The moon’s reflection shimmered in the cold shallow water. Tara inhaled quietly, trying to hide her fear. She had come, after all these years she would see him again, after losing him many summers ago. She had changed since he had last seen her, she had cropped her hair and began to wear more makeup to look feminine, but she hoped he would still recognise her. Time had not altered her features that much.
“Leo!” she called, stepping into the cool lake water. She was inappropriately dressed, with her thin dress which let all the icy water touch her skin instantly. “Leo!”
She pulled out the tatty letterhe had sent her whilst he was fighting for their country, risking his life for their new one together. She had to check the details were correct.
Meet me by the lakeside when two summers pass...
Leo x
That would be now, she thought to herself, folding up the paper and sliding it back into her breast pocket. Leo was never late for appointments; it was weird of him to be so tardy. Could he have-?

She bit back on the thought, shaking it out of her mind. He was still alive. He had to be. They had so many future plans together, so many things left to say and do.
She waded through the water, until she reached the other side of the lake. He was nowhere to be found. She held a clump of grass, and attempted to pull herself out of the water using it as support.

Then it happened.

Fireflies came out of nowhere, in a swarm, emitting bright light and buzzing around her. No, she realised upon closer inspection, these things were not fireflies but something else. They were growing in size and they were changing colour.

She reached her hand out to the glowing orbs, feeling the warmth from them.
“Leo?” she said, his name almost slipping from her mouth. The lights spun around her, creating a web around her. “Leo? Where are you?”
She knew he was close; this was his aura she assured herself as she placed her hand around the orb. Her hand sunk through its body as she grasped warm air.

“LEO!” The lights spun faster and faster, blurring her vision and placing her in a trance. They were telling her to follow her. They knew where Leo was.
She made her way through the higher grass, striding through it and stomping through the mud. Her heart was pounding from the thrill and excitement. He could be somewhere close, she thought. After waiting so long, he’d be home again to look at her with his dark brown eyes. He would wrap his arms around her and never let her go again. Not for war, not for the country; he wouldn’t leave her again for anything.
She needed to tell him she loved him. She wasn’t as shy now. After experiencing a life without him, she’d rather die than miss another chance to be with him. Life had no meaning without him. She needed to tell him that in those three little words.

The glowing orbs stopped by a tree, dancing about, telling her something.
He’s here. He’s right here.

She rushed to the tree, slamming her body to the trunk and searching the surrounding area. He had to be close... These were his lights to guide her to him, she was sure of that.

With one last whimper, she cried his name ones more. “Leo,” she managed to say, as she curled up to the trunk of the tree. “Have you really left me? Why have I heard no word from you?”
It was as if the lights heard her question, as they rushed away in all directions at the sound of a crunching noise. Footsteps. Tara leapt up, waiting for someone to approach.

“Tara?” the voice called. She knew this voice, the emotions choked her. “Darling!”
It was him! “LEO! Oh my, Leo baby!”
She ran towards his dark silhouette, her wet dress slapping her calves. As soon as she gained proximity, she halted.
“You... your face.”
He winced. She could see his shoulders hunch over slightly, an expression he usually did when he was ashamed. She stepped towards him, and reached for barrier between his skin and hers. She wanted to touch him so badly. “A mask?”
His face was covered by an ominous looking mask, dark illustrations scrawled upon white. It was so cold, she noted as her fingertips sent chills up her body.
“I didn’t want to approach you whilst looking like this,” he paused, “the war left me scarred mentally and physically.”
“Leo, it’s fine now,” she held his trembling hands. His familiar trembling hands. “We’re together now. We can be together forever now.”
He nodded. “Yes. I missed you so much.”
“Why did you stop writing?” Tara made herself comfortable on his chest, wrapping his hands around her for an embrace.
“Every time I took up a pen and paper to write you a letter, I ended up yearning for you more and more. I was sure that I would run away from that goddamn place if it continued. I had to be strong. I had to trust that you would wait for me.”
“You’re lucky, I could have found a rich guy who wanted to marry me,” she teased, pouting slightly.
“Then he would have had a hell of a battle when I returned. I would never give you up without a fight.” He squeezed her. “You lost weight?”
“Kind of... and I cut my hair.”
“It suits you,” he ruffled her hair and kissed a lock of it. “You’ve changed. But you shouldn’t skip meals.”
“I won’t, now that you’re around.” The tears rolled out of her eyes instantly. This was bliss. This was the happiness she was searching for for such a long time.

“Tell me about things back home,” Leo asked her as they walked back to the lake. They would need to cross it to get home.
“Everyone’s fine, your cousins have grown up mighty fast though.” She smiled and then it faded, “Your grandmother died a while ago... I don’t know if anyone told you? I’m sorry...”
“Oh, I kind of knew...” he sniffed. “She died happy?”
“Yes...” She stopped as they reached the water’s edge. “She was always proud of you, like I constantly am.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. She would be his support. He smiled at her. “I know I never said it to you when I left, but I love you Tara. Damn, I love you more than love itself! When you saw me off that day, and you cried as my train left, I realised how much of a mistake I was making going on that train and leaving you. Who cares about the service? You should have been my first priority. I should have been around to look after you. But I wasn’t... I love you, but I don’t qualify to love you... I’m not good enough...”
“You left to protect our country. You were protecting me, and many other people... You had no choice in the matter. But that’s all in the past.” She stared into his dark eyes. “Can I touch your face?”
“Must you?” He sounded uncertain.
She nodded. Yes, she had to see his face properly once more. She needed to kiss those lips which escaped her years ago.
“If you wish... I am a hideous man now, not that I was much to begin with.” He tried to raise the mood, before reaching for the mask straps at the back of his head. Loosening the mask, he slipped it off his face and revealed the wounds beneath.
“Handsome,” she reached for the skin. She couldn’t see anything different; he was the same man who had left her. He was still the most handsome man of the town to her. “I do not love you any less.”
“P-Pardon?” he stuttered. “What did you say?”
“Huh? I said you’re handsome...”
“No no... you said you loved me. Tara, I waited so long to hear you say that. I am waiting for so so long.” Tears trickled down his face, and he smiled. “I’m so thankful to be alive to hear this. To experience this...”
“I-I...”She blushed. She had finally said it. “Uggh.... yeah I’m mad about you. And what?”

Then he seized her lips. Lips which she had longed for the feel of again, greeted hers passionately. Time stopped just then. It was a moment that lasted forever, yet finished too soon. Her heart thumped in her chest, her head swirled as the spinning lights spun about her. She grabbed his body, needing to know this moment was real. He was here with her, he wasn’t going anywhere again.
The kiss ending with a series of smaller kisses, making her feel dizzier. She was in a trance again from the lights. It was all as how it should be.

Leo placed his leg in the lake water and beckoned her over. “Let’s go home... To our home.”
She followed him, sinking into the once icy water, which was now warmer. Everything was better when he was around. Everything.
“Wait- before I lose the opportunity-Tara,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a box. Crouching to pose on one leg, he held out the box towards her. He would seal their bond of love. They’d never be apart again.
“Will you marry me?” He asked, his handsome face looking up at her. The light orbs lit up the lake like large, silent fireflies. She could see everything now. She could see him clearly, without the mask which swam in the lake behind them, disappearing for good. He needn’t hide from her. He just needed to be with her all the time. She bent down to him and hugged him, pressing their lips together. This was the promise she needed.
They would be together forever.
“Yes, YES!” She squealed.
He held her close, and tears ran down their faces. They were both complete, and they both understood as the lights spun around them one final time as they were pulled under. The lake engulfed them and the light sent them off.
Together forever.


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