love (The Extra Mile)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
My first short story. I hope you like it. Please critize it.

Submitted: June 01, 2009

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Submitted: June 01, 2009

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love
When people saw Brad and Tonya walking down the street the obvious thing they might say about the couple is that they were in love. But few people, those people who knew what love was, saw and felt exactly what Brad and Tonya had. Love radiated from the couple like a contagious cancer.
Both Brad and Tonya knew that love really was a feeling, but a better word would be instinct. Not the feeling of “O this person is the best and I want to be with him or her forever,” no this, that was infatuation. But the feeling of “What ever comes down our path, I will put myself in front of any obstacles that appear and help you over, even if I must cut myself off from you.”
Brad always thought that the feeling, or the desire, would be enough for him and Tonya to defy time, distance, and other hardships. Tonya’s desire to always be there for Brad was only matched for Brad’s desire to always serve Tonya.
The couple traveled through life as one organism and had only dated for two and one half years. Tonya was Brad’s screen from a harsh reality. She was sweet and strong at the same time. Her weakness was no awareness of any weaknesses. Brad was the man that could stand that ignorance and love her completely inspire of it.
Marriage was the couple’s next step. Both knew that being married in college life was difficult, so they would wait and spare themselves the trouble. Brad was a senior and Tonya a junior.
Because they chose to be in no rush, they never wanted to separate. Technology could give them enough of each other to survive the time. And so Tonya went to Africa for a mission with an orphanage. Brad didn’t want her to go; he wanted her with him. She was going for five weeks over summer break, so Brad knew she would be back soon enough. Brad would graduate after two semesters and Tonya after three, both with a degree in business. They envisioned starting a real estate and insurance agency together.
Brad’s second thought was could he afford to go with her. His bills and loans were building up and starting to overtake his mind like a looming storm. Brad decided it would be best for him to stay and work. Brad also knew Tonya was independent and a woman of ambition. She believed what the feminists told her all her life; women were as strong as, or stronger, then men. She had family, business, and personal goals set as a freshman in college. Most important being personal goals.
Tonya loved Brad, and wanted to be with him in a physical state, but that should never stop her from pursuing her goals. She was a Christian because her parents were, but she also had a deep love for helping people. She saw that as the essence of Christianity and set out to pursue the goal of being a Christian.
Brad felt the same way about helping people, but the belief never carried over into Christianity. Despite causing tension with her parents, Brad never believed in God. Brad was raised in and out of foster homes after his mother left him at the steps of a police station when Brad was a baby. Twice Brad had been molested during the elementary school years, he had spent three years with a family that sold drugs out of their home, and he had been beaten countless times. How could God let this happen to him, or anyone?
The memories he suppressed would show in his eyes if you looked hard enough. And Tonya could see them and accept them. Brad had never found someone like that, and it was that, not Tonya’s stunning looks or caring personality, that Brad loved.
Brad never forgave God, but he saw in Tonya a chance for his past to be erased. Tonya saw a good man in Brad that could love and be with her, someone strong enough to let her be herself.
Tonya’s parents never understood that love, but they trusted Tonya’s character judgment. And so when Tonya’s parents met Brad at the airport to see her off to Africa, they carefully examined Brad’s motions with an understanding heart.
Brad and Tonya waited in line at the ticket kiosk as Brad weighed her bags and labeled them as Tonya got her passport and tickets ready. Tonya came back to say goodbye to her parents and hugged them both. And she walked to Brad and they briefly kissed (because kissing in front of Tonya’s parents was embarrassing for Brad.) They exchanged “I love you” and Tonya went through security with her mission teammates never looked back. Brad couldn’t stop watching as Tonya left.
Time passed. Weeks seemed like days for Tonya and days like weeks for Brad. But he had made three weeks without “Tonya-sickness.” He missed her, but his want for her to be happy and to live her goals was stronger than any misgivings he had about distance.
It was at the end of the third week when Tonya called Brad with the news. Brad got the call in the early morning.
“Brad,” Tonya said soberly as Brad answered his cell phone.
“Hey baby, how is Africa today?” Brad perked back sleepishly.
“Brad, … I … I …” Tonya couldn’t stop crying.
“What is it babe? What happened? Are you OK?” Brad implored.
“I was just raped.” Tonya said.
With that Brad just laid in bed staring at the ceiling. Anger was mixing with sorrow, regret, hurt, and fear. All of which left him not knowing what to feel or say. His mind was numb but his heart was racing. He lay speechless for less than ten seconds, but in the moment the seconds felt like ten hours as he heard Tonya cry on the other end of the line.
“Where are you?” Brad pushed out.
“Just out side the market square.” Tonya said sobbing.
And from there Brad gave Tonya the strength to go the ten-minuet walk to the orphanage. It was around noon in Africa when a small militant group had drove through the market square shooting and pillaging through the misdirected crowd. Four of the militants spotted Tonya and cornered her between two buildings, striped her, beat her, and rapped her. It was over as soon as it started, but that is only what the story a clock told.
For Brad he swore he could look down and see his heart dropping to the floor. It was more of an out-of-body experience for Brad, as if he was watching his memories haunt him. Sins he never committed in childhood and sins he committed as a young adult, he now had to pay for. The price would require all Brad could give, but he was willing to pay for Tonya’s sake.
Brad’s next move was to call Tonya’s parents, at her request. They could get the mission organization funds in line to send Tonya home before the day was over. Then Brad would go to work for as long as he could, but his boss knew Tonya and would understand if Brad needed to leave.
The waiting killed Brad’s spirit. Questions that had been stored behind a dam of trust were spilling over. “Why wasn’t I there? Why Tonya and why me? Who could do this to her?” And they never stopped while Brad waited.
What haunted Brad the most was the thought he was paying for his sins somehow. Brad and Tonya had “succumbed to the pressures of a serious relationship” twice. And Brad couldn’t even say “sex” in his mind when he referred to those “incidents.” Each time they made a promise to wait until marriage. Tonya made the promise for morality’s sake, and Brad for Tonya.
“How could God repay me like this?” was the question Brad would answer the surface of with “There is no God and no moral justice.” But Brad was scared to really tackle the question because wanted to believe in a higher moral power.
The idea that everyone would have to answer to a higher man ready to judge them gave Brad peace. Brad wanted those people who beat him, abused him, held him back, and generally misused him, to pay. And Brad wanted the good people like Tonya and her parents rewarded. But Brad never put himself in the judgment seat; he had already paid a price that he chose not to pay, childhood.
All this ran through Brad’s mind as he waited to see Tonya return. And he never answered a single one of them with solace.
Brad let Tonya’s parents hug her first. Brad sauntered to Tonya after a minuet or two holding back the tears and hugged her. He didn’t know how to react. So he just cried with her.
Brad and Tonya spent the week talking on the phone and eating in Brad’s apartment. He loved to cook for Tonya and rent a movie and stay in. This time he made all of Tonya’s favorite foods and let her pick the movies for a couple of weeks.
They saw each other every other day in some capacity. For a quick lunch or a date, it didn’t matter. Tonya relied on Brad as much as Brad relied on Tonya, which wasn’t a first, but not the usual position their relationship was in.
And at first Tonya didn’t notice, but as she started to heal she started to pull away. And as Tonya pulled away, Brad pulled in tighter. Brad didn’t really know what was going on until the middle of the second week in a phone conversation.
“When are you getting tested?” Brad asked quietly.
“The day after tomorrow,” Tonya answered.
“What time?” Brad asked.
“Two,” Tonya answered.
“But if you wait till four I can go with you.” Brad said.
“I know,” Tonya sighed.
“Don’t you think we should find out together?” Brad asked with as if he had been shot in the heart.
“No, this I need to do on my own. This is my problem, and, baby, it is not your fault. It’s all mine,” Tonya answered as if she had practiced her response.
“OK, but as soon as you find out let me know if you are positive,” Brad said as an ultimatum.
“I will baby,” Tonya relented.
Tonya was going to the hospital to get her blood tested for HIV. Brad realized the chances that she was positive were more than just likely. Tonya was not showing much emotion, or at least not with Brad.
Brad kept his hand in his pocket holding is phone from one till he got the text message at 2:30. He thought about asking off from work, but he didn’t because Tonya wanted to do this on her own. “It’s negative” and like that Brad sighed and felt relieved. A bullet was dodged and his day’s burden was lifted.
Brad and Tonya continued like nothing had happened with the HIV test and they all together almost forgot the rape. But as the elephant in the room got larger, the desire to seek help got smaller. Neither one would talk much about it out of gratefulness and embarrassment.
It was then Tonya noticed something. She missed her menstal cycle the month before, but thought it was stress, but when she missed it again she bought a home test.
“No need to tell Brad,” Tonya thought. “It is probably just cause by trauma,” she thought on the way back from buying the test.
But two weeks later and numerous home pregnancy tests later, Tonya had to face reality; she is pregnant by rape. It wasn’t so much the “is pregnant” that bothered her. It was the “by rape” that caused Tonya to behave not Tonya-like.
“It’s not my baby,” Tonya thought. “So abortion would be fine because it is not me. It is probably not even human yet.”
But Tonya knew the physiological effects that went with women who were pregnant and then had an abortion. And she had enough of a mind to know that she didn’t need any more mental damage. So adoption was the next choice because she never even considered keeping the baby.
In those two weeks Brad noticed something was different, in a bad way, about Tonya. But there were some sparkling moments where she was happy that led him to believe maybe she was just dealing with the rape in a weird, moody way.
Tonya did not want to tell Brad, she told her parents first and wanted badly to ask them to tell Brad. She knew she had to be the one to tell him. She waited until they were back at Brad’s apartment just sitting and talking.
“Baby, there is something you should know,” Tonya said as she snapped out of deep thought. “I’m pregnant cause of the rape.”
And as Tonya looked into Brad’s eyes she could see the train that just hit him. Brad from one minuet came from a college kid enjoying life, to a man with responsibilities at home. Adoption never entered his mind, this baby was theirs and not by choice.
“How far along are you?” Brad asked.
“About six and a half weeks,” Tonya replied.
“Have you told your parents?” Brad asked.
“Yes,” Tonya said shamefully.
“What did they say?”
“They said put it up for adoption. Abortion is not an option and neither is keeping it. It is not mine and did not come to me by choice, so I am not responsible for it.”
“What do you mean put it up for adoption?” Brad exclaimed. “You know what happens if the kid doesn’t get picked. Why can’t we get married and take care of the kid?”
“It is not mine,” Tonya answered back loudly. “And it is not yours. I did not ask for this.”
“And neither did the kid, but he or she can just be thrown into the wind like he or she had no choice,” Brad said as he rose his voice more. Tonya was not going to cower down.
“I have plans for my life! And this kid is not one of them! It doesn’t matter what it wants because thirty years later it will be alive and fine.”
From that statement on Brad and Tonya met the fork in the road that would separate them. Neither considered the other path. As time passed the divide between them grew. The elephant in the room had no room for either one of the pair.
A few weeks later the two took a “break” with the hope that time and ignorance could bring them back together. Tonya was not listening to Brad and Brad was finally starting to realize that this was Tonya’s decision and there was nothing he could do to change her mind. But that didn’t stop him from resenting her for the things she said knowing his past. The thought that she could consciously make a decision to do this to an unborn child was beyond him.
Both thought if Tonya or her parents could find a suitable family for the child then things would get better and the elephant could shrink over time, but time passed quickly. Tonya was eight months pregnant and she still could not find parents for the child. At the same time Brad and Tonya gave up on being together. They had been together for three years and it took eight of nine months to separate them.
Brad just herd Tonya say “My problem, my baby, my this and my that.” Tonya could only hear Brad say “My past, my childhood, my here and my there.” Conversations moved from “us” and “we” to “me” and “I.” Tensions grew on the phone and it got to where neither could tell if the other was being serious or sarcastic.
When the baby was being born Tonya was not going to let Brad be in the birthing room, but he could visit her after. They were still friends, but more like friends who had something to work out. What needed to be worked out kept building like water behind a dam and neither would drill a spillway.
Brad was on his way to the local grocery store to buy Tonya some flowers, white carnations. He got the call that she was in labor at eight in the evening and he would go in the morning to see her.
“Is this all you need hun?” the blonde cashier asked.
“Yeah,” Brad replied.
“Well they are very pretty,” she persisted, “Are they for your girlfriend?”
“Yes … well no. It’s complicated,” Brad stammered.
“Haha, things like that are I guess. Four dollars and fifty-six cents,” she said.
“She’s having her baby right now,” Brad said before he knew what he was saying. He just needed to talk about it with someone he thought.
“It’s not our baby – and she did not cheat on me - she was raped in Africa on a mission trip nine months ago,” Brad kept going looking into her soft blue eyes. “And now she wants to put it up for adoption and I want to keep it. It doesn’t matter what I want, it’s her baby and it is her choice. I Hope she can live with it.”
“Well sweetie that is complicated. Where you adopted?”
“No, I was never picked. I don’t want that for her … I mean her child,” Brad replied.
“No, I think you mean her. Do you love her?” she asked.
Brad looked back to make sure no one is behind him as he said “Yeah.”
“Well it sounds like me you are being asked to go the extra mile. Have you thought about adopting the child yourself?”
“I don’t know if she would go that far,” Brad said with a quirk, being careful not to deny the statement. He had thought a lot of adopting the child.
“Well that is what going the extra mile is about. You love her and you are wiling to bear this burden for her, then you will have to sacrifice being with her and go where she won’t. And if I have learned one thing from life’s journey it is this: sometimes you have to go the extra mile to stand the first mile.”
“Thanks,” Brad said as he grabbed his flowers.
“Anytime honey,” the lady in her mid fifties replied.
Brad was off to research what it would take. He had one semester left and he could take night courses to finish. He could, at the time being, ask for more hours at the office supply store where he worked, or maybe he could transfer to another city farther away. He didn’t what Tonya and her child to be in the same city. That would just eat away at Tonya. He would need to transfer.
Brad could do all of this, buy a house, find a daycare, be a dad; it was just for the asking. The more he thought about it the more he liked it. He stayed up all night and when Tonya had the child at three in the morning Brad was there within minuets pitching his idea.
“Tonya I want to do this,” Brad pleaded.
“It is awkward though,” Tonya said.
“I know, but you can just forget us if you want. You can go on with the rest of your life if you want. And, if you want, you can come back and we will take you. It is your choice. But let me prevent this kid from having the same childhood I did. I’ll take care of him.”
“I’ll think about it, but I can’t stop you, not legally. And I know you won’t stop because your heart is too big,” Tonya said in a strange, sad tone.
Then the nurse walked in and handed the baby to Tonya, who just put it in Brad’s arms.
“What is it?” Brad asked.
“A boy,” Tonya replied.
“What did you name him?” Brad asked.
“Titus James,” Tonya said in monotone.
“Titus James,” Brad said as if it rhymed in sweet melody.
After Tonya saw and herd Brad with Titus the more she knew that Brad needed him as much as he needed Brad. And so with love Tonya sent Brad and Titus two states away. With love Brad and Titus would wait to see if love could come back. But Brad knew the first lesson he would teach Titus, the extra mile.


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