Dear Ruslan

Submitted by Rhondalise Mitza to Contest #24 in response to: Write a sweeping romantic tale of two lovers who must overcome the horror of being hunted by an unseen foe.... view prompt

   

    Dear Ruslan,


The doctors told me you wouldn’t remember me when you woke up. I walked into the hospital room and saw you and I felt like crying but I knew we had better things to do. So I sat by your bed and held your hands and I tried to will you to wake up but you still haven’t. I know you will, though. I’m writing you letters in case you don’t remember me. Or yourself. Or you and me and what me mean to the world. Because it’s all bigger than me loving you and you knowing why. I’llalways love you even if you move to Jupiter and marry five aliens with names I can’t pronounce. I’m writing letters because when you wake up, if you don’t remember who we are and what we were doing, well, there’s a lot more at stake than just us. 

    With more Love than all the hearts in this hospital,

    Evening 


    Dear Ruslan,


    So I guess you decided you were going to be difficult, huh? It’s been almost three days and you show no signs of stirring. The doctors said you’re in a critical condition, but the truth is that you always were, and it had nothing to do with the accident that placed us both here. I’m not mad at you. I just don’t know what to say anymore. You aren’t stupid, Ruslan. You know what’s at stake and you know you can’t leave me now. Well. I know you’ll be up soon. It’s just a matter of time before you sit up and look around.Then you laugh and everything is right in the world. Or you wake up really confused and have no idea who you are and why you’re in the hospital… and who I am and why I’ve been here the whole time, too. If that happened I would have to explain to you how we met, but since if that happened I would also be too busy crying to talk to you, I’m going to write it in my next letter. 

See you in the morning, 

Evening 


    Dear Ruslan, 

   

    I met you at the gas station down the road from your college. I was on my way to work at the daycare and my car was low on gas, as my car often is. I drove into the gas station and started pumping the gas, when it suddenly occurred to me that I desperately wanted pork rinds. If you don’t remember anything else, remember that I absolutely adore pork rinds. I consume them almost constantly. I didn’t used to, though. No, you were the start of my fascination. I was looking through the window of the gas station while I was waiting for my car to fill, and I saw you standing by the checkout line with your overly fulfilled cart of pork rinds and Twizzlers. It was at that moment when I realized that I was in dire need of supplements. After I let my car fill, I pulled out into the parking lot and all but leaped out of my seat to catch you before you left the gas station. At the time I didn’t know I was trying to catch you, because I had convinced myself I was looking at the food in your cart and not, well, you. But I was, Ruslan. I was always looking at you. How can someone not? You are magnetic, and I was being pulled towards your orbit even as I walked into the gas station. You were leaving as I walked in. You smiled and I faltered, as I usually do when people smile at me because it doesn’t happen all that often. I actually continued to falter at smiling until you asked if I was okay because I’m sure I looked chronically constipated or something. It’s funny to think your first impression of me was “chronically constipated girl from the gas station.” And it was your only impression of me until about two weeks later, when I saw you again at the college’s public BBQ, which I of course went to because I didn’t feel like cooking that afternoon. You were the only one wearing black suit pants and a blazer in the middle of July, despite your wild eyes and blue hair sprawled across your head like you were perpetually just waking up. I was wearing my work uniform of faded, applesauce and ketchup stained jeans and an old garage band t-shirt I found in a clearance pile at Goodwill. You looked otherworldly and I was intimated immensely when you walked over to introduce yourself to me. You told me your name was Ruslan, and I told you my name was Evening Rynheart. You said you liked my name, and I said I liked your hair, even though I could have said I liked anything about you and at that point it would be truth. Now I could name a few things about you that I don’t like; the main one being that you are taking so very long to wake up and help me save the world already! But maybe you need a break, so take your time. Just… hurry a little while you do it, please. Not just for me, for everyone else, too. A few hours after we started talking, you had to leave, but you wrote your number on the inside of my coffee cup and texted me two days later, simply, “Let’s catch a movie. 4 o’clock. I’ll meet you there.” The only reason I even knew which movie theater it was is because our town only had the one, and I didn’t think you would want me to drive two hours away to the next one. We watched the movie, and it was nice, but the really magical  thing happened when we left. You said you weren’t ready for the night to be over, and when I suggested we go for ice cream, you said you had a better idea… and we went to the planetarium instead. That right there made me realize that going in for pork rinds was not a coincidence. It was on purpose, and it was to meet you. A week after that planetarium date, we went on a picnic at the old elementary school and you asked me if I wanted to keep doing this all the time, for a long time, and I said yes, forever. A month after that, we started getting messages from the stars. 

I’m going to go get pork rinds,

Evening 


Dear Ruslan,


The first message came on a Wednesday. We had gone to the planetarium again for our sort of one month anniversary, but really it was just an excuse to see the new program playing. It was all about the stars, and you and I were both obsessed with the sky. We were quiet for once.  Our hands sat still in our laps and my mouth hung slightly ajar. Yours was curved in a smile that glowed with the raw eagerness you always possessed. We made it through half the program before hearing the first voice. 

We think you can save it. The world, that is. You have been elected to be the heroes of a century. If you succeed, you win and everything goes back to normal. If you don’t, you’re dead, and sorry. 

I glanced at you again we both knew it wasn’t part of the program. We even bought it online to listen to it by ourselves, but when we did, it became clear that we hadn’t been listening to a recording, but instead the voice was being transmitted live, via the planetarium’s sound system. We contacted others who had been watching the program too, but they hadn’t heard anything out of the ordinary. we decided that we believed the voices were something else. We didn’t know what, but we knew it was something we had to keep listening for. 

I wonder if you hear the voices now, 

Evening


Dear Ruslan, 


The next time I heard the voices were at the daycare. A little girl had an accident and I was in the laundry room getting her a fresh pair of pants when I heard something in the beats of the washing machine. It was a normal rhythm at first, but it got faster, and louder, and then it stopped almost alltogether and there was a static buzzing. 

Your time has come, Evening. Will you step up to the plate, or will you back away? Decide or die. It’s your choice. 

    I dropped the laundry and sat on the ground for a good seven minutes before calling you. When I did, you said you were about to call me too. You had been in class and then the teacher’s chalk scratching started to sound like voices, and they told you: What do you care about, Ruslan? Your family? Your girlfriend? What about the world? Because it’s all at stake, pal. It could all go away in a minute. 

   

    We started hearing the stars tell us things all the time, whether we were together or not. And soon we decided that we wanted to do something about it, but just as soon as we did, the voices stopped. And then one day, when we both were thinking maybe they were gone for good and we’d be okay, we decided we’d go get some pork rinds from the gas station. As soon as we opened the bag and started eating them, the first voice crackled over the television and said: You have to make sure the art gallery closes tonight. 

That’s all it said, though, and not knowing how, we overlooked our concerns and decided we would try it. You told me that the biggest art show of the year was going on in New York that evening, and if the voices weren’t talking about that one, he couldn’t be sure what else they were talking about. The only thing was, we live in Minnesota, and a flight to New York is too expensive for most college students to afford. It was way too long to drive, though, and if the voices were right, it wouldn’t matter whether we were broke or not. So you booked the flight. We got to the art gallery two hours before the show was set to start, and we still had no clue what we were going to do to stop the show from happening. I said maybe we could kidnap the host, but you told me we were trying to save the world, not get arrested. So I nodded and then tried to think of a plausible idea. You see, I had bought pork rinds in the airport, and I was still snacking on them on the bus we were riding to get to the gallery. The idea was: Food poisoning. All the artists and their prospective buyers were going to be eating at the hotel across the street from the gallery. If they all got a mysterious illness… well, the show would have to close. We got off the bus and snuck into the hotel’s kitchen, dressed as staff. Once we got in, we told the crew we were new to the team and got to work. I had shark poison in my bag, and I poured a steady stream into the pot of cabbage soup the attendees were set to eat. Then, I made sure I was one of the people serving the soup, and we made sure everyone had a healthy helping. Needless to say, the art show didn’t happen, and it was a good thing too, because the next morning, a fire had ravaged the whole building, and if there had been anyone there, people would have died. She voices were telling the truth, but we were the only ones who could hear them. 

It’s been almost a week now, 

Evening



Dear Ruslan, 


I’m so sorry. 

I’m sorry for everything I couldn’t stop, and everything I did to bring this upon you. I didn’t mean it and yet I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself. I am sorry, and all I can give you now is the truth. 


Three months into our saving the world from an unknown doom, you decided things were getting dangerous. We had just come back from Philadelphia, where we had stopped an armed robbery. I thought it had gone off really smoothly, but you were concerned that things were getting out of hand. We’ve had our fun, you told me. We’ve played heroes long enough, you said. But I said no. No to the concerns that it was getting to be too much for us to handle. No to stopping. No to ever admitting we weren’t enough to stop the end of the world, because if it was coming, we would go with it no matter how many art shows we stopped. And you, Ruslan, you looked at me with tears in your wild gray eyes and you told me you were tired of saving the world. It wasn’t because you weren’t brave. It was because you didn’t know what good we were doing anymore. Yes we stopped robberies, and yes we saved lives but in the grand scheme of everything, what good was it? People still hated each other and countries still fought and worlds still collided too fast for us. You weren’t scared. I was, though. I was really scared that the only thing holding us together was that we had this purpose in common. ButI overlooked all the little things. I missed what we were at the foundation, and this led to believe we were built on sand. It wasn’t though. We were concrete, weren’t we? And that’s why it hurt so hard when we hit the ground. Like I said, the truth is all I can give you now. 


The last time we both heard the voices was on that Saturday morning. We were sitting on the couch watching morning cartoons and eating pork rinds, when the lights suddenly went out. You grabbed my hand and told me to stay there while you went to check what had happened, but then you didn’t end up leaving because we heard the voice. Well done, Evening and Ruslan. We are pleased with your work. Your next job is to make sure the train gets to the station safely. Do this, and you will be regarded as legends. I looked at you, and you sighed. We were going to save the train, apparently, and I was excited. I thought this might be the last time, and then we both would be happy. I didn’t think it would be the last time I saw you awake, though.

I’ll write more later,

Evening 


Dear Ruslan,

So, this is it. Here is the climax and ending all in one, even though I hope in reality it’s actually just the beginning. Because I don’t think our story is supposed to be over quite yet. 

We were walking down the track and we didn’t know exactly what we were supposed to do. You looked at me and you said, I hope this works out because I really love you. And I said, yeah, love you too. That’s always bothering me, actually. The way that I said that. I didn’t say “I love you too.” I said “yeah, love you too.” There wasn’t even an I involved, and now I know that’s because I was being selfish and I was focused on doing what the voices told us to do. But I do. I love you too. 

The weird thing about the voices was that they never told us why we had to do something. They just expected us to run with it, and we did. Especially in this case, where we were literally running beside a moving train. We didn’t even know what we were supposed to be making a plan for, but I think that’s what made it appealing to me. It was bold and reckless and it was an adventure and I thought it was all so sweepingly romantic. I thought they’d write books about us. I didn’t think it could possibly be an obituary they would be writing instead. I was running, and you were running, and there was a different tone to the whole situation. The train was roaring past us. It was going too fast. We had to make sure it got to the station safely and we had to jump on the train to do that. I was pretty sure something had happened to the driver, but that was okay because who couldn’t figure out how to drive a train on short notice? If anyone, you could.  I yelled at you to jump, but I didn’t look back to see if you had made it when I jumped onto the train myself. I turned back just in time to see you falling, your hands slipping and your wild gray eyes now wild with fear, frozen with terror. And I was frozen between jumping off the train to save you or staying on the train to save those people. Can you guess who I chose? Sometimes the voices were louder than my heart was. I saved ninety seven people, including the driver who had fallen asleep in the lull of the quiet night. The one person that I couldn’t manage to save was you. Yes, I called the ambulance. Yes, I drove to the hospital in that ambulance with you. Yes, I’ve been here ever since that day, writing you letters I don’t know if you’ll ever get to read, but that doesn’t matter. None of it matters if you never wake up. If (when) you wake up, I hope we never hear a star speak again. It wasn’t worth this. If you don’t remember anything else after reading this, know that I’d rather never have met you than to hurt you again.

Forever,

Evening 








   

   

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