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           Twenty-eight-year-old James Dougherty waited on a bench for the #224 bus to arrive. Things hadn’t been going so well for him lately and James decided that it was time to start over, so he walked away from his family, his friends, and his job, but especially from the woman that he had spent the last five years with. James and his wife, Cheryl were blissfully in love before they married, but things had quickly changed for the worse once they tied the knot. It began with arguments over finances, then continued with a jealous streak when James would go out with his male friends. Recently, James had suspected that Cheryl had been having an affair and instead of discussing his concerns with her, James had flat-out accused her of sleeping with a friend of his. Nothing was the same after that day and the marriage fell apart.

           Sitting beside James on the bench was an elderly man. He appeared to be in his late 80s, and despite his obvious physical ailments, the man smiled broadly. James introduced himself to the elderly gentleman and the man responded by saying that his name was Angus Daniels. His hand trembled uncontrollably as he reached out to shake the hand of the young man sitting next to him.

           “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir,” James began. “I can’t help but notice how happy you appear, and I was wondering if you would care to share the secret of your happiness?”

           The proud Mister Daniels raised his chin towards the sky, closed his eyes, and seemed to glow as the sun began to shine upon his greyish, wrinkled skin. He then lowered his head, faced James, and his blue eyes began to sparkle when he started speaking.

           “Well, young man, let me tell you a story. It begins back in my youth. I was just a wee lad of sixteen when I met her. Julie Abernathy was a mere six months younger than me. Her long, red hair reminded me of warm flames that always seemed to remove the chill from the air when she entered a room. Julie had just moved to town with her parents, and I offered to show her around. There was an instant attraction and our friendship soon blossomed into love. Neither of us could go a day without seeing one another. It was if we were each other’s addiction and we craved one another’s company. We followed one another through college and five years later, we married. You know that not a single day had passed that we did not kiss each other and express our love to one another.”

           Angus paused a moment as his mind seemed to drift off to a distant location before he continued with his story. James was envious of the relationship that Angus and Julie had and it reminded him of the love that he and Cheryl had felt when they had first met.

           “We had our first child, Henrietta ten months after we married. It was difficult at first since neither of us had any experience raising children. We were both the only children in our families, so we didn’t even have siblings to learn from. Henrietta had a few complications as an infant regarding her breathing but after treatment, her body grew stronger and her breathing had improved.

           Kevin was our second born. Kevin had a disruptive spirit from the day he was born and kept us awake with his crying until he was about 3-years-old.

           We debated whether or not we should stop having children after the difficulties we had with the first two, but in the end, we decided to try once more. Nine months later, Bryan was born. This time we had been truly blessed. Bryan was healthy and so very sweet.

           All three of our children went on to excel in school and each went on to college. Henrietta became a surgical nurse, Kevin became a veterinarian specializing in farm animals, and last but not least was Bryan. He grew up to become a very successful prosecuting attorney and is now married with three children of his own. Kevin and Henrietta were in and out of relationships all of their lives but were never able to settle down for very long.

           My wife, Julie became ill soon after our 50th Anniversary and was bedridden. Her body slowly began to shut down after she developed Multiple Symptom Atrophy, a rare, degenerative neurological disorder that affected her body’s involuntary functions. Her blood pressure fluctuated daily and her breathing was very labored after the simplest task. She began to lose control of her bladder and began to lose the use of basic motor functions. Things that we take for granted like eating or getting out of bed became a challenge if they were possible at all. There were only a few places in the world capable of treating this disorder; one of which was The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Julie spent several months going through treatments and suffering from each movement she made, until one morning as I arrived at the clinic and entered her room, and that is when my life had been changed forever. I looked into her green eyes and she smiled. A moment later, Julie’s heart had stopped and her monitor had flatlined.”

           A tear began to roll down the cheek of Angus as he recalled the devastating moment that he lost the love of his life. James began to get choked up as well.

           Angus continued, “God gained a beautiful angel that day. I was beside myself for the longest time before considering how much she had suffered. I decided that it was easier to accept that she was no longer in pain and never would hurt again.

           I was laying in my bed a few days following the funeral and was thinking of all of the wonderful times that Julie and I had experienced. Suddenly, I felt a warmth pass over and through my body. Seconds later, a yellowish glow appeared at the foot of my bed which then formed the shape of a woman. Details became more clear and I soon saw that it was a younger version of my beloved Julie. Her hands were stretched out towards me and a smile was on her face. I thought I was dreaming at first, but then my old dog, Sam began to react to the apparition as well. He gazed toward her and began to wag his tail, then let out a friendly bark. Julie had found a way to reconnect with me from beyond the grave to show that our love was not dead even though she had passed on to her Heavenly resting place. Julie’s angelic form began to speak and said that she will wait an eternity for me. Until that day comes, she would continue to watch over me.”

           The tears now flowed steadily down the face of James and he began to think of how different his life could have been if he had done things differently.

           “I’m sorry to hear of your terrible loss, Angus,” James stated. “She sounds like an amazing woman.”

           “Thank you, James. I appreciate your sympathy. Julie was one-of-a-kind and I would never be able to replace her. Our love is eternal and cannot be removed by the ending of our earthly life. I know that I will see her again, and that, my boy, is what keeps me smiling.

           I’m actually on my way to Julie’s gravesite. It would have been our 60th Anniversary today and I want to spend it with my love.

           The bus pulled up in front of the stop and James was so caught up in the story, that he almost didn’t notice until the driver opened the door and spoke up. James looked up and began to stand. He turned to Angus and reached out a hand to assist him standing. Angus sat quietly with his eyes closed. James called out his name, but Angus did not respond. He lightly shook Angus by the shoulders, and again there was no response. He turned to the bus driver and asked him to call an ambulance. James then searched for a pulse, but there was none.

           The ambulance showed up a few minutes later, but the EMS attendants were unable to revive Angus. A coroner was called to the scene and he was officially determined to be deceased. James laid a hand upon the hand of Angus and said, “Rest in peace dear Angus. Go be with Julie, and may eternity together be as wonderful as your life here on earth was. Thank you for the short time we were able to share.”

           James did not board the bus, but instead, he returned to his home. He paused at the front door, knocked, and waited for the door to open. Cheryl soon answered the door, and when she saw that it was James, she started to shut the door on his face. James spoke up and said, “Cheryl, please wait. I’m truly sorry.”

           Cheryl reopened the door and stared back at James. She could see that his eyes were bloodshot, but he didn’t smell of alcohol, so she asked if he had been crying. James began to tell her of his conversation with Angus and his untimely death. Cheryl listened intently and eventually asked James to come in so they could talk. James apologized profusely for all of the stupid things that he had said and done during their marriage and he asked if they could start again. He told her that he wanted things to be back to the way it was before they got married.

           “The first thing I need to do is go ask for my job back, and then I want to take you out on a date like in the old days. What do you say? You pick the place and I will promise to treat you with respect and love from this moment on.”

           Cheryl agreed and later that evening, they went out for a romantic dinner followed by a walk down by the pier in the moonlight. James held her tightly as the waves crashed along the rocky shore and with sincerity in his voice, he said, “Cheryl, even if you didn’t agree to start over again, I wouldn’t have given up trying, because you are worth the wait. I love you.”

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12 comments

K Lengling
01:36 Jul 19, 2020

What a good heartfelt story. Made me want to learn more of the older man's life. Thanks for sharing this story!

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Greg Gillis
00:51 Jul 20, 2020

Thank you for such a wonderful reply.

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Suki Broad
11:52 Jul 16, 2020

Nice story! Great idea that's been fleshed out well and nicely contained to a few characters on a bus. I think it might benefit further from using a 'show don't tell' approach. Try showing us James's back story through his actions and words instead of telling us his whole history in one paragraph at the beginning. He could receive a text from Cheryl about an argument they had while waiting at the bus stop, or maybe he could be making a reservation at a hotel signifying his yearn to leave?? Otherwise I really enjoyed it!

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Greg Gillis
14:07 Jul 16, 2020

Those are excellent suggestions, thanks. 😁

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Shawn Bills
00:49 Jul 16, 2020

I like happy endings. There is too much misery in the world, so thank you for that. We never know when someone we stop to talk to will hold answers that we need, or perhaps, we will have answers or insight they need. Nice story.

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Greg Gillis
14:23 Jul 16, 2020

Thank you Shawn. I agree that with all of the negativity in the world, we need to find positivity wherever and whenever possible.

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Joanne X
23:16 Jul 11, 2020

Hi Greg, nicely written story! I like how well developed and sophisticated your writing style is and I really enjoyed reading the story of Angus passing down his life learned wisdom to a younger soul. Angus' story was so well described that I really did feel sorrow when James had discovered that he had passed away. However, his death re-ignited James' flame and was able to bring him a bit of happiness. Nicely written! :)

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Greg Gillis
14:08 Jul 12, 2020

Thank you very much. I try to write from the heart using my pain and joy to create a story that will hopefully be relatable to others.

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Anna Chidiac
18:32 Jul 11, 2020

Beautiful story. ^_^

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Greg Gillis
20:58 Jul 11, 2020

Thank you 😁

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Kate Alexandra
18:10 Jul 11, 2020

This story was wonderfully written! The way you connected the stories of James and Agnus was very sweet. I think adding more descriptions of Angus’s sadness in between his paragraphs of dialogue (such as a wistful look in his eyes etc. ) would give of better picture of what Agnus was truly feeling. All and all you story was well written. Your ending was wonderful, James’s character development was spot on! Xoxo Kate

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Greg Gillis
21:31 Jul 11, 2020

I truly appreciate the kind words as well as the suggestion for a more descriptive story. 😁

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