Endless Love

Submitted for Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic romance.... view prompt

46 comments

Sep 25, 2020

Adventure Drama Romance

I don't pick up the mail. I don't pick up the phone. I don't answer the door. I‘d just as soon be alone. I don't keep this place up. I just keep the lights down. I don't live in these rooms. I just rattle around.


Ghost In This House,

Shenandoah 


When the apocalypse hit no one else could see it, not really. They came to the funeral, sent cards, and dropped off casseroles never knowing they were witnessing a post-apocalypse that consisted of one zombie. The day Monique died was the end of John’s world even if the rest of the world didn’t know.


Cancer sucks. It doesn’t just take your life; it steals your soul, everything you hold dear. Monique had been a wedding crasher, and a funeral crasher, and a graduation crasher. If there was a party or gathering Monique would crash it. Nothing could contain Monique until "The Big C" put an end to her escapades. She was bound to her bed while the disease attacked her breasts and lungs and lymph nodes and liver. Through it all she never complained, not once. She was herself to the end.


John had met Monique at a cafe in Pamplona, Spain. He had gone there to run with the bulls. John was known for doing crazy things. He was an extreme skier, a motorcycle enthusiast, and had tried his hand at stock car racing. He had a bucket list before most people had a shopping list. He was going to sneak up a pyramid and stand on every continent in the world. John loved it when his heart was racing and his mind was on autopilot but that day he discovered there was no thrill like Monique.


He was sitting alone at an outdoor table doing one of the things he loved best: people watching. John knew everyone had a story and he would try to read them in the few moments before they would leave his view.


It was at that table that he'd first seen Monique. She was wearing a sundress with spaghetti straps that revealed the figure God had given her and she was too beautiful for him to avoid staring. A good people watcher should be able to stare without being noticed. They move their glance around and watch where someone is going rather than where they are. John could do none of that with Monique and she had caught him staring straight away. Once John had been caught there was no reason to stop so he fixed his sights on her as she walked right up and kissed him.


That was Monique; that was his last first kiss. She then sat down, ordered a coffee, and the rest was their history. John never completed the run, in fact, he never lived any of his wild adventures but he didn’t count it as a loss. Monique was the puzzle piece that filled the hole in his soul. She was his bucket list.  


Life with Monique was never dull, she was a force of nature. She had her own gravitational field and that magnetism had drawn John in and he never left. She gave him two children, (a boy, and a girl) and a life most would die for. John never felt the breath of a bull at his back but he felt the touch of love in his heart. He never felt the hot sands of Egypt or saw the pyramids but he was able to build a life filled with love and that was more than enough. Monique completed his ledger but now she was gone and he was alone, so very alone. All his friends were their friends and he didn’t want to see any of them. All of his hobbies were their hobbies and he didn’t want to do any of them. All of his joys, his pleasures, his dreams were theirs and they all died the day she did. There was nothing left for him to do; nothing that is but to join her.   


Figuring out how to kill yourself isn’t as easy as it seems. There are scores of ways to go but each has its drawbacks so as John set about to choreograph his demise he took particular care to think out each option.


He could shoot himself; he had a gun but it’s so messy and there could be no open casket. He could hang himself but the idea of a rope around his neck as the life drained slowly from his body was even more undesirable than shooting himself. He could jump from the tallest building in town but he didn’t want anything so public. It had to be poison. An overdose of something that would put him into a sleep from which he would never wake. That would allow him to go peacefully into the light. It would be his highway back to Monique.    


Getting the drugs to complete the task was easy. John had quite a few left over from Monique's last days. He was supposed to return all unused medication but if he was no longer around to answer for their absence - well that was a problem that would take care of itself.


Deciding when to do it was a little more problematic. John’s son and daughter were still in town. If he waited until they left they would have to buy plane tickets back but if he did it while they were there they would find his lifeless body. It turned out there is a lot to think about when you are going to kill yourself.


Then there was the need for a note. John was a note person; he never did anything without one. “I’m going to the store, I’ll be right back.” “Please take out the trash.” “I’m ordering Chinese for dinner, don’t fill up on junk.” Yes, there had to be a note for his kids. They had to know it wasn’t their fault.  


John hadn’t written a note since Monique’s death. There hadn’t been a reason; he never left the house. As he searched for a pad and pen there were none to be found. This, of course, would not do. He had to find something on which to write his note or he simply could not kill himself. Then he remembered the pad in Monique’s bedside table. She always kept a pad and pen because, like John, she was also a note person.


John made his way to the bedroom and sat down on Monique’s side of the bed for the first time in years. Opening the top drawer of Monique‘s bed side table was harder than John imagined but he was determined. The pad was right on top with a pen also in plain sight. John grabbed both and shut the drawer out of respect. As he flipped the pad open, an envelope fell to the floor startling John but not nearly as much as the note addressed to him on the first page.


My Dearest John,


You found my note. I knew you would. You had to leave a note for the kids. Good for you. If I know you, and I do, you are without hope. You have decided that life without me is not worth living and you couldn’t be further from the truth. You were the love of my life and I know even in death that I was yours but you had dreams before me - dreams a married man can’t fulfill. I want you to do it all for me and with me. You wanted to see the world. You wanted to walk on all seven continents. You wanted to see the pyramids, you wanted to run with the bulls. I want you to do it all. I want you to take this note with you back to Pamplona. I want this note to be in your breast pocket as you get a picture of yourself in front of the pyramids. (Don’t try to climb them, that’s illegal and you could end up in the clink.) Go to every continent on earth and do all the things you would have done if we hadn’t met and bring this note and the memory of me with you. You were always my rock, my true north. You gave yourself to me in a way that we became one. I want to give this gift back to you. If you love me say yes. Did you say yes? I can’t hear. If you did, please look in the envelope. You will find a ticket to Spain to begin your journey. The rest is up to you, but don’t stop until you’re done. Oh, and don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here waiting for you. I love you forever and throughout time.


Monique 


Not since Monique had walked up and kissed him on his trip to Pamplona had John felt so unsettled. She'd done it again. She had reached up from the grave to give him life for the second time and he said to her spirit, “Yes.” He then picked up the pen and wrote a note to his children.  


I’m going to the store to pick up stuff for my trip to Spain. There’s a casserole in the refrigerator. I’ll see you when I get back.


Love Dad.


And with Monique's note in hand, he headed to the car to prepare for their adventure.


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46 comments

Kathleen March
11:20 Oct 07, 2020

What to say? Another great take on a loving relationship. Excellent timing as you mpve through the story. Once again, you focus on love and loss in a way that teaches readers it is possible to do the right thing under miserable circumstances .

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Thom Brodkin
12:46 Oct 07, 2020

I love the idea of love that overcomes all. It is a goal to which we all should aspire. I can't say thank you enough for your time and feedback. I want to get better with every new story and the words of others help immeasurably. Thanks!!!!!

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Ryan Dupont
22:05 Oct 07, 2020

This story was incredible. I really like how you handled this prompt and made it the end of the world, but just for him. Very well thought out and your writing is very skillful. The thoughts he had in his mind after such a tragedy were very understandable and relatable for any of us that have someone in our lives we could not live without. I am glad that it ended the way it did and your ending was very creative - the note from her was written so well, I am sure a few tears were shed by those who read it. It was very powerful.

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Thom Brodkin
23:46 Oct 07, 2020

Thank you so much. I was struggling on this round of prompts because I’m not really a post-apocalyptic guy. I’m glad you enjoyed my solution.

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Jessica Primrose
07:34 Oct 02, 2020

I really loved this story!! I loved the bright upbeat nature combined with the dark themes. I think it blends together perfectly. I also love the tension of not knowing whether or not he is going to kill himself. Truly a heartbreaking concept. I loved how the plot took twists and turns something I always appreciate when reading a story. Continue writing Thom :)

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Thom Brodkin
14:47 Oct 02, 2020

Thank you so much for the read and for taking time to comment. I write to be read and everytime someone gives me feedback it makes my day. Again, thank you!!!

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B. W.
20:44 Sep 30, 2020

Okay, you did a great job with this story and i think that this is a really good story ^^ You also did really good with the Romance part of the story in this as well, i'd probably suck at it. I'm not sure if you want any sort of advice with your stories but i will say this, you should continue to make more stories. though only when you aren't busy. 10/10 :)

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Leslie Phare
01:16 Sep 29, 2020

Fantastic, absolutely touched my heart. This was unexpected, but, the loss of someone so close is an apocalypse in itself. The details made this story so beautiful, that they were both note people. I just love it.

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Thom Brodkin
02:42 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you so much. I was afraid of this weeks prompt because I’m not really good at post apocalyptic stories so this was my solution. I’m really flattered you enjoyed it.

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Deidra Lovegren
22:59 Sep 26, 2020

Oh, Thom. What a sweet hopeful romantic you are. Loved this from stem to stern, top to toe. Authentic and wistful. How lovely Monique knew him so well, loving him from beyond time and space. This is what true love is: the ultimate connection. Like any mother, we'd beg our husbands to stay and be the north star, the father, to our adult children. Going on when giving up is so much more inviting. Hugging you from swampy Florida. Wishing I were back in crisp Virginia :) (PS -- Gees. On 1st name terms with Ms. Babbitt? You are popular here.)

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Deidra Lovegren
20:17 Oct 29, 2020

Huh.

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Julie Ward
18:40 Sep 26, 2020

Oh Thom. You did it again. Tears! I love this story, the story of a personal apocalypse. What a great way to handle the prompt. "John had met Monique at a cafe in Pampalona, Spain." This paragraph is perfection to me. I just could not believe that John would go through with his plan, but you wove the story to the point that I almost believed he would. The ending made me so happy. This is great storytelling!

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Thom Brodkin
19:06 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much. I was afraid of this weeks prompts because I don’t have a post apocalypse mind. I’m so happy I was able to find a way to submit this week and get such positive feedback. I haven’t read your story yet but I’m looking forward to it.

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Julie Ward
21:40 Sep 26, 2020

I was afraid of this week's prompts too. Zombies and apocalyptic wastelands are just not my thing. You handled it beautifully!

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Shreya S
15:41 Sep 26, 2020

I love this! I love how you made it an apocalypse, living in a post-apocalytpic world, but only for John. No one else can see it. That shows the extremity to how much he loves her, I think. Brilliant. And its wonderful that Monique's actions show her personality, straight up going to John and kissing him and ordering coffee- that made me realize more about her than simply saying she was a force of nature would. And its amazing how they both know each other so well, Monique being John's bucket list, and Monique writing that beautiful letter...

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Thom Brodkin
17:38 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and your kind words. This story took some evolution to get where it is and I’m so glad I kept at it. I don’t think I’ve seen any of your stories yet but I promise to pop over and give you a read or two. 😀

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Kristin Neubauer
15:29 Sep 26, 2020

Wow, Thom - another amazing tale. I thought this was heading in one direction and you completely, delightfully, surprised me with the discovery of the note. One thing I really like about your stories is how they really leave me thinking. Once I see the full story, I usually sit there for several minutes thinking through the beginning. Your writing really alters and reframes perceptions in so many ways.

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Thom Brodkin
17:39 Sep 26, 2020

I know I’ve said this before but when a writer I find extremely talented pays me a compliment it means so much more and you are just such a writer. Thank you so much for your kind words.

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Zilla Babbitt
13:38 Sep 26, 2020

You invited me to read, so here I am, happily. This is fantastic. You have gotten so much better— this is a delight to read. I love the beginning, adore the ending, and generally treasure the middle. The descriptions of Monique are both funny and serious (somehow) and the vast majority of the necessary backstory ended up natural and wonderful. I also really like how the “post-apocalyptic” part was that his wife died. That would shatter the world for you. I always include a piece of critique in my comments unless it’s a winning story (tho...

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:38 Sep 26, 2020

This is really quite brilliant! You’ve got such a distinctive style and approach that I would’ve recognized this as one of yours even without your name attached. For me, there are two main aspects to a story – what you tell and how you tell it. They’re both important. You’ve got a brilliant, clear way of telling stories, but this one stands out because of what you’ve told. You’ve not just taken a unique look at the prompt, but you’ve made it meaningful and impactful by creating such real characters. It got me thinking a lot about the idea ...

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Thom Brodkin
11:35 Sep 26, 2020

You have, once again, found the perfect words of encouragement. You, for lack of a better phrase, get me and have an ability to convey it in a way that makes me want to start on my next story without delay. As for my dislike of this story, the first thing I’ll say is you didn’t see it before Laura helped me to clean up both the structure and flow. She helped me to get it to a point where I felt I could sit down and edit it and make it better. I like it much better now. I still wish I had more descriptive talent. I rely on the reader to fill ...

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:29 Sep 27, 2020

I still think you need to give yourself a bit more credit. Suggestions can help make a great story greater, but if someone could post a rubbish story and get other Reedsy users to make it brilliant, then that’d kind of defeat the whole purpose. I’m sure the fixes helped, but only because of the underlying strength of the story they were applied to. Descriptions are funny things. You said it perfectly – the reader can fill in the details. And isn’t that what reading is all about? That’s why bookworms always hate the movie versions of their f...

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Thom Brodkin
18:38 Sep 28, 2020

I keep telling myself that. The Beatles and Mozart were both great creators of music but they were nothing alike. Maybe I'm The Beatles. They love me yeah yeah yeah. Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. I do like my writing but it's nice to know I'm not alone. Now go write a story. I'm going through withdrawals.

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:40 Sep 29, 2020

Mozart is spinning in his grave right now. Wait, he is dead, isn't he? I don't know much about painters... *Update: I checked. Mozart is indeed dead. You could say he's de-composing 🤣🤣 To quote Gandalf - "I will submit a story on Reedsy soon. Next week, probably." Was that Gandalf? I don't know, I'm no better with historical figures than I am with famous painters...

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Thom Brodkin
16:43 Sep 29, 2020

That wasn’t Gandalf, it was Abraham Lincoln. Wait maybe they are the same people. I’ve never actually seen them together.

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21:38 Sep 25, 2020

You made me cry! This is a beautifully written gut punch. You are soooo talented. I can't say that enough.

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Thom Brodkin
22:13 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you so much. I am such a fan of your writing so your compliment means so much to me.

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12:15 Sep 26, 2020

Same here! You are so talented that it means the world for you to read my work!

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Jane Andrews
21:04 Sep 25, 2020

Hi Thom. I thought this was a touching and tender story - like Laura, I love the way you took the prompt and wrote about your character’s personal apocalypse - it makes the story far more meaningful. One strength of your writing is that although we hear your authorial voice (quite matter of fact and tell it like it is - remember how I’ve said before I can imagine Morgan Freeman reading your stories out loud as the unseen narrator?), you still incorporate some beautifully lyrical descriptions eg “Monique was the puzzle piece that filled the h...

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Thom Brodkin
22:16 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much your feedback means to me. You and Laura and Jonathan are my rocks. You all make me want to write and write better. I’m an emotional guy so I write what moves me and your kind words move me as well. Thank you.

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Laura Clark
18:41 Sep 25, 2020

Okay so my proper comment that isn’t an editing comment. The reason I haven’t given you many (or any? I can’t remember) content edits is because the structure and plot of this are fantastic. All you need are grammar tweaks. The note that his wife left him nearly made me cry and the fact that she knows him so well to anticipate that exact thing is a lovely way of encapsulating their entire relationship. You do need to put a trigger warning at the beginning though because this is potentially difficult reading - especially the bit where ...

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Thom Brodkin
18:47 Sep 25, 2020

On my worst day, I would come to you for encouragement. Your words always lift me and you care enough to help me improve. If no one else has told you today let me be the first to say you are a wonderfully fantastic person. Thank you. Now I'm off to work on the changes you've suggested. They are all great.

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Laura Clark
18:54 Sep 25, 2020

That is such a beautiful thing to say - thank you so much. Let me know when you've made the changes so that I can read it again and appreciate it a second time. It really is a lovely piece of writing.

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Thom Brodkin
19:17 Sep 25, 2020

I think I got them all. Grammerly didn't suggest any additional punctuation beyond the ones you noticed. Let me know what you think of the change after the crashing part. I changed that a few times and still might need to clean it up some more. Thanks again!!!! PS If I missed any let me know. :-)

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Laura Clark
20:17 Sep 25, 2020

This definitely reads as a more polished piece and I absolutely love the new line about her being his bucket list. It made my heart feel all floaty. (Not in a medically concerning way). I liked the change to the crashing thing too but I’d cut ‘as she called it’ as it’s not really necessary and pulls the reader out for a second. Comma splices that are still there: - It doesn’t just take your life, it steals your soul. - That was Monique, that was his last first kiss. - He could shoot himself, he had a gun but it’s so messy and the...

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Thom Brodkin
20:23 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you, it's better because of you. I almost didn't post this one. I almost deleted it. You made me glad I didn't. :-)

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Claire Lewis
18:24 Mar 17, 2021

I enjoyed the authenticity of the story, especially the way that John and Monique compliment and ground each other, even in death. John’s grief is tangible and touching. I love that you set an apocalypse as a metaphor for grief, and that Monique is the catalyst that begins his healing process. It’s a poetic and fitting conclusion to a beautiful love story. There may have been one or two little edits (I personally always find things after my submissions are approved), but nothing in here detracts from the story’s impact. It’s still incredib...

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Deidra Lovegren
22:58 Oct 23, 2020

Best line: "That was Monique; that was his last first kiss." This is actually my favorite of your stories. The personalities jump of the page, dynamic, vibrant, endearing, engaging. You can spin a character into being! Excellent use of anaphora at the beginning. Internal dialogue is spot on. Excellent use of italics in structuring the piece. Still want to fix the commas, but I'm neurotic that way. Loved it :)

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15:38 Oct 17, 2020

This story is absolutely brilliant. It is sad, heart wrenching, touching, and inspiring all at once.

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Julie Bissell
22:45 Sep 30, 2020

For one horrible second, I thought he was going to find a letter she'd written before her cancer diagnosis - 'I'm leaving you for someone else...' This was a lovely description of a long love affair and how each partner copes with its enforced end. Very nicely paced.

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Thom Brodkin
22:57 Sep 30, 2020

Thanks so much. I wanted there to be a degree of anxiety until the end. I figured the twist was worth the anxiety. 😀

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Deborah Mercer
06:25 Sep 30, 2020

This is a beautiful story and I loved the way you focused in on an apocalypse in one person's life rather than more "universal". This was a moving and thought-provoking take on it. I also liked that though it did come round to a happy ending, there was nothing trite or simplistic about it. Thanks for your comment on my story which led me to the privilege of reading yours!

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Thom Brodkin
15:20 Sep 30, 2020

Thanks so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read.

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Thom Brodkin
15:38 Sep 25, 2020

I really don't like this story but it's Friday and I don't have time to write another. Be brutal. Maybe I can fix it before it's locked in. :-)

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Laura Clark
18:30 Sep 25, 2020

Ha, ok! I will be brutal but I think you’re being too harsh. I’ll do all the fixes in this reply and then do a follow up reply with my likes so that you can start working on the fixes ASAP. So don’t be disheartened by the lack of positives here. They’re coming! - The bits in italics at the start are comma spliced up the kazoo. Most of the commas are joining independent clauses. Replace with full stops or semicolons. - get rid of John’s name in the zombie sentence. We can work it out from context. -in fact, there are comma splices th...

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