Finish That Thought #7


Rachel was the most beautiful woman I had never met. To hear Adam tell it, she outshone the stars in the sky and transcended time and space. But the three days we’d spent in the waters of the south Pacific after our boat had been torpedoed ruined the picture he’d kept in his breast pocket, and now it was just a mess of light and shadow in a vaguely humanoid shape. I envied Adam, having someone waiting back at home. I didn’t. My mom had died when I was born, and my dad didn’t care about me any more than I cared about him, and just as soon as the cops wouldn’t hassle either of us, I was gone. And then the war, and the draft, and the Navy.

Adam talked endlessly about Rachel. They’d grown up together in Brooklyn, and he had thousands of tales. For the days we spent in the water, and then the weeks we spent on that rock someone probably laughingly called an island, he built their world for me, spinning a reality I could never have imagined, and which he never asked about. I could see his mother’s kitchen, could smell the kreplach cooking on the stove. I could hear her father’s workshop, and feel the strength in his hands as he welcomed visitors to his home. But most of all, I could see Rachel. The photograph was nothing but a vague memory, but through his stories, she came alive to me – the third person on our rock.

We survived on raw fish and seaweed – if the damned Japanese could do it, so could we – but we didn’t do very well. I was weak; Adam was sick. Something was eating him from the inside out, and the only thing sustaining him was Rachel. As ill as he got, he never stopped smiling when he talked about her.

I didn’t fall in love with her – that would have been unthinkable, like falling in love with your brother’s wife. But I sure loved her. The strength which he drew from her, half a world away, was a connection to a human I didn’t know was possible.

From the day he had gotten sick, it was inevitable that he wouldn’t make it without rescue. There were no last-minute gasping declarations, like you see in the movies. He was just gone when I woke up one morning. I put her faded picture in his hands and rolled him off to the deepest part of the water around our rock.

I thought about looking her up when I got back to the states, but she wasn’t my girl. The Navy would have delivered the telegram, and she would have grieved. I didn’t need to mess with that. But she was with me when I met Carol, supported me when I doubted that I could love. And she’s with me now as I slip into my own deep water. I love my wife, but Rachel truly outshone the stars.


2 Responses to “Finish That Thought #7”

  1. I enjoyed your story. I feel as though it could be nonfiction. Rachel is tough competition.

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