Tougher Than Titanium

“Katelyn, can you open your eyes for me? I need you to wiggle your toes.”

Opening my eyes had never been so hard in my entire life. I slightly wiggled my toes. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to know I could still move my legs. In that moment the feeling of relief that flushed through my entire body was enough to mask the excruciating pain that was running frantically up and down my spine. However, it wasn’t long before the pain returned.

It had been eight and a half hours since I was wheeled back into the operating room when I awoke. My clouded memory had me wondering what exactly happened after the anesthesiologist slid the needle of the IV into the top of my hand. It all seemed to happen so fast after saying my goodbyes to my mother, and I can remember that it was in that goodbye-moment when I had realized my life was about to change forever, and I wondered if I was strong enough for this. With a nurse on each side of my bed I was wheeled away. In my mind I was reminding myself, I can do this, after all this is god’s plan for me.

The room smelled sterile and the color blue seemed to be so prominent. It was the gloves, the gowns, and the paper that wrapped the tools used to operate. All of it was blue, and I realized that this had to be the operating room. As I lied there the IV continued to drip. Drifting off I vaguely remember the doctors instructing me, “Just relax, lay back and start counting back from 100.” The very last thing I remember was the reassurance of a happy ending in the warm smiles of everyone surrounding me.

I woke up in recovery with tired heavy eyes. In a weak and raspy voice I quietly asked the nurse checking my blood pressure, “Where’s my mom?”

The pain that overwhelmed my entire body made it difficult to speak. She answered, “She’s in the waiting room. We aren’t ready for her to come back yet.”

Being in such a helpless state, I really needed my mom. The nurses had lost all control of the pain and weren’t letting her come back until it was under control. With pain so extreme my body was being sent into shock. I was shaking in a way similar to someone with low blood sugar. Finding myself struggling to breath I was on the edge of giving up. I repeatedly asked for my mom. What felt like hours of lying in recovery drowning in the pain seemed to pass so slowly before my mom appeared through the strangely patterned baby blue and mint green privacy curtain that separated me from the patient staying in the room next to me. Following close behind was my surgeon, Dr. Farley. She immediately began asking questions. “What is going on?”

With nothing but blank stares coming from the nurses standing around my room, Dr. Farley began giving orders. Quickly the nurses did exactly what they were told. With one hand on my hip and the other on my shoulder, slowly and carefully, I was rolled onto my left side. I closed my eyes, my face cringed, and I let out a quiet painful groan. Lying limp in the white-sheeted twin-sized hospital bed, I couldn’t find the strength to assist in being rolled over.

The pain was excruciating, and I couldn’t breathe, but the helpless feeling that lifted from my heart when my surgeon had finally discovered the problem gave me hope. The epidural that was inserted directly into my back during surgery had formed a blood clot preventing the pain- lifting morphine from entering my body. I was given fair warning by Dr. Farley before the tubing was pulled out: “Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.”

As I exhaled the shallow breath, which I considered to be deep, I could feel the tubing slip out of my back. It felt very similar to the warm, smooth, yet slimy feeling of licking your lips. As I returned to lying flat on my back I helplessly pleaded, “Mommy please help me…”

I watched a tear roll down her face as she held tightly onto my hand and IV medication was finally being started. I was given what the nurses called a “drug cocktail,” slang for a few different medications that were mixed to knock the pain completely out. My mom still holding onto my hand gently ran her free hand across my sweaty forehead. With the drug cocktail and the morphine pump that I could give myself every 30 minutes by simply pressing a button, I once again, much like before surgery, drifted off.

I was at peace in a sleep so deep that I had my nurses worried. Finally, in my room, I could hear my nurse and mother standing over my bed talking to me. However, their voices seemed to blend together.

“Katelyn, can you hear me? I need you to open your eyes.”

“Honey, just look at me.”


I was trying so hard to open my eyes. They felt as if they were glued shut, and opening them seemed to be impossible. I fought and failed to get the words “I can’t” out. When I finally got them opened a crack I was told I needed to keep them open, but I couldn’t, and again they closed. I quit trying, it was too hard, I was too weak, and I really couldn’t do it anymore. For a split second I caught a blurred glimpse of the wall behind my mom. There were colorful cut-out butterflies – an image forever engraved in my memory. With my eyes closed in the midst of the darkness I could still see them. In my mind I questioned, why me? I felt so weak, yet relaxed and with the simple orders from my nurse to keep my eyes open repeated I finally mumbled, “I can’t.

I really can’t do this anymore.”

My body was no longer in shock. In fact, it was in such a state of peace that it didn’t feel the need to function. With my eyes still closed an oxygen mask was placed over my nose and mouth. Involuntarily, I didn’t want to breathe and my heart didn’t feel like beating. Down to six breaths and twenty-one beats a minute, my nurses were on a fine line of waiting it out or treating me for an overdose. They decided for me to wait it out. With all medication shut off and the oxygen mask on my face I went back to sleep.

The next morning I woke up a new person. I don’t know what happened, but my entire mindset changed. Maybe it was the fact that just lying there I felt my back flat against the bed for the first time in six years. There was no lump, no twist, and as I ran my hands down my body I felt no right rib or left hip prominence. The pain returned with a vengeance, and medications were turned back on, but one thing I knew for sure was that I had defeated scoliosis. With two rods, two hooks, and nineteen screws I considered what I had to be a brand new spine. A nice, stiff, straight, titanium spine, and I decided that I needed to take this on with a stronger mindset. It had still been less than twenty-four hours after surgery when I was asked by my nurses if I’d like to try sitting on the edge of my bed. After having an evening like I did the day prior, who was I to doubt myself? I listened closely as I was instructed on what to do: “Bring your left hand over here, grab the side rail and try to pull yourself up onto your side.”

The nurse had one hand on my shoulder and the other on my hip assisting me in rolling to my side. From there she explained, “While still hanging onto the side rail with your right hand, use your left to push yourself up.” Just like that I was sitting up. I hung my head and closed my eyes, but I was quickly instructed not to do so. The blackness had become my comfort zone. I lifted my head back up and opened my eyes. There on the wall in front of me were the butterflies. The view from my room was beautiful, the window seemed to take up half my room, and the sun felt so warm on my face. I sat there for a minute and remember thinking to myself, wow, I’m sitting up.

My nurse asked me, “How are you feeling?”

“Okay,” I answered.

After sitting there for a few more minutes I asked, “Can I walk?”

The look on her face said it all. “Would you like to try to?” I nodded my head, yes.

It took a moment of preparation to be able to stand. With my nurse’s hands around my waist I stood up. I watched as my mom’s hands covered her mouth in shock. She didn’t speak a word, but I could see the relief she felt through the excitement she showed. The heaviness that took over my body felt like I had a backpack on with every hard cover book I owned inside. I was wobbly, but my nurse loosened her grip she had on me. Once again she asked, “How are you feeling?”

I nodded my head reassuring her that I was okay.

“Would you still like to try and take a couple of steps?” she asked me.

I didn’t answer verbally. Instead I slightly and slowly lifted my right foot and put it in front of my left. Just like that I took my first step. I did the same with my left. I lifted it and placed it in front of my right foot. I heard my mom’s voice clearly for what felt like the first time since we had said our goodbyes going into surgery the morning prior. “K-Kate-Katelyn you’re walking… Are you okay? Oh my goodness, honey, you look amazing!”

I looked at her and smiled. She was already smiling. I couldn’t believe it; just the day before I was giving up on simply opening my eyes. I settled for I can’t and now today I was walking. It took that much, but just like that I learned to not doubt my strengths. I’m nowhere near the average person with a titanium spine, but when given a challenge I take it with a “bring it on” type of attitude. After all, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).


Katelyn Treichel


The line outside of the mall was large. It was larger than what William Durant wanted. Fans of his were lined up, waiting in the hot California sun to get their hands on a copy of his newest selfhelp book. William was a pro at writing these books. He’s written five of them so far, each one making it onto The New York Times’s bestseller list, but not in the spot that he wanted them to be. He wanted to be number one. At a whopping fifty-five, William considered himself to have “one foot in the grave.” His aid, however, thought he was just scratching the surface.

“William,” Rebecca Lewis said to him, guiding him to his car. “Right this way, sir. That’s it.”

His taps on the ground with his cane went unnoticed due to the sound of people applauding as he exited the mall. He wasn’t a big shot, but these book signings made him feel like he was. It made him feel less of a freak. It made him feel normal. At the age of eight, William had gone blind. No one knew the cause of it. His parents didn’t have the money needed for the operation to potentially save his vision.

“They love me, doll.” William smiled. “They really love me.”

He waved his hand in the air while tapping his cane with the other hand, saying goodbye to his adoring fans. He’s touched many lives with his books, mainly the older crowd. He had done his time and the signing went okay—so he’s told. Rebecca opened the door for him and helped him into the backseat. William was having the time of his life. He’d always been the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Some would even say that people took it “easy” on him because of his blindness.

“You did awesome, Bill,” his publicist, Martin Weston, said from the passenger’s seat.

Martin was made to be a publicist. He’d helped a lot of authors make it to the top of the writing world. He and William had been a team for five months now and Martin had promised him major success. Martin had ridden the coattails of many authors in the past. He saw something special in William’s writing and his ability to connect with people.

“All right, Bill, we need to continue this wave of momentum!” Martin said.

“You have no idea how I feel right now, Marty. I feel amazing!” William folded his cane in half.

On the other side of the backseat, behind the driver’s side, Rebecca got in and sat next to William. William felt the seat slightly sink and a big smile crept on his face. Martin told the driver to head back to William’s house. Rebecca took her long black hair out of the ponytail that it was in and shook her head. Her slick, long, black hair fell from her head, around her ears, and face like a beautiful silk curtain.

This had been a long day for everyone involved. Rebecca was twenty-three years old. William found her through some living aid agency that his doctor recommended. They’ve been together for two years now—professionally and romantically.

“So, what did you think?” William asked.

After every meet and greet, he always asked what she thought. He cared about what she thought. He cared a lot more about what she thought than what Martin thought.

“I’m telling you, you did great!” Martin laughed.

It was a good thing that this vehicle came with a divider. Rebecca pressed a button on the door’s handle, separating them from Martin and the driver. They wanted some privacy, and, to get away from Martin’s prying ears and eyes.

“It was fine, Will. You did excellent,” Rebecca tugged at her name-tag, bringing it out a long string before snapping it back. “William, I think we need to talk.”

William couldn’t see her face but he could hear her somewhat cheerful tone fade away and become almost monotonous. He’s heard this tone before—way more than he probably should have.
“Go ahead. I’m listening.” William tapped his fingers lightly on the seat. He was trying to find her leg to place a reassuring hand on it. He didn’t want her to feel like he was going to be upset and become angry.

“It’s about this. It’s about us.”

Rebecca noticed his hand getting closer and closer to her thigh. She scooted away from him, almost pinning herself against the door of the car. She regretted what she was going to tell him, but this was a perfect time to tell him because they were alone and not being smothered by Martin or William’s fans.

“This can’t go on anymore. We can’t keep this up…”

William gave up the search for her almost instantly after feeling the seat shift away from him. They discussed their secret romance and the fact that she’s still young, vibrant, and looking for adventure—adventure William couldn’t provide. She explained to him that he was becoming a hermit. Today’s outing was the first time William had left the house in over two months. He sat on the decent money he’d made off his five books instead of reaping the fruit of his labor, enjoying life.

They pulled up to William’s red, decent-sized home. The house was surrounded by large trees to provide him with privacy, to provide him seclusion from the “wicked, two-faced world” as he once said. The two cars in the driveway belonged to Martin and Rebecca. The long driveway was put in place to tire people out and make them want to turn back. This was a house built off disability checks and book royalties.

Nobody knew where William lived. He stopped talking to what was left of his family some years ago because of their habit of asking for this and needing that. It was he, Martin, and Rebecca, the only people he would allow “in” to his life—into his world.

They stopped in front of William’s front porch. William fumbled around, trying to find the door handle. He whipped his cane out first, extending it before tapping around to make sure he was on solid grounds. Martin got out and bid the driver farewell.

“Ah, this has been quite a day,” Martin stretched with a big smile. He loosened his purple tie, letting it hang from his neck.

He was the only one happy about today. William’s happiness was ripped out from underneath him, much like his heart, during the car ride.

“What’s wrong with you two?” Martin asked.

“Nothing. Everything is fine,” Rebecca lied. “I—I need to go.”

Rebecca walked up to William and stood on her toes. Her scent traveled with her and William found himself engulfed by the perfume that he’d bought her back around her birthday in May.

She planted a kiss on his forehead. “Take care of yourself, William.”

Rebecca walked with her head down to her dark blue Ford Focus. She started it up and drove off, leaving them in her dust.

“What’s wrong, Billy?” Martin asked.

Behind his dark shades, Martin could see that William had been crying. It’s something that hasn’t gone away with his vision. He’d spent many nights wondering why and pleading to a higher power to put an end to his misery. That’s when he knew his life was more meaningful, because he was still alive, still living his “miserable life.” His decision to write—or have someone write for him— was based on his still being alive after numerous attempted pill overdoses.

“I’m fine, Martin. Can you lead me to the door?” William asked.

“Well, wasn’t that chick supposed to be doing this?”

“I don’t want to talk about it, Martin.”

Martin took him by the arm, and they walked up to the big white door. William reached into his sports coat and brought out his keys, handing them to Martin. The door opened and William stormed in without saying excuse me after nudging Martin against the door’s frame. He threw his cane to the ground, and it bounced off the laminate wood floor.

“Come on, Bill, something is wrong.” Martin said, closing the door.

“I said NOTHING is wrong!”

Martin threw his hands up before placing the keys on the stand by the door. William used his hands to guide his way into the kitchen. He waved around for the bottle of Jack Daniels that he kept on the counter. The Jack was for the celebration he’d planned to have after today’s signing. The celebration he planned to have with Rebecca and not with Martin.
He took a big gulp of the brown liquid. It burned going down, but it was a good burn. He let out a groan before slamming the bottle down on the ceramic tiled counter. “Son of a bitch,” William said. “I hate this. I hate all of this.”

“What? What do you hate?” Martin picked up William’s cane from the floor.

Martin was curious as to what happened in the backseat. He could hear their conversation faintly but he wasn’t able to make out what was going on.

“What happened back there?”

“Marty, I’m sick of letting people in. I’m sick of these…these floozies coming into my life and taking away from me.”

“What did she do? I don’t understand.” He placed the cane on the counter next to William.

“As usual, Martin, you don’t understand. The only thing you understand is green and how much of it you have. All you understand is how much you can make off of me with these ridiculous signings that YOU KNOW I despise.” William took another swig from the bottle, slamming it down again.

“I think you need to slow down,” Martin said. “I think you need to slow down and tell me what happened. I’m trying to be a friend here.”

William scoffed. This would be the first time that Martin has ever wanted to genuinely know what’s going on in William’s life. Before, Martin would only call or stop by every so often to find out how far along William was with his book and if he was ready to make a public appearance. If it were up to William, he wouldn’t ever come out of the house to meet with people and shake hands and listen to them explain how his books changed their outlook on life.

“Nothing is going on, Marty. Nothing is going on…”

They stood there in silence for a moment. William wasn’t sure if he could trust him. For his entire life, he’s been left in the cold by plenty of women but this time, this time was different.

Rebecca wasn’t just another woman; she was the woman for him. Their age difference didn’t mean a damn thing to him because he fell in love with her for who she was. And she loved him—so he thought.

“She’s moving back to Minnesota in two weeks,” William placed both hands on the counter, dropping his cane to the floor. “She’s quitting her job here and she’s leaving me, Martin. She’s gone.”

Martin leaned against the brown leather couch. “That Rebecca chick?”

“Don’t say it like that, Martin.”

Martin let out a nasally chuckle.

“And don’t laugh at me either,” William said.

“I’m not laughing at you, Bill. I’m laughing at the situation. That girl is YOUNG! She’s still full of it.”

“That’s what she said to me in the car. She said she wanted an adventure… an adventure I can’t provide,” William pounded his fist on the counter. “She wants to ‘spice her life up’ and I can’t do that for her.”

“Listen, Billy, I think you should forget about that. Forget about all of that and let’s not allow today go to waste. We had a good turn-out and everything’s going to be all right!”

An unseen mischievous smile broke out over Martin’s face.

“I have some girls we could call and everything will be just fine. Don’t worry about it!”

“You say that now,” William said under his breath.

Martin reached into his sports coat and brought out his cell phone. Going in and searching for numbers, he walked outside with the device pressed to his ear. He was going to make sure that his “friend” had a good time tonight despite having his heart broken by “the one.” Martin was always looking to have a good time in spite of William’s recluse and sociopathic personality.

William stood at the counter; tears rolled down his face as he tried to fight the feeling of being alone. This would be the first time in two years that he’s truly felt alone. This had been a feeling he’d had all his life because nobody understood him or they took advantage of him because of his disability. He’d always felt alone, and it had never been an issue for him. But once he met Rebecca, he unintentionally forgot how to be alone.

Rebecca spent days, nights, weeks, and even months with him. She would even spend time off the job with him. She got to know him and she fell in love with him despite of his disability— or so it seemed. But her love for him was just a playful and curious phase of her wanting to be with an older man. It gave her something to talk about with her girlfriends whenever they’d go out on the town. Her mission was accomplished. She no longer found enjoyment out of being with him and listening to his wild stories about high school and college. She no longer found it interesting to know what he thought.

She would often be bored with the stories and tried to make it seem like she was interested by saying “yeah” every few words. She knew that he wasn’t able to see her face and how uninterested she was at dinner dates. He wasn’t able to see her wandering eyes lock on to other guys as they passed them in public settings. If William could see, he would notice that she wasn’t into his stories or into him anymore.

He reached around the counter, feeling with his hand for a glass. His fingers touched the book that he had placed on the counter earlier in the day. Everything on the cover was in braille. It was one of his self-help books titled Riding the Tornado: How to Control Your Spiraling Life. He shouted in anger, frustrated with the life he’d built for himself and the lies. He knocked the book from the counter and it smacked on the floor. He took another swig of Jack Daniels and let out another grunt before drying his face with his sleeve.


The night went by in a flash. The house smelled of pot, booze, and sweat. The living room and kitchen were trashed from the wild gathering. Red cups, beer cans, and napkins littered the floor. The ceramic counter-top was cluttered with pizza boxes and potato chip bags. William partied like he was young again. Martin invited some of his friends in the industry to William’s house for the party. William didn’t want to party. He just wanted to be alone, but Martin suggested that this party would be “good for him” and that he needed to “live a little.” While he was partying and having fun with people he’d met once or never met at all, the one thing he could think about was Rebecca.

Everyone—including Martin—had left as soon as he passed out in the middle of the night on the couch. He had one foot planted firmly on the floor to balance on the small couch. The house was silent and the birds were chirping faintly outside. From the kitchen, he heard someone fumbling around with a trash bag.

“Hello?” William coughed. It tasted like nicotine and booze.

“Oh, hi,” a female voice said. “Everyone left. I figured I would stay to help you out.”

William sat up from the couch, his shirt riddled with remnants of last night. He was still wearing his “nice” shirt. Some of the buttons had been ripped off but it still managed to stay on his body. He felt around for his cane.

“Here, let me help you,” the woman said.

This woman wasn’t Rebecca as he hoped for.

“I don’t know who you are or what you’re doing,” he tried to adjust his shirt. “But you need to go. Get out of here.”

“I’m trying to pick up the trash that everyone left behind,” the woman said.

William tapped on the floor, making his way into the kitchen. He could feel the woman’s body heat as he got closer and closer. She stood there, unafraid, as he put his hands on her face in order to make a mental image of who this mysterious lady was. She could feel his cold finger tips run up and down her cheeks, nose, and mouth.

“I’m sorry,” William said.

“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I understand!” “Who are you?” He let go of her face.

“Sara, Sara Ames,” the tall, older blonde said with a smile. “Some people call me ‘Kitty Defoe.’”

William’s mouth hung open. He looked down at the ground, shaking his head in disgust with himself. He could remember how he wanted to sleep with one of the guests at the party and how they kept persuading him to settle down and just talk—talk like civilized people—and not how he and Rebecca would.

“We—we didn’t have…sex… did we?” William asked.

His mind was racing as well as his heart. Rebecca may have ended the relationship with him, but he felt that they were still together, and he cheated on her.

“No, William, we didn’t have sex. In fact, you kept me much needed company last night.” William blushed, and a smile came over his face.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t like these types of parties, too many people and too much going on. But Martin was very pushy about me coming here,” she said.

Sara picked up some of the trash from the counter, dumping it into the black trash bag.

“Where are you from?” William leaned against the wall.

“I’m from Cali. Martin called the agency I worked for.”

William swallowed hard. All he could taste was alcohol and tobacco from a cigarette that he smoked.

“Umm… where’s that?”

She continued to pick up the trash from last night. She felt bad that everyone ditched William and left him with a mess he was going to have to try to clean up by himself.

“It’s here. Just know that I work for a very popular and demanding agency.

Nothing special or important, just the clientele are very choosy.”

William let out a slight smile. “Why’s that?”

“They just want me for one thing.” Sara tossed the pizza box into the bag. “I don’t like it anymore.”

“I can imagine.” William said. “I have a very demanding clientele also.”

William walked over to the counter. Sara opened the half-filled bag up for him to throw some of the trash away. He missed the first couple of times, but she laughed is off, picking it up for him and throwing it away. Sara was a relief. She was someone that William oddly felt comfortable around.

“Yes, I know. We talked last night,” Sara said.

They had spent a majority of the night together in the corner of the living room, secluded from everyone. They talked about their lives and what they both wanted to do with it, seeing as they’ve both come to a recent crossroads. She’s looking to move away from the field she works in just like William. She was getting older, and she wanted to find someone to settle down with— someone like William—someone who’s easy to please and doesn’t want much.

They talked about William’s recent breakup with Rebecca and how they had dreamt of moving to a beach home. Rebecca loved the beach and so did Sara. It was the only thing that Sara had in common with Rebecca besides her attraction for William. Even her attraction to William was much more real than Rebecca’s. Sara actually cared to hear William’s stories about his life. She didn’t spend the night with him like William hoped for during his drunken stupor. She just wanted to get to know him.

“Thank you for the help,” William said.

They spent an hour and a half talking and cleaning up his house. Sara threw the full bags out to the back of his house and put them into the trash cans.

“No problem, William.” Sara said.

“Here,” William went walking back to his room. He came back from the short walk with his wallet in hand. “I want you to take this.”

“No, I can’t.” Sara said. “I didn’t do this for your money.”

William heard the sliding door to the back patio lock as Sara slid it shut.

“But, I feel bad that you had to clean all of this nonsense up. I really appreciate it. Have it!” “No, I don’t want your money. I don’t need it,” Sara said.

She put on her shoes at the front door. Her blonde hair was in a messy ponytail. William could hear her keys jingle as she wrestled with the shoe to put it on.

“Well, is there anything I can do for you?” William asked. “I really appreciate the help. It kind of pisses me off that Martin didn’t help. That sorry piece of…”

“Maybe later today we can go to dinner? To get to know one another… sober.” Sara asked.

William chuckled. “You plan on coming back here?” “Sure!” Sara smiled.

“Okay, something is up. This isn’t usual behavior for someone who you’ve just met.”

“Nothing is up, William. I think you’re… interesting. And I really felt bad that your friend…”

William corrected her, “Publicist!”

“Well, publicist didn’t help you clean up the mess. All of this was his idea in the first place.” “Yeah,” William nodded his head.

Sara slipped her shoe on. “So, what time should I come back to cook?”

William laughed. This is something new for him. Rebecca didn’t cook for him when they would have their dinner dates at his house. It was refreshing to hear that.

“We both know that you aren’t kitchen qualified,” Sara joked.

“But I am take-out qualified; how about some Chinese?” William said.

“That’s fine. I will be back at eight o’ clock then, yeah?” Sara opened the door.

“Eight is fine!”

“I will see you at eight.” Sara shut the door behind her, locking it on her way out.

William stood in the front of the door. He heard Sara’s engine start and her car fade off into the distance. He walked up to the door, checking the locks. He was amazed with how she took the time to make sure he was safe inside of his home. That was something that Rebecca forgot to do from time to time. She would just leave him there exposed to the weirdoes that live out in southern California. He couldn’t stop thinking about Sara and how helpful and genuine she sounded when they talked. But the more he thought about her, the less he was interested. He’s had his heart broken one too many times.


It was going on midnight, and their dinner date went great. Sara even bought the Chinese that was delivered to the house. William was grateful to be in the company of somebody like that— somebody who wasn’t so needy and dependent. They spent a great deal of the night making each other laugh and sharing embarrassing stories from their past.

From their date, William learned that Sara wasn’t a dumb blonde type. She had her ambitions and dreams. He also learned that she was going into her fifties in two weeks and was afraid of being alone. She was the polar opposite of William. While she feared dying alone, William accepted that as his fate. He also learned what her job was—she was an escort. California, especially southern Cali, was filled with those types of agencies along with other adult-themed entertainments. It was advertised freely almost without a conscience or care.

“Tonight was nice,” Sara said.

They both sat on the couch in front of the large coffee table and empty boxes of Chinese food. They cupped their coffee in their hands, watching the fire that played on William’s large television. He couldn’t afford a real fire place, so he would often sit and listen to a recording from the Internet of one. It was how he managed to get through rough days and how he managed to write five books.

“Yes, thank you for the company.” William felt the warmth of the coffee in his hands and lifted the mug at her. “Oh, and the coffee, too!”

Sara laughed. “It wasn’t a problem.”

They both took sips, blowing it before placing it to their lips, listening to the calming effect that the fire had on them.

“Sara, can I ask you something?” William asked.

She took another sip of her coffee. “Sure.”

William was nervous. He didn’t want to offend her and ward off his newfound friend.

“The escort agency… how long have you been doing that?” She blew at her mug, creating ripples in the brown liquid.

“I’ve been doing it for twenty-five years,” she said.

“Do you like it?”

“Not anymore.”


Sara got quiet. She went into deep thought.

“Because I got sick of the people that are into that kind of stuff, the people like Martin who see me as nothing but meat and just a ‘good time’ and not even a person.”

William laughed.

“How often does the little pervert spend his time there?” William smiled.

“More often than he should,” Sara smiled. “Oh! And no, we didn’t have anything. He didn’t like me because of my age. He wanted someone with ‘some youth’ behind her.”

William shook his head. He could believe how sleazy Martin was. He could also believe that Martin did spend a lot of time with escorts and spend all of his money there. Why else would he be pushy about William hosting meet and greets despite William’s feelings about them?

“Now, can I ask you something?” Sara asked.


“Do you like it?”

“Do I like what?” William took another drink from his mug.

“Do you like all of this, the books, meeting people, and being their hero?”

William pondered for a second.

“I hope I didn’t offend you or anything,” Sara said.

“No, no, you didn’t. It’s just that nobody has ever asked me that before.”

William thought for a second. They both listened to the sound of the fire crackling and popping all around them. It was soothing. It was relaxing and calming.

“No.” William said. “No, I don’t like it. I’m no hero. I’m just a man who’s been through some things, who’s been through some emotions that I decided to share with the world and how I got over it… sort of.”

Sara nodded her head. She could connect with him. She turned to him and looked him into his brown eyes. He looked very deep in thought as he looked at the monitor in front of them.

“Sometimes, I wish I could see moments like this, moments where you have revelations, just to see the other person’s expression.” William said. “That’s my one wish in life—to see an expression. I may be able to hear the tones change and sense well, but I would give it all up to see an expression, to see some joy, to see something beautiful like you, Sara.”

Sara smiled and got closer to him. This was the first time in a long time that anyone hadn’t touched her physically but emotionally.

“I wish you could, too, William. I wish you could, too…”

The crackling of the fire got louder. William didn’t want to feel like a charity case and that was far from what Sara thought of him. Sara knew that he would give up everything just to see a smile on somebody’s face. That’s just the type of person he was. Deep down inside, past all of the anger, frustration, and guilt, William was a happy guy with simple needs. It was something that Rebecca never got to know about him.

“Have you ever seen a sunset?” William asked. “Of course that’s a weird question to ask.”

“No, it’s not weird. I have. I sometimes find myself looking at them alone—alone and cold despite how hot it is outside.” Sara said.

“Why’s that?”

“Because…” Sara paused. “Because I don’t have anybody I can share the beautiful sight with.”

“Well,” William said. “I can watch it with you. Well, you might have to describe it to me. But I can watch it with you.” He smiled.
Sara smiled back at him. She looked down at her half-drunken mug of coffee and back at the television. She admired his will to commit and will to do what he had to in order to make the other person feel good about themselves. It was no wonder he was a good author. It was no wonder she’d read testimonies as to how he’s changed somebody’s life without ever coming in contact with him—just through his words.

They both finished their coffee before snuggling in for the night. Sara didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay there and explore William’s mind some more. She felt comfortable with him; she felt whole. This was the happiest she’d been in a long time.


“I think we need to see other people,” Sara said, picking at her plate with her fork.

It had been a year and a month that they had been together.

“We can be friends still,” Sara said. “I just don’t think you’re ready for this—ready to commit like I am. I’m ready for ‘til death do us part.’”

“I am ready for this!” William pounded on the dining room table that they bought for his house. “I’m ready!”

There he was, back at square one. He finally found somebody that he fell in love with again and once again, but they ripped his heart out like always. William couldn’t believe that he’d put himself back into the same situation.

“It’s obvious you still care about Rebecca,” Sara said.

“I do, but I don’t love her. I love you, Sara!”

It had been three months of him backpedaling whenever a postcard would come in the mail from Rebecca from Minnesota. It had been three months of him pushing everything aside, everything that made him happy, to go back to his reclusive state whenever those postcards would come in the mail.

“William, I love you, too. But this needs to move on. I want us to move on to another level.” “We are fine at this level!” William yelled.

“You are, maybe, but I’m not!” Sara yelled back. “I told you before that I didn’t want to go through just the motions of it. I wanted to settle in!”

William got up from the table and the chair slid against the laminate floor. He threw it down to the ground before searching for his cane.

“So, this is the end?” William asked as he walked into the kitchen.

“It doesn’t have to be, honey. It doesn’t. I just want more, William.” Sara followed him into the kitchen.

“Like always.” William fished into the cupboards for his trusty bottle of Jack Daniels. “Like always, all you people do is take from me instead of letting me be happy with the way things are.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Sara pounded on the ceramic topped tile. “I don’t want anything from you but a commitment and your love!”

William took a big swig from the bottle. His bottle was one thing that had never tried to make him change, and it was the one thing he had committed himself to.

“I don’t want to be married right now, Sara!”

“It doesn’t have to be right at this second, William. But we need to talk about it!”

William waved her off and walked out of the kitchen without his cane. He stumbled around and back into the living room with the bottle in hand, taking big gulps of it with every step.

“Why do we have to be married in order to prove that we love each other?” William asked.

“Because that’s what normal people do, William. They get married when they find the one. I want more than just coming here every other weekend because you have book signings. I want more than just spending time with you other than eating dinner and listening to a fucking Internet fire!”

“What do you want from me!?” William screamed.

Sara took a step back. She didn’t like how he became when he got angry. She didn’t like how aggressive and demanding he got when he became drunk. That was a demon she’d been fighting with him for a year, and he seemed to be back on the wagon. William could hear her feet stepping away from him.

“You know I don’t like to raise my voice, and I’m sorry, but you have put me in between a rock and a hard place!”

Sara walked to his bedroom and got her coat. She shook her head, trying not to cry, as she passed him and his opened arms.

“Sara, come on. Please. Don’t go.” William pleaded.

“I’m done with this. I’m done with the way you want to hermit yourself from the world. I’m done with trying with you,” Sara cried. “I’m gone.”

“Sara, don’t go!” William pleaded again.

The front door slammed shut. The house became quiet with only the sound of the television playing the sounds of a fire. The cackling and popping engulfed him, and tears fell down his face. He tried chasing after her, but couldn’t get to her in time due to stumbling over furniture. He was helpless without his cane and without her. Tears fell down his face, and he threw the bottle of Jack against the television. It exploded and the brown liquid went everywhere.

William plopped down on the sofa, listening to the sound of the fire cackling and popping, crying that he had lost someone else in his life due to his behavior, crying that he lost Rebecca, crying that he stopped writing, and crying that he lost Sara. His life was spiraling out of control like his relationships. In a year, Martin stopped being his publicist and moved on to another author that took him to number one on the charts. William’s books sales weren’t going anywhere, and he gave up on writing, focusing his time, love, and attention to Sara, and Rebecca has been writing him letters, letters that Sara had to read to him, about how she misses him and wished it could’ve worked out.

If anyone else was in this predicament, William would’ve been able to give them advice. He would’ve been able to touch them and make them realized that there’s more out there for them.
Advice that he wished he could take himself.


It had been two months. William had finally achieved the level of loneliness that he once dreamed for. The last letter he got from Rebecca mentioned how she’s found someone who loved her, that it would be the last time she was writing him. Of course, Sara had to read it to him. She always had to deal with his behavior after letters from Rebecca. She had to deal with what happened after he found out the news. It was the last time that he interacted with Sara aside from a couple of phone calls here and there that were filled with throat clearings and short answers.
William wasn’t able to care for himself, so he got a new aid per doctor’s orders. Cody Fulton didn’t last long. They didn’t connect at all. Cody was very talkative about politics and economics. He was everything William hated. William then settled on a seeing eye dog named Buck. Buck was loyal, compassionate, and he didn’t want much. He was William’s eyes, but more importantly he was all ears when William needed him.

“I guess it’s just me and you, Buck, old man,” William tugged at Buck’s collar.

The golden retriever stopped and wagged its tail.

They went to spend a day on the beach—a much needed day to relax—as William came to the realization that he was going to be alone on his fifty-sixth birthday. He was going to be alone for the first time in a long time on his birthday.

Buck led him to the beach, and William could feel the warm sand on his feet. He took his sandals off. He could hear the chatter and feel the stares of the people on the beach as he walked his dog down to the sound of the ocean. William inhaled deeply and exhaled. This was relaxing, a lot more relaxing than sitting at home in front of a fake fire. William loved the beach. It was where he and Sara spent a lot of their time. It was where he felt happy with himself.

The day came and went, and he had time to reflect to himself about where he was going and where he wanted to end up. Buck had the more fun out of the two of them. William would throw a tennis ball and Buck would go and retrieve it from the water, coming back and shaking his wet fur off and onto William. It got late, and the sun began to set. The beach cleared out, aside from couples looking for a romantic retreat. The beach became a lot calmer as the screaming children and yelling vanished. Couples were scattered all over the place, kissing and holding onto one another.

The sound of the ocean roaring and splashing against the sand was more relaxing than any fire William has been to—any bonfire that he and Sara had been to.
He could feel the sun’s heavy rays beginning to fade away, much like Rebecca and Sara’s love for him. A tear rolled down his face, as he thought back to how he and Sara spent many nights just talking about nothing important. And how they shared a lot more than he and Rebecca ever did.

“I love you so much, Sara,” William cried. “I wish you were here with me. I wish I was a better man.”

The ocean roared against the beach again.

“I’m sorry. I fucked up and I’m sorry,” William said.

William pushed off his cane from the hole he made in the sand. He stood up and continued to cry. No one noticed him crying; no one cared that he was crying. Everyone around him was into their own world to notice that this man had finally broken.

“This is how it ends, ol’ boy,” William said.

William walked down to the shore. He stumbled over sand castles as he tapped around with his cane to make sure nobody was to get stepped on. Buck followed along the side of him, wagging his tail, happy to be there just as much as everybody else.

William continued to cry as he got closer and closer to the shore. He could feel the temperature drop a little and the water splashing against his legs. He kept his face at the sky, at the sun.

William wanted to see a sunset and would do anything to see it. The waves were rapid. The current was becoming faster as the sun started to settle on the horizon.

“Buck, stay…sit!” William commanded.

William stepped into the water, slowly, one foot at a time. He didn’t want to make any sudden movements and fall into the water because he didn’t really know how to swim. The water was cold. It was refreshing. As he stepped in further, he thought back to how he wanted to see a sunset with Sara. He thought back to how she’s always wanted to see a sunset with somebody. It was a moment that they shared a couple of times in their relationships on that very beach.

“I love you so much, Sara,” William cried.

A wave hit him and his cane fell out of his hand. The wave was so powerful that he fell into the water. He flapped and flailed around for a couple of seconds, shocked by the coldness of the water. But he wasn’t afraid. People on the beach were beginning to notice that William, the blind self-help author, was in trouble. Some people actually went to the shore to try to call him back but William was determined.

He doggy-paddled his way into the ocean. He kept his eyes and face fixated on the sun as the waves took him under. He could hear the muffled shouting from the shore as he bobbed underwater. He kept swimming. The warmth of the sun was fading away. Buck barked furiously from the shore as people jumped into the water to save him. As he swam away from them, he started to cry. He may not be able to see the sunset but he could feel it. He could feel its warmth and feel its beauty, the same warm and beauty he felt being with Sara. The more he swam and fought the current, the brighter the light became.

The light became brighter as the waves became more overwhelming. William kept swimming. The bright light he saw was beautiful. It was more beautiful than it was described. He kept swimming towards the sunset.

“I love you, Sara. I want to commit.”

Dominic Arthur

The Promised Land

It all started on a field trip to Deer Acres in the second grade. There were rides everywhere I looked and I could not wait to try them all. My friend, Adam and I ran to the first ride, the carousel. After getting off and trying to find another ride, a group of girls from our class came up to us. They informed me that someone in our class ‘likes’ me. I found this news to be not so big of a deal. I did not really want someone to like me. None of my friends hung out with girls, so why would I want to? As the day went on Adam and I tried to figure out who this girl was who liked me. The news was in the water everyone was drinking that steamy hot day. Towards the end of the day, a girl and her friend walked up to Adam and me to inform us who this mystery girl was. Her name was Elizabeth. I had never talked to Elizabeth, or at least never more than a few words. The girl also told me Elizabeth wanted to go on the old car rail ride with me. I turned to Adam, we both shrugged our shoulders, and he said, “Go for it.” I did not know what to think about this whole situation. It just seemed odd to me that someone would actually like me. Felt very weird. 

I went to the old car rail ride to find Elizabeth. I eventually spotted her, standing with a couple of her girlfriends. I walked up to their group and the rest of the girls ran away. There we were, Elizabeth and I in an awkward stand-off. Her crisp gold hair draped down to her knees, and her thin legs were crossed as she twirled her fingers together. She asked me if I wanted to ride with her and I said sure. We got in the old Model-T car, and it was just the two of us. We talked about the day and how it had been going. Silence fell in the cracks of our voices as she failed to see my heart nervously shaking. She grabbed my hand and placed it in between her hands on her lap. My heart became a formula one dragster flying down the runway. We silently looked into each other’s eyes and she said, “We should have a wedding.” Shocked, I responded with, “What?” She further explained that she really liked me and she wanted to be with me forever. I thought I was going crazy. For some reason, I liked her, too. It was an odd natural thing. She then shared her plans for the wedding. I said, “Sure, sounds fun.” She lifted my hand and kissed it as if she had kissed me like that done it a thousand times.

School the next day buzzed with the news of the wedding of Elizabeth and Jordan. I even had a wedding planner, her best friend Sarah. We planned the wedding for three weeks from that day after the field trip. My bachelor party consisted of all my best friends getting together at my house for a sleepover pizza party. She had her bachelorette party at her house the same night. The ring I gave to her came from a fifty cent toy dispenser. We had everything planned from the groomsman to the reception. The wedding was to take place during recess on a gorgeous spring day. Everyone on the playground came together and formed an aisle for the wedding party to walk down. My good friend, Zach, was the priest and played the part well by wearing a brown robe. It was finally our turn to walk down the aisle together. People threw paper shreds in the air as we walked by. Our smiles rivaled those of any we have ever had. We got about three-quarters of the way down the aisle when we saw what looked like a jail break. There was not a single person running in the same direction. This was a commonly used tactic when the playground was in threat of getting in trouble. It was our principal. She saw what was happening and quickly came to put a stop to it. Being a nun, she had very strong opinions about marriage and love. We had a serious talk with her about marriage and what it means to love and to be loved.

Elizabeth and I decided it would be best to postpone the wedding until we were adults. We continued our lives as normal and spoke often, but throughout the next couple school years we talked less and less. Elizabeth and I grew apart and eventually stopped talking altogether. I loved sports. She loved art. To me, as a kid, there was not too much else on my plate. Why would I want a friend that doesn’t like what I like? Especially a friend who is a girl; none of my other friends had friends who were girls. To this day I wonder, “Would I still be married to Elizabeth if it all worked out as planned?”

Chocolates, flowers, and love cards filled the aisle of the store. Valentine’s Day was soon on the horizon. The most appropriate day of the year to open your heart. Commercials on television about Valentine’s Day made my bones attempt to slip out of my skin. There was only one person I could think about for weeks before the day of celebration. Her name was Kaitlyn, and I had the biggest crush on her a fifth grader could have. She was smart, funny, and most of all, cute. She was short with long blonde hair and eyes of crystal. Kaitlyn and I had been flirting a little bit at school the weeks before Valentine’s Day. We would write notes and pass them to each other in class, trying not to get caught. The scratching of her pencil overruled the mumbled speech of the teacher. She would write how terrible and boring the class had become and I would agree while asking her questions about herself. “How many siblings do you have? What is your favorite color? What is your favorite subject?” She would always give a detailed answer and ask me the same question. One day, I passed a note to her saying, “You look great today.” She responded with a red face and a note saying, “Thank you, you don’t look too bad yourself.”

I chose a red rose, a box of heart shaped chocolates, and a card I made myself. My father always gave my mother flowers and chocolates, so I figured it would be a good choice. Valentine’s Day was just one day away. I wrote in a computer paper-made card,”Kaitlyn, I cannot stop thinking about you. Would you like to go out with me?” Looking back at this I probably could have done much better. Valentine’s Day was here and I passed her a note during the last class of the day saying, “Meet me by my locker after school.” I watched her as she read it to get an idea of how she would take the meaning of the note. She smiled and acted a little shy. Right then I melted through the holes in the back of my chair. I went to my locker at the ring of the bell and began to sweat a little. I had never asked anyone out or have even kissed a girl before. I saw her coming down the hall, weaving in and out of traffic like a semi-truck barreling down the highway ready to hit me. This was it, this was the moment I had been waiting for quite some time. She was all of a sudden standing there right in front of me. The stage was mine. She said hi as I stumbled on over my words and spit out a quivery “Hey.” I handed her the rose, chocolates, and the card. Her eyes opened wide and her smile blinded me. She read the card and immediately said, “Yes!” She then leaned towards me in slow motion and closed her beautiful blue eyes. I thought to myself, “Alright, Jordan, It’s just a kiss, come on, just do it.” And just like that, my brain exploded. Thoughts spewing from my head were crashing on the floor shattering any predetermined notions of what two lips colliding could feel like. I could have never imagined this was the feeling of a kiss. We were isolated from the rest of the hall traffic and in our own world. Nothing on the planet could have been better than that moment. I will never forget the explosion of my first kiss.

After a couple of months, our feelings for each other shrank. There was no passion left in my heart for her. She felt the same way towards me. We continued to talk as friends, but that only lasted a month or so. I was heading back down the pyramid I fought hard to climb. I asked myself, “Did I do something wrong?” I had no answer.

Sparkling green flowed around her slender body as she floated down the stairway. My friend Jackie and I decided to go to prom together. She was as tall as I was with strawberry blonde hair bunched up like a fruit basket on her head. I thought she was stunning. I was dressed in an all-white suit with light green mixed in. My shoes even had a green stripe through them. My confidence was at a peak as I took her hand. Though Jackie and I were just friends, the high school notion that Prom night is an adventurous evening with drinking and sex was stuck in my head. The pressure to engage in sex was immense. Most of my friends had girlfriends, and that was all they talked about. I did not want a girlfriend at the time due to my busy schedule and college was around the corner, but I did want to have some fun that night.

We exchanged a friendly hello as we walk to my uncle’s majestic 1988 Mustang that he let me use. Laughter filled the car as we gossiped about people and their relationships, like normal high school kids would. The trip seemed too short for our conversations to end. With the prom night sex theme still in my head, I thought I was off to a good start. As we rolled into the parking lot, I said to her, “Did I mention that you look beautiful tonight?” She replied with a smile and a wink. When I saw that wink, I knew I was definitely doing something right tonight.

After dinner with friends, I again took her hand to help her into the Mustang. I learned this from my older brother: always open the door for a lady. Confidence ran through my body like the blood in my veins. We discussed plans for after the dance and agreed on going to my friend’s house together. Knowing I had already made plans with her for after the dance before even getting to the dance was amazing. As we arrived at the dance, the bass of the music sends shivers through my dancing shoes. We were eager to get the party started. We danced like we could not control our limbs. Because we were prohibited from “dirty dancing,” the only time we could be intimate with someone was during the slow dances. The first one came and went. I was way too nervous to ask her to dance. The fact that I did not see her during that song helped. After the song was over I stood up and looked for her to continue dancing like fools. The millisecond I found her, another slow song came on. I felt obligated to ask her to dance. This was my moment. I asked her to dance and she jumped up and down and said, “Yes, I thought you wouldn’t ask!” The song was “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. I thought this was an appropriate song for the evening with Jackie. I placed my hand on her lower back, and she rested her hand gently on my shoulder. I was numb. Sweat started to accumulate on my forehead. I thought, “Do I wipe it? Do I ignore it? Does she think it is gross? Will she not think anything of it?” My thoughts rammed into each other faster and faster as one drop of sweat reached my eyebrow. I wiped it. She said nothing and continued to dance with a smile. My confidence grew again, and I knew the night would go well.

After the dance, we headed over to my friend Kyle’s house. His parents were not there as we brought in bottles of booze. Being responsible and having respect for his parents, who are like my second parents, we collected everyone’s keys into a basket and told them they were staying the night if they drank. Jackie and I were planning to stay. Beers went down smooth and shots stung the throat. Beer pong seemed to be our game. Jackie and I won four straight before losing. We bonded well during that time and I had the feeling that she might like me; I knew I was developing feelings for her. She seemed to have a spark about her that night that I had not noticed during our friendship. I always liked Jackie but never thought of her being my girlfriend. That thought sprinted back and forth throughout the night as it came to a close. People began to choose their spots on the couches and bedrooms. I asked Jackie where she was sleeping and she said she did not know. I followed up by asking if she wanted to see if there was a bedroom open upstairs. She said, “Yes, but no funny business.” The thing that caught me off guard was that she smiled before she ran upstairs. I thought maybe she did want funny business.

I was running behind her and competing with her to find a room. We found one and dove onto the bed. As we laughed we calmed down and got settled. We were not touching at all. A few minutes of silence passed, and I reached out my hand to put it around her waist. She said, “Jordan, wait. I wanted to have sex with you tonight but I just can’t. It wouldn’t be right.” In shock, I replied, “It’s okay, I understand.” She then continued by saying, “I wouldn’t mind being your girlfriend, though.” My body temperature reached that of magma as my sweat soaked the bed. I could not believe what I had just heard. She turned and kissed me before I even got a chance to say a word. There I was, on Mount Everest.

This feeling would only last a short period. One week later, we decided it would be best to return to friendship. Although we had many common interests and always had fun together, something was not working. I was not devastated, and neither was she. We both felt it coming.

Jordan Weigl