The Absence of Aurora: A Short Story

It was in that year that he left Aurora. Before he did, he envisioned another life. He believed this to be the best move. With her voice still fresh in his mind, he heard her whisper on occasion to him, or at least he believed so. This is what she would’ve wanted, he thought. She would’ve wanted me to leave…For Rose and all…It’s what she would’ve wanted. The hand that he was dealt was not hers nor was it at the least palpable but rather striking. It had struck with full force upon all of his simple desires of a life much better than present, leaving him with nothing. Only Rose, who embodied all of hope and prosperity, remained. He would leave it all for her. She deserved so much more. In a life that was once serene he had not planned ahead. All that he and Jill had, he salvaged from a life that ended in a seeming blaze.

They met at the senior prom. Underneath the pale of the swinging lights above, his eyes froze dead upon hers. He felt confident, wearing a rented tuxedo he believed to be as the salesman had to be “the best available” and so accosted her, not before glancing over his shoulder to make sure his arranged date was not near. She was wearing a simple red backless dress with bikini straps. She had done the same. They had met in the middle, where the Aurora High School basketball team would tip-off.

“Having a good time?” he asked her.

“I’m having a ball!” she said with a taste of sarcasm. “I can’t seem to find my date. Have you seen him?”

“Who is he?”

“Keith Lowell, you know…He’s a quarterback.” Of course he knew Keith. Didn’t everyone? He knew Keith just like he knew that Keith wouldn’t be too happy to find the two of them talking to each other.

“Right. Well, would you like to get some fresh air anyway?”

“Maybe it’s best if I stay here.”

“Don’t worry, everything will be fine. C’mon, I can barely breathe in here.” Glancing over her shoulders once more, she followed him.

Outside the precinct, the wind blew hard against the oak, causing the last of the clinging leaves to finally carry. The night was cold and had promised neither warmth nor consolation anytime soon; neither did the pale fluorescent lights that lined the ceiling like armed sentinels. There were so many questions that needed to be answered. Somewhere inside, a man cried.

“Would you like something to drink? Some milk perhaps?”

“No thanks…” said Rose.

“How about some cookies, would you like that?”

“Where’s my daddy?”

“He’s fine, princess, just fine…”

“Don’t call me that! I didn’t ask you how he is, I asked you where he is.”

“Okay, fine. He’s in this building, all right? So, if you want to see him again, you’ll answer my questions.” Rose’s eyes dropped at this and she crossed her arms. After a brief pause, her eyes found some inner strength and shot back at the officer, who was startled when she did.

The moon was full that night. The penguins and doves inside seemed to enjoy the world inside than out. It was silent here. Lighting a Marlboro, he searched everywhere but her eyes for words.

“Cigarette?” she asked him.

“Sure,” he said, letting out a plume of smoke.

“When did you start?”

“A year ago.”

“When are you going to stop?”

“Who said I’m gonna stop?”

“I did.” At this, she had his attention. Without losing it, he went over to where she stood and pulled her close, kissing her.

Three hours had past, he had guessed, since they had taken him and Rose into custody. The drone of the fluorescent lights seemed to grow louder with each passing moment. He recreated the entire night over again, just as they had demanded. In his mind’s eye, he saw only frozen images, like scattered Polaroid’s over a cold bed.

He had started smoking again. The smoke had risen like a spirit leaving the body of the fateful departed. Soon, they would be back. They would come back and want to know everything all over again. He just didn’t know. Not anymore.

As if on cue, both of the white shirt and black tie detectives filed in. One sat to his left, the other in front of him. The one in front pulled out a pocket-sized tape recorder. After slamming it home onto the table, he hit the RECORD button. “Talk”, the first detective says.

He heard Jill screaming. The world around him spun a crimson red as he felt for balance being on all fours now. The salt of blood trickled down the side of his mouth. “NOBODY FUCKS WITH MY GIRL!” he heard Keith protest. Another sharp pain, now down by his ribs. “HOW DOES IT FEEL NOW, HUH? HOW DOES IT FEEL?”

“Keith, please leave him alone.”

“Not until he’s dead. You’re next, bitch.” At this, Roman found some strength return. Quickly, he rose and threw one clenched fist through the darkness, finding Keith’s Adam’s apple, dropping him, causing the quarterback to choke on his own blood. Still clutching his ribs, Roman, feeling for Jill held out his free shaking hand. Without hesitating, she took it and they ran.

Frustrated, she pulls harder at the door handle, now jiggling it to no avail. “It’s locked, princess…Why don’t you be a good little girl and have a seat.”

“I WANT MY DADDY!”

“Hey, I told you, not until we’re done.”

“My daddy’s gonna be real mad when I tell him about what you did!”

“Yeah? You think he’ll get mad enough to kill me, like he killed your mom?” Sobbing now, Rose says, “Daddy didn’t kill her, she died in her sleep.”

“If that were true, which of course it’s not, then why did we arrest him?”

“Because you want to blame him for something he didn’t do.”

“Why’d you do it? A man like you in your profession…You come in all shapes and sizes, don’t you killer?”

“I didn’t…Do it.”

“Of course you did, the neighbors heard you, heard you two bark at each other every night. So tell me, who’s Keith Lowell?”

“No one.”

“He’s someone all right. Heard you and him went at it during your senior prom.”

“Bullshit.”

“And you’re slowly sinking in it.”

“You know, holding me and my daughter here…You have no right. I’ll have my lawyer sue your asses—you and your families of pigs.” The detective paid back his favor with a blow to his skull.

“Don’t you tell me, motherfucker, I’ll tell you! Joe! Get this piece of shit out of here!”

Roman chirped the tires of his red firebird leaving the prom with its queen. This is going to hurt in the morning, he thought. After a long silence between them, Jill spoke. “Where are we going?” she asked him. Staring into the dim road ahead, he turned to her and saw that she was staring at him, admiringly. “Anywhere but here…Where do you want to go?” Slowly, she reaches over to his hand that is holding the shifter, the very same hand that had led her here. Small quakes of shock were still quivering through him in the aftermath, but being alone with Jill, it had quickly subsided. She rested her blonde head upon his shoulder and that was all he needed to know.

They found a little place outside of the woods, overlooking the Sound. Their travels had brought them here. Of all places, this had always been the place, although not yet known to them. Our lives could flourish here, we won’t have to change or leave…It’s all right here for us, he thought. Sitting there together, a gust of wind interrupted them. “I’m cold,” she said. He was up, then returning with a blanket in his hands. With trained precision, he placed the blanket around her shoulders. “Here,” she says, sharing the welcomed warmth with him. Down below the high cliff, the angry waves crashed up against the rocks, emitting the pale debris of foam.

“Has he ever hit you?”

“Daddy loves me, he would never hit me.”

“Not even when you’re bad?”

“No.”

“Has he ever hit your mother?”

“Never. Sometimes they fight. That’s all…How much more?”

“Shhh…Do you think he would hit her if she had gotten him really angry?”

“NO! I told you, no no no. He never hit us.”

“Who’s us? Your mommy’s gone…Now it’s just you, princess. You think your daddy will hit me for being mean to you?” Rose thought very carefully about this while biting down on her lower lip.

Upon the narrow bed of his cell, Roman saw his life upon the casting shadow of himself. He thought about her as he always had and always will. She was beautiful, no matter what time of day it was or what she was wearing. His pulse would quicken every time he saw her. He didn’t know how it had come to be that this angel would choose, over any other guy, him. He thought: She could have anyone and she chose me, the guy no one knows. It was this fact that he had wondered if ever she would leave him. Certainly, such a fairy tale does not exist in the real world, which is filled with elements of a horror story. Almost as to prove it, the memory of her dead body had brought a veil of red before him. She now lay dead, forever burned into the retina of his mind. The shaking began again and he wanted a smoke.

The sting of tears had resurfaced. She never did quite see him cry, neither did Rose. Real men don’t cry, Roman. Real men suck it up. Are you a man, Roman? Are you a real man? The voices had begun to become more and more audible as of late, like a cry in the distance growing closer. Just as hard to do nowadays was to block out the voice inside of him.

The light of the morning brought both pleasure and pain. Dawn had begun to break through the clouds, climbing like the mercury inside a thermometer. The sea had settled a bit, being at low tide. Roman saw, cuddled in a fetal position was Jill, still asleep. I wonder if she’s dreaming right now, he thought. Or maybe I’m the one that’s dreaming? He smiled at this, hurting himself as he did and wrapped his arm over her. The completeness that he was feeling right then was incredible. He could feel a new life beginning for himself, with Jill. Nothing will ever tear us apart. Things don’t have to change with us. Maybe we’ll leave Verona and then we’ll be happy. Whatever he decided, the truth was that he didn’t want any of this to end. Holding her here meant the world to him, just so as they both lived. Roman watched the rising and falling of her chest as she slept. Certainly, he was too.

Awakening, Keith Lowell turned over on his side, reading the alarm clock’s LCD to be 7:06 P.M., which glow, was a burning red. Slow to rise, he shuffled toward the fridge and cracked open a can of beer. A took three-gulp swig and slammed it on the littered kitchen table. His life hasn’t been the same.

He never left Aurora. Something had compelled him to stay. It wasn’t the hecklers in his class, nor was it his father who had found it convenient to ignore him, even after all these years. All of those years he had worked to attract the eyes of division-one scouts all across the country. Or the eyes of the one girl he ever loved. Jill, he thought. She would have made a good life for him, all right. It was Jill that would bring calm to his troubled waters when at times, seemed at the point of boiling. Just to hear her soft voice in his ear had cooled him and cooed him.

But not that night

That night had pulled the beam from underneath him and made his reputable career come crashing down. The telling sight of Jill and the motherfucker kissing! That had brought home the ill-fated reality of it all to home. The stranded helplessness he felt was too much for him to bear. Sonofabitch took a cheap shot at me! Sonofa—But that was all. That’s where it had ended or had left off, like the breath of a short-winded person, which is where it had left off. “There’s work to be done” Keith said to no one in particular. As if confirming it, he got in the shower.

Roman had considered all the possibilities. He rewound the entire night over and over again until he found the beginning and hit PLAY. After some fight they had, Jill had decided that it would be best if she stayed over her girlfriend’s apartment for awhile. Roman had agreed. “It won’t be for long,” Jill had said, “just one night.” Just then, he had suspected something going awry. Time heals many hardships, which is why he believed it when a friend told him that he had saw Jill leaving the apartment of a male friend. “They seemed to be pretty intimate,” Keith said, as a matter of fact. Once more, the crimson curtain fell over Roman.

That had left Rose alone. After packing just a few of her belongings, she was gone, just as sudden as they had met that fateful night at the prom. That was the last time he saw her alive.

He remembered what she had said to him, that brave new day when she awoke. She didn’t want that day to end and neither did Roman. “I remember seeing you in homeroom during freshmen year, sleeping at your desk”, she said, “you didn’t know it, but I was watching you as you slept…You didn’t know that, did you?” And then the words that would take his defensive strength away: “I watched you and realized that you were the one I was going to marry. I knew it then that you were the one. More tears…Everything is going to be perfect from now on. Our children are going to have the best parents…Oh! I can’t wait! She thought, and held him tighter.She had painted him a pretty picture. At a time, Roman wanted the same thing, but couldn’t help feeling that fate would intervene as before. And if it wasn’t fate, it would be someone else or something else. The hand of fate had certainly been the culprit. It was just as he had thought. Angry now, Roman fired: Life can’t be perfect! It can’t be. There will always be faults. Because…Well, why Roman? Because, we’ll always want more…It’s never enough!

It was in that year that he left Aurora. But before he did, he envisioned another life. He believed this to be the best move. With her voice still fresh in his mind, he had heard her whisper on occasion to him; at least he believed so. This is what she would’ve wanted, he thought. She would’ve wanted me to leave…For Rose and all…It’s what she would’ve wanted. The hand that he was dealt was not hers nor was it at the least palpable but rather striking. It had struck with full force upon all of his simple desires of a life much better than present, leaving him with nothing. Only Rose, who embodied all hope and prosperity, remained. He would leave it all for her. She deserved so much more. In a life that was once serene he had not planned ahead. All that he and Jill had, he salvaged from a life that ended in a seeming blaze.

© Copyright 2001.  All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 38 comments

Miss Take 7 years ago

Interesting very interesting


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Wow! I had to read this twice as the Rose/Jill complex is very interesting. I like the interplay and seamless weaving of events. Cool story! Thanks for sharing :D


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Cris. Truth be told, I wrote this story when pulling an all-nighter. I waited tell the last minute to finally sit down to do it, as the writing class was the following day and it was my turn to get it workshopped. Before putting forth the effort to finish it, I only had one thing to work with: A little pre-adolescent who was getting interrogated by two policeman. That was all I had to work with and ran with it. Glad you liked.

Now here's the $64,000 question: Who's the killer?


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Haha okay okay, can't say no to that amount! But I will answer the question in the form of another question: who will be able to move on from Aurora after her death? Or i may be wrong :D


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

After having read this piece, many people told me that they liked how both the prologue and the epilogue are exactly the same...To answer your question, Roman did move out of Aurora, but not in the normal way, if you know what I mean. So sorry if I spoiled it, but I've just in effect killed two birds with one scud missle: by answering your question, I answered MY question!


Hack Retis 7 years ago

Not what I was expecting, but that's always a good thing.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Hack Retis. How was the structure of the story? The way I originaly wrote this story was that I broke it up into two columns per page in the same tradition as a newspaper article. I can't seem to do the same thing here. Another thing is that a friend of mine years ago actually drew up a book cover for this story but I can't seem to find it. If I had it im my possession I would post it. It really would have been awesome.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Well woven, wordsmith! Thanks for sharing this interesting and intricately laid story. I shall be back to read more.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Great to hear, RedElf. I just joined your fan club as I very impressed by your work as well! Thank you for the comment.


Ann Mason profile image

Ann Mason 7 years ago

Thanks for a great read Dohn. I had just awoken and read it twice to fully appreciate its dual aspects. I didn't expect that technique, so kudos to you.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks Ann. I may tweak it a bit and am thinking about sending it to a Literary Journal or a Short Story Contest (I don't know why I capitalized these two things). The only problem is finding one that's relevant to it (same genre, etc.). We shall see.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

Verrreeeee nice! Great shifting between times, leaving questions unanswered at the end. It's something that makes you go back and read it all the way through a second time - loved it!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you Shakini! Earlier on in this long thread, I told CrisA (I know that you know him!) that I wrote this story while pulling an all-nighter. I needed to have a piece to get work shopped by my piers in my creative writing class and had nothing prepared. However, I did have one single scene laid out in my mind that stuck: It was the scene where Rose is being interrogated by two police officers. That was all I had to work with and so I ran with it.

Thanks again for commenting, I appreciate it.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Hi again. Me, MM. It took me a very very brief while to get used to the structure of this story, but once I did, I really liked it! Great weaving of past and present. I also like the interrogation scene.

Having just read your true account of your early years and knowing how hard and late you worked, I can't help but wonder if you are Roman, falling asleep in homeroom???

BTW, you mention "The Sound." I grew up on the other side of Long Island Sound! MM


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Yes, Ma'am, you got me! The jig is up! As many writers before me, I base much of my fiction writing off my real life. I used to fall asleep in homeroom every morning. A girl who I was very attracted to but was reluctant to talk to use to watch me then. The months would pass...

The two of us got to know each other and became very good friends before anything. When I finally had the courage, I asked her out and she said yes. But when the day came to go out on our date, her parents prohibited her from seeing me because I wasn't Italian/white. Both her and I were devastated. It took me some time, but I learned to get over her and forgive her parents for their views.

That's great that you grew up on the other side of the Sound. In some ways when growing up, I sometimes felt that I didn't belong. I had friends in elementary school that were dropped off by their chauffeurs while I walked to school.

Thanks again MM for your support!


Drew Breezzy profile image

Drew Breezzy 7 years ago from somewhere in my mind

"he smoke had risen like a spirit leaving the body of the fateful departed." I really like this description.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you for your comment Drew. For many people who've read some of my works, this was among their favorites. I'm not sure if this would make a great movie or anything, but I can definitely see as a 22-minute episode or a 45-minute episode mini-movie. Hey, ya' never know.


Moomilkin profile image

Moomilkin 7 years ago

"The penguins and doves inside seemed to enjoy the world inside than out." Loved the wording havent really seen a sentences used like that before and I loved it!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I must admit, it was a bit risky to use such a line at first. I never want to sound overreaching (you risk sounding pompous at times). I thank you and appreciate your comment, Moomilkin!


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Not exactly to my taste, but congrats for your efforts, obviously many others liked your story. I too write stories here, altogether different from yours and I suspect I do not have as many readers, so well done.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I'm sorry to hear that this story wasn't to your liking, katyzzz. I hope that you'll read some of my other works too, as I can write in different styles. Thank you for reading.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hi DOHN< i like this one, can become a movie, some sort of that thing, the killer is........R-----and I like when they are interrogating her...

you really did a good job with this one, SALUTE" Maita


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Maita. Yea, this is one of my favorites. I wrote this specifically for workshop while I was in college. I got a lot of great feedback just like the ones here on this hub. Thanks as always, Maita. Hearing from you means a lot :)


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

I am sure I am way behind but I have been trying to catch up on my favorite writers. Not too many can hold my attention through a whole post but you always can. I really enjoyed reading this. You are very adept at capturing the attention and holding it to find out what is going to happen. Thanks for sharing.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I just did a quick read-over on this story and there seems to be a need for some revision (sorry, old post). Thanks, Tammy for the compliment. With everything that I write, I try my best to get to the point and not waste words. Capturing the attention of my readers is crucial and I practice doing so with each attempt. It's great to hear that you think so!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Well spun dohn121. She was going to leave with her girlfriend's fiance--they had been seeing each other since Rose's fifth birthday party--When he saw them leave together, Keith said: "Not again. This is not happening to me again!"

:) Cheers.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Winsome. I'm not really sure why you posted that--are you making a suggestion for this story? Please let me know as I'm not completely sure of your intentions. Thank you in advance!

Dohn


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Hi dohn121. Sorry, not suggesting, I was just letting my free association run free. You asked who the killer was and so I just imagined another reason for her staying with the girlfriend. It's a fun read--thanks for letting me play.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Gotcha, Winsome. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I actually have a writing exercise if you are interested. It's called,

http://hubpages.com/literature/Complete-This-Story...

It's probably best if you just simply do the assignment and make it into a hub yourself, as unfortunately, I'm going to unpublish it soon due to a lack of responses :(

Thanks again for visiting me!


G Miah profile image

G Miah 6 years ago from Muslim Nation

I've got to read this again, it was fantastic! Really enjoyed it. I'm learning a lot from reading your hubs, because i like short stories. They leave a lot of mystery that you need to try and work out. Then they actually are longer stories, even know what i mean!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you G Miah! This was one of the first stories I got work shopped in college as a Creative Writing major. It got a lot a good reviews, save the editing I had to do. A couple of my peers grumbled about it, but I could tell that they were a little jealous of this story as they had struggled with theirs. Sorry, I don't mean to sound arrogant, that was just the truth.

Yes, this story could certainly be longer, but I wanted to make it as compact as possible. I'm glad that you liked reading it!


G Miah profile image

G Miah 6 years ago from Muslim Nation

Great! What i meant by short stories being longer is that they leave a lasting impression on the reader. And you have exactly done that with this story!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Dohn - an intriguing story. I like how the story itself, not just the plot line, is a mystery, slowly unveiled, leaving the reader to think about it.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

@G Miah-Ah, I see...Thanks again, G Miah. I try my best to keep it short and sweet as I am impatient a reader as the next guy (unlike, let's say Henry James). Thank you!

@Dolores Monet-Thank you, Dolores. One of the things I tried to do in this story is to not come off as having too obvious a plot. Just one sentence explains virtually everything here. The most careful of readers will pick it up ;)


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago

Hi Dohn

I picked this story to read becasue your friends said it was their favorite and I can see why as it is beautifuly written. My favorite descriptive sentence from your story is "Dawn had begun to break through the clouds, climbing like the mercury inside a thermometer". You are a very talented writer.

Amber


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, Amber, for reading this story. I wish that more people would read it here on HubPages, but I guess you can't have everything, right? Just the fact that you took the time to read this means a great deal. Thank you so much!

Dohn


Farkas 3 years ago

I would like to find springs for twin beds which could be used as bunk beds or staarpee twin beds. They might have been sold by Sears? There are 2 wooden slats to hold the springs in place, which sit in wooden pieces on the bedrails. If I can find springs for these beds, I would like to pass them along to my granddaughter for her 2 daughters.The springs were not coil but elongated triangles fastened together with twists of metal.Do you know of a source for such springs which would not cost an arm and a leg to buy?Many thanks for your help,Aileen


Risita 3 years ago

Ne3o tem como vocea colocar leangdes nos seus videos , sou brasileira .Adoro seus videeos .beeijooos Maria Fernanda Schaffersou muito fe3e3 da Nikki e da Jill. Adoro elas . Se3o Lindas demaais .

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