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Alone Again - Answer to Annart's Challenge

Updated on October 30, 2014
This photo is of a painting done by Annart and is her sole and copyrighted possession.   It is used here with her permission.
This photo is of a painting done by Annart and is her sole and copyrighted possession. It is used here with her permission. | Source

Life can be hard. No rocks or mountainsides can compete with the hardness of life.

Take Jim for example. He's your average man in every way. He's a high school graduate with two years of college. Not an overly tall man standing at five foot eleven inches. He has a ruddy complexion with hair we used to call mud gutter blonde, or as others may call it, dirty blonde. He has no distinguishing features. An average nose, blue eyes that don't pierce you when you look into them. Just your average man.

Yet Jim's life has been all but average. He was born to military parents. They were both American citizens serving in Japan after WWII. They were stationed there under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. Living in a foreign country is always difficult but for a little American boy post-war Japan was beyond difficult and offered many day-to-day challenges. So much of the country had been gutted by war. Food was scarce for the Japanese people, communicable disease was everywhere, and the black market flourished. He made friends but not easily, after all he was an American in post war Japan. Language was a barrier and he of course he looked different than the other children. His childhood play, like those of his schoolmates consisted of games about famine and prostitution, a 'trade' that arose from starvation. This was the country of his youth.


He returned to America with his parents when he was just ten years old and began school in what was now, to him, a foreign country. Here again he was a stranger. His Japanese was better than his English and children often made fun of him. He didn't understand the taunting and hurtful things they tossed at him. There was no honor here among these children. He went on to attend high school and finally began to fit in in the country of his origin. He made a few friends in passing but no lifelong relationships.

When he started college he met Akiko. Her face was long and oval shaped with beautiful wide set brown eyes. Her straight black hair was so shiny and silky. She was a tiny little thing with a beautiful melodious voice. It was love at first sight though the courtship lasted for two years. Two years time to revel in each other's likenesses and differences. they shared so much about their childhoods in Japan. Not surprisingly they were married. It was a beautiful, warm, spring day in a small farm filled with apple blossoms. The beautiful scent of the apple blossoms complimented the beauty of their love. What could be more appropriate.


After three years of marriage, Akiko became pregnant. They were ecstatic and talked about names for the baby, what color they would paint the baby's room and what furniture they would buy. They joked about who would change the diapers and get up for three o'clock feedings. Jim would lie next to Akiko placing his hand on her belly and talk to the baby. It was hard to tell who was more happy about this pregnancy. Life was good, Jim was not alone!

As it came time for the delivery, complications arose. The doctors did all that they could but neither Akiko nor the baby survived. Jim was inconsolable, he felt as if someone had drilled a hole in his chest and tore his heart out. It was hard to breath or care. His life had ended. He couldn't fathom going on without Akiko, that voice with the built in smile. Those brown eyes twinkling with love and mischief, how could he go on without her? What of that baby he never got to meet? He was heartsick but worst of all, he was alone without Akiko. Akiko was his other half. She brought the joy and sense to his existence.

A deep melancholy settled into his being. Nothing made sense. Why would a sun rise without Akiko? Why would he live without her? Where could he go in this empty life? They had both loved the ocean finding peace in its beauty, so it was to the ocean he turned.

A beautiful sunset shining on the ocean reminded him of the times he and Akiko had sat holding hands in front of the same scene. The water shimmering like so many jewels as the sun cast it's fading glow. He walked into the water to feel the sting of the waves as they met the drier sand. The water rolled over his feet making him part of this beautiful scene and casting his shadow on the water behind him.

Here he experienced peace. An inner peace he could find nowhere else. He came day after day to witness the sunset. After several weeks he realized this was the only place he could find Akiko. One evening when the sun seemed more beautiful than ever he walked farther into the water. The lapping of the waves woke his senses as he walked farther and farther letting the peace of the ocean engulf him.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      Thanks Chris. I really enjoy these challenges and the camaraderie. Glad you enjoyed and so appreciate your comment.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 2019.

      I reread my story yesterday that I wrote for this challenge and noticed yours in your profile this morning, so I read it again as well. The ups and downs o life can do this to a person. I was fortunate to have waited until things got better and life has been good ever since. This is such a well told story, Mary. I love it.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      We all let the ocean engulf us in one way or another, it is peace we seek and hopefully peace we find!

      Thanks for the angels. God bless.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You wrote so that I HAD to read on....I had to know how this would evolve and come to a end. But for me, it did not end. Because I think there is much more to this story....your ending is the beginning for me as I am left to decide what came next...

      Well done...I enjoy most these articles that I relish reading from beginning to end. Know that Many Angels are on the way this morning ps

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Thanks Aviannovice. Sometimes we don't know where we're going or how we got there.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Very well done, and extreme grief has been known to do just that.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Mike I have to say your comment made me feel like my writing is worth the many writers, I often wonder but then along comes a comment like yours and I know I'm on track. Thank you.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      tillsontitan you have tapped so many emotions with this very short story. You can see from the stream of comments that your story has touched the hearts of many of your readers. Congratulations on a well written piece.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      I am moved by your words Romeo and happy to make your acquaintance as well. You have captured much of my intentions and you are so right about my choice of songs. Thank you for the beautiful comment. Sending you the best from NY to England.

      You make such good points Stages of Me. As Tennyson said, "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"...heart ache though often makes us less appreciative. As time goes on you can bear it better. Thank you for such a lovely comment.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      Kathy Henderson 

      4 years ago from Pa

      Beautiful story of a forever love. So sad that he could not find a purpose in the memory of the love he had with Akiko. Loss is a horribly difficult thing, but, to be lost because of loss is even more tragic. I pray that some will feel the sadness of this piece and find strength in the possibility of sharing that immense love that was experienced in another way. Some never get to feel that kind of love, but one season of it is worth a thousand when it's so beautiful. Others can learn from that kind of love and there in find a purpose to live on until they meet again. Thank you for writing this I believe it will draw great emotion. Peace in your stages :)

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      Very pleased to make your new acquaintance on HP ma'am and thank you for your kind comments you left on my reply to Ann's invitation.

      Happiness; despondency, a broken spirit with a lugubrious finale - poor Akiki and bairn and poor old Jim - just too many tear drops for one heart to carry on it seems and the deftness of your last paragraph plumbed as many leagues of silence as the depths of Jim's aqueous goodnight.

      Your chosen video by the B/Boys was very sad as well :-

      " ... asking me to feel the things you never show."

      These words are like the ante-room of departure; dejection wrapped in sweet melancholia which captured the ' je ne sais quoi ' dehiscence betwixt being and unbeing very well.

      Thanks for the read and bid you a pleasant evening in NYC from an undecided autumn in merry England.

      Warm Regards;


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Your comment is so appreciate Harishprasad as is your vote up and shared. I am glad you enjoyed my work so much.

      Always Exploring, guess we have that creative gene. This has been so much fun and I am honored to hear such nice things from such good writers. Thanks for the share.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh, this is so sad but beautiful! Your story is so touching. I felt Jim walking further into the water, Wow tearing up here. Thank you. Sharing on Twitter..

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      4 years ago from New Delhi , India

      It is such a fantastic response to Ann's challenge that I want to relish it more and more. Mary, you produced a story succinctly yet so beautifully. It all felt as real, so passionate and emotional ! Great work. Voted up and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Glad I could give you the shivers Gypsy. Thanks for the lovely comment and shares.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      4 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up and awesome. I could feel his pain and that ending gave me the shivers. Made me think of the ending in the movie A Star is Born. Passing this on.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      My pleasure to help Mary.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Genna I appreciate the wonderful comment and I'm glad I could move you. I could have gone on and on but thought short and sweet would do the trick.

      Paula I think that is the shortest, non-funny comment I've ever seen from you. I guess it did get to you. Thank you my friend.

      Jamie you are most welcome. It was my pleasure.

      Your comment is appreciated Audrey.

      Phyllis, I hope you are right. I've been looking for the inner me in my writing and this is so much fun it just might be it! Glad Jodah gave you the info. Now I'll be looking for your story.

      Thanks f or the help Jodah.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      You are welcome Phyllis.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you, Jodah.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Mary, I cannot find Annart's challenge. Is it in a hub of hers, or in a forum, or the Q&A?

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Beautiful story, Mary. You put so much emotion into Jim that I felt his joy then his sorrow, and his peace. I believe you have found a new part of yourself that is a talented creative writer.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      Really beautiful writing!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      4 years ago from Reno NV

      What a beautiful and beautifully written story. Thank you for this journey of love. Jamie

    • fpherj48 profile image


      4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til...This is absolutely stunning...from beginning to the shattering end. My eyes are stinging from tears....your story reached all the way to my soul.. UP++++

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Mary…

      I’m only now getting caught up with the response to Ann’s challenge. I like the way you begin this story about who Jim is; his struggles growing up; how alone and apart he felt as a “stranger” in two different worlds. And his discovery of endearing love and friendship with Akiko; “that voice with the built in smile.” To lose both her and their unborn child is unimaginably painful…but this is clearly visible in Ann’s painting, which you brought to life through great joy and sadness. Tears fill my eyes with this poignant story and the loss of all three lives. This is writing. Voted up and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      So you knew it had to be! I tried other endings but this seemed to fit the best. Thanks for the vote and shares Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Oh Wow mary! that was awesome! I didn't expect that ending, but yes it was totally right, pure brilliance! voted up and shared all the way!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Thank you Sheila, I thought it might help catch my readers unaware.

      Ah Manatita my friend, I am full of surprises ;). I assure you I'm not done yet :)

      Thanks Bill, the edge of your seat can be a good place to be. Glad you enjoyed.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. All I can say is wow. You had me on the edge of my seat. Powerful writing. Great job.

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      Well-written, fast-paced, thorough and full of sublime beauty and suspense. I 'm not ashamed to say that I did not realised that you were that good, Mary. Another super ending. More ...

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Awesome story! I love how you covered the man's whole life and all of his emotions in such few words.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Thank you DD, glad you like it.

      Good to see you Suzie. Thank you for the kind words. Hope all is well.

      No problem Ann. I need to link others' to mine.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Ref Jodah's remark, I have re-linked this story on my hub; no idea why it didn't work because it looks the same! I've tested it and it works now. Sorry about that. Ann

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Beautifully written my friend, such passion and emotion. You are truly gifted and have a real talent for this style. Well done Mary!!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So greatly written and a beautifully thought of hub. You certainly have your own way here.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      I have to admit Faith, I like writing flash fiction and find the challenges other hubbers propose more than just a challenge. I enjoy them. Thanks for the votes and shares. Hugs.

      Thank you tobusiness!

      Jodah, I guess I found the picture melancholy and went from there. Can't figure out the "no longer published" but glad you perservered. Thanks for the vote.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      A beautiful story Mary, and it took sadness to another level. All the stories based on Ann's picture have been so sad. I tried three times to open the link on Ann's hub to this but it said "no longer published"...eventually got it though. Well done, voted up.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      I have just one word. "Exceptional."

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Mary, this is superb creative writing here! I really enjoyed this brilliant piece. You are a truly talented and should write more creative fiction.

      I am so glad you participated in Ann's challenge. I will have to go back and read the others.

      Voted up +++ tweeting, pinning and sharing


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      What a lovely comment. So happy you took time to read it Vellur.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Spellbound, great write. Sad but beautifully written.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Susan, I am sorry you hurt for so long, but, glad you are doing well now. Sometimes love hurts. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Thank you Ann. I had my doubts but after reading and re-reading several times I let it go. So glad you found it all well timed. Your painting was beautiful and your challenge a good one.

      Bill I will be looking forward to your answer to this challenge, I know its going to be a great read.

      Thanks Cam. You pointed me to this challenge and I loved every minute of it! Reading all the different interpretations has been great too.

      My lovely Maria, its always nice to have your bestie like you work ;)

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Mary,

      Your interpretation of this picture is heartbreaking, powerful and visceral...I absolutely love it. What a perfect song choice as well.

      Voted UP and Awesome, like you. Love, Maria

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      4 years ago from Dallas, Texas through August 23, 2019.

      Mary, this is a beautifully written story that gives us the joy of budding romance and the heartbreak of death and loss. Grief is hard. Life, as you described it, is hard. Thanks for sharing your story. Ann's painting is giving us a lot of variety.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's amazing how different writers can look at the same picture and find a different angle for a story. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I am inspired to take on Ann's challenge....maybe today. :) Well done, Mary.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      This is heart-rending stuff. Beautiful but so, so tragic.

      You set the scene artfully; we understood why the two were soulmates. Therefore we understood why he was so lost without her. The anticipation of the outcome was timed so well and that takes skill.

      I'm blown away by the response to my challenge - all different but all amazing. Thank you so much for penning yours. You've packed in so much emotion, it's left me breathless.


    • SarahAWard-author profile image

      Sarah A Ward 

      4 years ago from Conroe, Texas

      I love your style! The video just enhanced my emotions as I read your story. There are many readers who have experienced these same feelings and yes I have. "Love Restore" is my story. I was able to get past the wanting to die but it took 15 years. Thank you for sharing.

      Sarah A Ward

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Frank, I admire your work so much and read it whenever I can. Having you say my work is awesome is like winning the trophy!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton blown away the ending really stilled my bones.. Loved it voted awesome!!!!


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