Rachels Love: A Short Story by Brenda Cooper
They met on a screen one evening in the Fall nearly 8 years ago, neither one had wanted to be there but friends had persisted. Both were alone, having gone through the break up of their respective marriages a few years earlier. Rachel was skeptical and afraid of the internet world. Having little and somewhat disastrous experience with love in the real world she was hesitant. Could you really find love on the internet? It seemed such a risk having heard all the horror stories but, she had promised, and having done so, felt an obligation to at least try.
Joining a popular dating site she posted her profile which was now complete. Nearing 40 years old she was still considered on the pretty side with soft brown eyes, short, wavy, auburn hair that shone with hints of gold in the sun. A sprinkling of freckles on her face and a welcoming ready smile for everyone she met. Still she was skeptical, 40 years old was not a popular age in these times, but thinking of her promise she took a deep breath, said a small prayer, jumped in and visited one of the recommended chat rooms. Upon entering and seeing over three hundred people all chatting at once, she immediately felt overwhelmed and completely lost.
After being beaten in her first marriage and dealing with a drunkard in her second, there was a certain kind of man she wanted and held out little hope he could be singled out in a chat room of that size.
All Rachel ever wanted out of life was to know what it felt like to be loved. She wanted to feel strong arms pulling her close assuring her she was safe and protected by that special someone. Her life up to that point had been loveless and lonely but nonetheless it had given her a great capacity to give love and she now longed to know it herself.
After a few weeks with no prospects she was sure it had been a waste of time so she decided to give it up. What did she expect, a miracle? A few nights later, another Friday night alone, as she sat at her computer returning emails, something just kept nagging at her to go online one last time. Finally , giving in, she logged on and upon entering the same chat room was surprised to see only two people. Silas and Chloe. Immediately she was drawn to his name, Silas, she'd always liked the strong sound of it. Could it be his real name? Entering she said hello and they all started talking. What a great time, Silas was so funny, a true joy to have in anybody's company. Chloe, friendly and witty, seemed quite at ease making Rachel feel like her best friend. For 3 hours nobody else entered that chat room. How strange, then giving into the moment, gave it no more thought. Moments later out of the blue something happened. Laughing, having a great time, Chloe and Rachel decided to gang up on Silas, he seemed so cute and they couldn't resist picking on him a little, then feigning insult he came back with just six little words. It was like lightning struck Rachel's heart.
She never told me what those words were. She said nobody would understand and might even laugh. Those words too precious to share and too memorable to forget were lovingly tucked away in her heart. When she heard them tears began to slip from her eyes. She lifted her head to the ceiling and cried to the Lord, "he's the one isn't he Lord. The one I prayed for". This man had so effortlessly stolen her heart in such a short time and she knew no matter what she would love him in the truest sense for all time.
After that Rachel and Silas hit it off so well that both agreed to email off site and easily slipped into instant messaging. Eventually the more they learned about each other, (Silas, being his real name afterall, was 3 years older, running and working a long held family business, was also a preacher ), they realized they had to make the next step to talking on the phone.
A time was set for the phone call. Rachel had never been more nervous in her life. As the time approached for Silas' call, the fear of missing it prevented her from doing anything but literally sitting by the phone and waiting. Finally it rang, shaking from head to toe she answered and there he was. The sound of his voice making her heart cry out in longing. It was like a reunion between best friends, there seemed to be nothing they couldn't talk about. So many things about each other were shared and common interests were endless. Time stood still and before they knew it 7 hours had passed with nary a pause in conversation. The call ended with plans made for another........
Time slipped by and three years had passed and not once had they looked into each others eyes but Rachel's love for Silas grew with each call. She had found the kind of man she wanted. One who stood on Gods word. One who honored marriage as it should be. A man who she could, with no doubt, trust. Silas made her laugh. That was important to Rachel. Life had never given her much laughter. She could tell him anything, he accepted her. Oh if she could just once look into his eyes and maybe touch his face. If only they could meet after all this time If only he could see the love in her eyes. Rachel longed to hear those three precious little words but things just seemed to have settled into a comfortable "friendship" where Silas was concerned. So once again putting her desires aside she continued to be "just friends", continued to hold Silas close to her heart and for another five years continued to love..... and hope.
I think that was the hardest thing Rachel ever did, loving Silas. She loved him so deeply. She wasn't obsessed with him as some ignorantly claimed her to be. They didn't Know or understand her like I did. Rachel knew what true love was and though she may never have received it herself, she knew how to give it. Rachel was perfectly willing to sacrifice the only thing she ever wanted in life and accept only what Silas was able to give. She knew how to love unconditionally and to give without expecting anything in return.
Silas had known for some time that Rachel loved him. He would have had to been deaf not to hear it in her voice or see the love in the packages she sent filled with things she'd made just for him or the loving words wrote in the cards she sent. No, Silas knew Rachel loved him and he knew he loved her too, but he was afraid. He held back I suppose because it was safer. If only he'd taken the time to just once come see her he'd have known how safe her love was. What a true gift he had been given, how rich his life would have been.
Even though we've never met I get angry at Silas. Sometimes I even hate him but how could he have known. I wonder if he gets angry at himself. Does he have regrets? does he wonder what if...?
Suddenly one Fall afternoon, Rachels favorite time of year, still never knowing love, Rachel died. She died with Silas' name on her lips and for all time in her heart.