Excerpt from Eli's Heart. Krissy and Eli are young, in love, and dealing with some pretty overwhelming problems ... primarily, Eli's severe congenital heart defect. A talk about her choices for her senior voice recital, and whether Eli will perform with her, lead to a serious argument.
Krissy had thought when she chose the Schumann that performing the final song in the cycle might be difficult for her. The thought of his death was in both their minds. They never spoke of it, because Eli embraced life; it was one of the things Krissy most loved and admired about him.
Eli never said it, but because of his damaged heart he was aware every sunrise, every sunset, every good meal, every beautiful piece of music might be his last. Despite that, he was full of hope and plans for the future.
Then he said, lightly, “Besides, if I didn’t play for you, who would? Eddie?”
Without thinking, Krissy said, “Well, I had considered asking him.”
Eli abruptly stood and walked over to the piano. He turned and looked at her, and she was surprised to see his face was flushed and his eyes were blazing. “Are you serious? Good God, Krissy. You know he’s still in love with you.” He almost yelled at her.
Eli had never raised his voice at her, and she was shocked. “Why would you say that? I never see him. I don’t know when you’ve seen him.”
Krissy had no idea what was going on in his head. She was shaking inside. “Tell me what you’re thinking, Eli. I can’t read your mind. I can tell you’re upset, but I have no idea why.” She wanted to touch him, but he seemed untouchable at that moment. “There are some things we’ve never really talked about that we probably should.”
All this was staring them in the face because of a piece of music she wanted to sing. Maybe her performing the Schumann song cycle was a very bad idea. He turned his face away from her.
She took a deep breath and composed herself. They had to talk about this. She moved over so she was sitting directly opposite him. “When you were fifteen, when I first met you, you told me you probably wouldn’t live to be thirty. You were twenty-one in May. You never talk to me about any of this. Why is that? We talked about how things were when you were younger. We’ve never talked about ...” she stopped again. He was looking at the floor. “Eli, please look at me,” she said. “Please talk to me.”
He finally looked at her. “We never talked about what would happen if I should die suddenly,” he said flatly. It wasn’t easy to say. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t even want to think about it.
“My parents were told I could die. Just like that. They were told I’d probably make it to thirty. That’s just great, isn’t it? Is this the talk you’ve been waiting for, Krissy?”
He stood and started to pace the room. He sounded as if he were daring her to say anything at all.
This was ridiculous; she was his wife. He had to stop this. She took his hands and said, more firmly, “Why did you get so upset when I said I’d thought about asking Eddie to play for me if you couldn’t? Why can’t we talk about this, Eli?” She moved her hands to his shoulders. Her voice softened. “I’m your wife. We’ve been married nearly a year. You must know how much I love you. Why in the world are you jealous of Eddie?”
Eli looked at her, his anger spent. His shoulders sagged. He couldn’t believe he’d spoken so harshly to her. He moved away from her and slumped down on the sofa, put his head in his hands and looked at the floor. He spoke so softly she had to put her hand on his shoulder and bend down to hear him. “Because he, he loves you, and he doesn’t have a damaged heart. He wouldn’t die on you. He’d be around to take care of you.”
Krissy knelt beside him on the sofa and put her arms around him, pulling his head to her breast. Her voice shook as she spoke. “It’s you I love, Eli. It’s you I want to be with. I told you that when I asked you to marry me. Have you forgotten?”
He took a deep, shaky breath. “We need ... I need to talk to you more. I can’t pretend I’m okay, because I’m not.” He paused. “I get scared. I get angry.”
He stopped, and she saw the anguish on his face. “I want to live forever. I hate that I have this ...” he stopped for a moment, and his mouth twisted. He pressed a fist against his heart as he said, “ ... this broken heart.”
He had never said this to her. He had alluded to it in a letter, but hearing him say it made her ache for him. She felt her own heart break. She put her arms around him again, and pulled him as close to her as she could; he clung to her. The room grew very quiet.
Eli's Heart and all my novels are available on Amazon, paperback and Kindle.
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