My 10 year old daughter had a writing assignment to do this weekend using “juicy words” and “fantastic figurative languages”. It was supposed to be what would happen if she found cupid the day before valentines day with a broken wing and had to be his helper. I suggested that it could be a sad story, which she loved that idea.
All day we kept talking about the story as she wrote it. Forming the time line, building characters, plotting the story. Every time we talked about what would happen in the next paragraph she would start crying, thinking about the characters and their feelings. After she wrote her version I wrote this to show how she could use even more descriptive words to get stronger emotional responses from readers. Man did it get an emotional response, more than I expected…..
Now keep in mind that this story is geared for young readers, not adults. Also, that it was written in a matter of how fast I can type, not planned out, and isn’t edited.
The Absent Love
He sat there on that late winters evening like he did every year, waiting patiently on the friends that never came. His brown eyes, those dark brown eyes, they still gleamed with the life and exuberance of the 5th grade boy that sat in that same spot so long ago. His hair a little messy, tousled by the breeze, still with the funny cowlick in the front that Abbie always picked on him about. It was a nice park, the only park he knew really. At least the only one that meant something to him.
He watched the joggers go by, ear buds in, huffing and puffing, in their own little world. The moms power-walking with the strollers, talking about their husbands and kids and futures. He heard a young couple laughing. They were high school age, sitting on a blanket, feeding the ducks and the fish in the pond. Oh to be in love. An ever so small tear came to his eye, his smile faded a little. That boyish look left his face, and in an instant the gleam from his eye left as a tear, leaving a trail down his cheek.
It was the same every year. Different people, different ages, but the same feeling. He knew it would be no different this year, not that he would change it though. Nothing would ever make him feel any different, he almost looked forward to it.
A voice called out “Josh. Josh, what are you thinking about?” A loving caress of a woman’s hand ran through his hair. She played with the small curl, now sticking up because of the breeze. “Hi baby. Just thinking that its time that I tell you why I sit here alone every Valentine’s Day eve. I want it to be shared with our child. I want you to know the whole story.”
Josh and Abbie grew up in a small rural town. They lived in a cute, well-manicured neighborhood, with lots of kids there, and a park across the street. They went to school together for as long as they could remember, sometimes they had different teachers, sometime they were in the same class. It was their 5th grade year that they became really good friends. Abbie and Josh walked to classes together, had lunch together, and rode the bus together. Abbie thought boys were gross and stinky, Josh thought the same about girls, but they seemed to not mind each others company. I didn’t hurt that their parents were friends and they would all enjoy dinner together on weekends some times.
One winter evening, Valentin’s Day eve to be exact, Abbie finished dinner and asked her mother if she could meet Josh in the park across the street and play for an hour or two. She begged and begged since they haven’t been able to play in a while, and it was the first chance she had to go outside in a long time. Hesitantly, her mother let her, under the condition she dress warm and that she was very careful and not too rough. Abbie was so happy she was already putting her coat on and calling Josh before her mom finished her sentence. Josh said that he’d met her at their usual spot, the old park bench by the trees, in the corner of the park.
Abbie got the bench first. It was a quiet spot, not too close to the playground, or the woods, about a Frisbee throw away from the fish pond (she knew this because the class clown came and took her Frisbee the year before and flew it there). Abbie and Josh’s parents liked the spot because they could both see it from their kitchen windows, and the police station was across the street. No one would ever have to worry about bad people there. Also, for some reason, no other kids would play there. Just the occasional older person would sit and enjoy the quiet place for a bit.
As Abbie was doodling on a valentine card she was making for her teacher she hear a little smack, like a squirrel or bird hit the tree above her head and had fallen to the ground beside her. To her dismay, there lay CUPID!!!! Yes, Cupid. The guy that goes around every year, shooting his arrow into innocent boys and girls, forever changing their lives.
As Cupid lay motionless, she gently sat beside him, only to notice a few things. First, he actually wasn’t wearing a diaper, or naked, like in the pictures in the books. He was actually wearing jeans, a t-shirt, a jacket, boots, and a leather helmet looking thing. Second, he wasn’t little, not at all. If anything, he was maybe an inch or two taller than her friend Josh. And third, his wing was broken.
Abbie took out a tissue from her backpack and started to wipe some of the dirt off Cupid face and jacket when he regained his consciousness. Startled, he sat up quickly, not realizing the pain that he was really in, and started to disappear. Softly, she touched his hand and said “You’re hurt. Let me help you Cupid. Please, let me help.”
The pain overwhelmed him. He couldn’t fly. Couldn’t disappear. Couldn’t stand. He could barely even talk. Slowly he spoke to her. “Thank you Abbie. This is the first time anyone has helped me, much less seen me.” Caught a bit off guard, she asked “H, h, how do you know my name?” Cupid replied “I was coming to see you, Abbie, then I hit this stupid tree. I was looking around to see if Josh was coming, and BAM!! Tree got me”.
Surveying the extent of his injuries, Cupid knew that even though his luck was bad that day, it was good at the same time. He and Abbie sat and talked for what seemed like hours, but was only minutes. Something magical must have happened that day, for in all Cupids years, of all the couples he had brought together, he had never fallen in love, yet he had fallen for Abbie in and instant. Maybe because he never had the thoughtful touch of another, the gentle hand of a loving friend… His mind was buzzing….was it from the hit on the head? Was it from his rapid heartbeat from meeting this wonderful girl? In his mind he was asking himself “Is this what love feels like?” “Did I just say that out loud?” “Should I tell her how beautiful she is?” A million things were going through his head….but he had a blank stare on his face…..
A voice called out “Cupid. Cupid, what are you thinking about?” A loving caress of a girls hand ran through his hair. “Cupid, this is my best friend Josh. He was coming to meet me when, um, we umm, when you…” Cupid quickly cut her off “Hi Josh! It’s great to meet you”.
In no way did Cupid want Josh to know that he was supposed to be the one Abbie was to fall in love with. As selfish as it was, Cupid didn’t want to take a chance of Abbie liking Josh instead of him. He had to think quickly. How could he find a way to spend the most time with Abbie, without making her fall for Josh? “Josh, I’m so happy that I met you and Abbie. You see, I’ve had this little accident and broke my wing. Now I can’t deliver the arrows that help couples to fall in love. Do you think you can help me?” Josh, quit confused at the rapid turn of events, asked “Me? How am I supposed to do that? I’m a fifth grader and I don’t even like girls. Well, except for Abbie. She’s my best friend. Besides, I don’t know anything about shooting arrows, love, or couples. What if I miss? There’s not enough time to teach me anyway. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!!!” “Easy” said Cupid. “My helmet is what makes me get the job done. It slows time enough to find the couples that truly deserve true love. You can shoot from a really, really, long way away once you find them. You don’t even have to leave the park. I know that if I had a park like this, I would never leave.” Cupid stopped, he realized that he probably said too much, and may have given away his intentions since he was staring at Abbie the whole time he was talking to Josh.
After a few minutes, a few practice shots, and some rushed instructions from Cupid, Josh agreed to help. The three sat in the park, on that very bench, and picked out some of the most unfortunate couples to fall in love, as well as some of the cutest couples too. Some young, some old, some childhood friends, and love at first sight couples.
Over the next few months Abbie, Josh, and Cupid became the best of friends. There wasn’t a thing that Abbie wouldn’t do for Cupid or Josh, she was the perfect friend. Cupid felt guilty for not doing his job by having Josh and Abbie fall in love, but he also knew that his job was just to help. True love cannot be force upon someone, it just happens.
Josh and Cupid also became best of friends. They had so much in common. They like the same style of clothes, the same baseball team, and both loved to fish. When Abbie wasn’t around they fished in the lake, when she was around they fed the ducks (she didn’t like to touch fish, so they didn’t fish with her).
As summer passed and the trees started to lose their leaves, Abbie and Josh went back to school and spent less time in the park. This drove Cupid nuts because his two best friends weren’t around as much. As Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years passed, the snow got deeper, the sun went down earlier, and it got colder.
Abbie was spending less and less time with Josh and Cupid now. Cupid asked Josh one day as they were taking off the ice skates after playing hockey on the lake in the park, “Why didn’t Abbie come out? I thought she LOVED to skate.” Josh just shrugged his shoulders, kicked his skates off, and said “She’s not home, no one answered their phone.” Cupid replied “Well, remind her that the one day of the year that I actually have to work is in two days. We need to do a little practice with my new bow before then. We need to not miss like last year. As cute as the pet potbellied pig and parrot couple were on YouTube, that romance was not meant to be, and should have never happened!” Josh just rolled his eyes, and said that if Abbie wouldn’t have sneezed on him, he wouldn’t have bumped Cupid as he shot.
The morning of Valentine’s Day started off a little gloomy. The snow was wet and melting, making the walk in the park a muddy mess. The sun was hiding behind the clouds like it didn’t want to come out. When Cupid walked up to their bench, he saw Josh was alone.
“Why are you late?” Cupid said. “It’s my only work day and you two are making me late? And you aren’t looking like you are too excited to have some fun!!” Josh just lowered his head a little more, his shoulder sagged down like he had heavy weights on them. He gave a little sniffle, his nose was running. “Where is Abbie? And why are you wearing that black jacket and your fancy shoes? It’s muddy out here for crying out loud?”
“She’s gone” said Josh. “What do you mean she’s gone? Where did she go? She didn’t tell me anything.” Replied Cupid.
“She loved you Cupid. She was so happy with you, so happy to help you. She would have done anything to make you happy. That’s why she didn’t tell you Cupid.”
“Tell me what? Where did she go JOSH? Are you afraid that I will go see her without you? YOU are my best friend Josh. TELL ME WHERE SHE IS!! We can both go see her with my magic.” Cupid said as if he was unstoppable.
“Not where she is. You can’t see her. No one can, Cupid. She died in the hospital last night. Abbie was sick for a long time. She was already sick when we met you. Her parents let her spend so much time playing with us because they knew she wouldn’t be able to play as much as time went along.” Josh wept. He took a deep breath, “Cupid, I loved Abbie for a long time, as long as I can remember. I also knew you loved her too. I didn’t want to fight over her, that would have caused sorrow for her, and she didn’t need that. I don’t know what I am going to do without her, Cupid. But I still need my best friend, please.”
Cupid pulled out of his jacket pocket the Valentines card that Abbie was making the day they had met. She had crossed out the “Happy Valentine’s Day” and wrote “Get well soon” on it. He lay it on the ground, in the exact same spot that she had found him over a year ago, when he fell.
Josh and Cupid sat on that bench together and cried. They met every day after school, sat on that bench, and cried. Over time the tears lessened, they would have good memories of Abbie too. They laughed about the times they would chase each other, or imitate the people jogging, or shoot people with two arrows instead of one. But they still cried often.
When Josh would leave, Cupid would give him a hug and tell him “I love you, my best friend”, and Josh would do the same. He never told Abbie he loved her. He never want to be afraid to tell his friend this, while he still had the chance to say it. When Josh went home though, he had a family to be with. Cupid had no one, which made him sad. The love of his life left him forever, and his best friend left him every day. Cupid cried every day. He never told Josh this because he didn’t want Josh to feel bad for him, especially since he didn’t allow Josh to have Abbie as his true love.
It was a nice February morning. The sun was out, they didn’t have much snow that winter, so it wasn’t even muddy. Josh thought was strange that Cupid was sleeping on their bench when he walked up, so he did it walked quietly. He was about to jump on Cupid and scare him when he noticed a small note taped to Cupids backpack. It read,
“Josh, you are the best friend anyone could ever ask for. You have put aside your feelings for Abbie to let her be happy, even though you loved her. You let me have someone to love. I am sorry that I was selfish, Abbie should have been your girlfriend, but I fell in love with her since the moment I seen her. I have been dying since I have lost her.
“He’s gone. I can’t believe you’re gone.” Josh sat next to Cupid, pulled him up and hugged him like he did every day. “I love you, my best friend”, he said, just as he said every day since they lost Abbie. Josh never knew what Cupid did every day as they parted. When Josh or Abbie asked, Cupid would just say “I go home” and left it at that. As Josh held Cupid, he told Cupid that it was ok, that he could “go home”. At that instant Cupid began to fade away. The only one to ever see this before was Abbie, she seen him start to disappear the day they met, but that time Cupid stayed.
As Josh gathered up the items Cupid left behind, he realized that Cupid left his bow and arrow, his backpack, and his helmet. Cupid respected his friend enough, knew that Josh was a good enough person, that despite his feelings, his love for one, that he would put others chances for happiness in front of his own.
He noticed that the get well card from Abbie had never disappeared. It was in the exact same spot that Cupid placed it in when Abbie died. Next to it now there was a small stone in the shape of a heart. On it in Cupids handwriting it said “Abbie, the one true love of the one that granted true love”
“Honey, all these years, this is where I come. I come to see my friends. I haven’t seen Abbie since grade school, but I know she’s here. Same with Cupid, he is home.” Josh reached into his coat pocket and pulled out 2 cards, one for Abbie and one for Cupid. He laid them both on the ground, next to the bench. Although the ground was covered in leaves and snow, you could see little glimpses of paper and ribbons from previous years, the memories written down by Josh on the cards he brings every year. There was an outline of the heart shaped too. Josh didn’t bother to uncover it, he knew it was still there, magically protected by the true love of Cupid for Abbie.
As Josh sat and reflected on the past, the woman touched his hair again. As he turned to her she asked “After all these years, all the heartache, pain, loneliness, why are you sharing this with me now? Josh, I love you with all my heart, and we will make it. Together, we will be together forever.” Josh smiled and reached under the bench. As he pulled out an old backpack, he said to her, “Abigail, you are my one true love. I have more to tell you. I want our son, Abe, to have this”. He pulled the helmet, the bow, and arrows from the backpack. “You know, Abigail, I have been sick for a long time. I will not be around much longer and wanted our son to know about me. To know about Abbie and Cupid, of true love. He is very young now, just a baby, and may have no memories. I know that you will miss me, and I will miss you. I think that Abe will be the one that can bring true love to others.” With that, Josh handed Abigail the backpack.
A young brown eyed boy, elementary school age, and his mother were walking in the park. The boy asks his mom “Why doesn’t anyone ever sit at that bench? Is it broken?” The lady looks at the boy, gives a gentle smile and tells him “It is not broken. Actually, it couldn’t be more perfect. I think today is a great day to sit there. I have a wonderful story to tell you.”