Love’s Strength


Mickey Minner

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Copyrighted 2022


Wearing worn jeans and a thick sweater, Charlene stood before the bedroom mirror warily studying the woman looking back at her. Smiling wistfully, she gave her head a shake to dissipate the painful memories. “No time for that,” she murmured, recalling the words that haunt her dreams. “Go on with your life.” Carefully, she arranged a thick scarf around her neck to hide the still visible scars from the accident. “Three years and I’m still not ready to leave her behind,” she told her reflection. With a sad but knowing smile, she turned away from the mirror.

Day was rapidly changing to night, when Charlene reached the marina at the west end of town. It had been a favorite of theirs, the go-to place for every occasion. A perfect location for an early morning stroll along the quiet beach front boardwalk; sharing a quick breakfast in one of the small cafes; or a romantic dinner at a restaurant overlooking the docks and assortment of sailing craft moored beside them.

The long wooden pier, repurposed from its days as a loading dock for lumber barges, stretched the length of the parking area. Soft glows from overhead lights placed randomly about the area struggled to brighten the darkness. Charlene drove to the far end of the pier, driving slowly to avoid groups of diners approaching the dazzlingly lit restaurant. Choosing a slot beneath one of the light poles, she parked and turned off the engine. After taking a moment to gather her thoughts, she pushed the door open. Stepping out, the night’s cool breeze welcomed her and, grateful for the sweater’s warmth, she pulled it tighter around her body and headed for her destination.

Accompanied by the sound of placid waves lapping up on the pebble covered beach, Charlene briskly walked along the boardwalk toward a park bench marking the end of the wooden path. Beyond the bench, a chest high rock wall distinguished the pavement of the parking area from the beginning of grass covered hills stretching along the shore. A grove of large oak trees easily towered over the wall and far in the distance a scattering of stone buildings could be seen.

Recognizing the solitary form occupying the bench, Charlene smiled. “Hi,” she said quietly while claiming a seat for herself.

“You’re late.”

Charlene chuckled at the not unexpected response. “Did you expect anything else?” she asked, turning toward the other woman.

“A girl can hope.”

Charlene shifted a little closer to the woman gazing up at the canopy of stars overhead. “You still count them, Jan?” she asked tilting her head skyward.

Jan smiled, “Not any longer, now I just enjoy looking.”

“Sounds like the party is in full swing,” Charlene commented when excited shouts from the restaurant’s patrons floated on the night air to the women.

“Remember the last time we attended the Halloween Bash? It was a…” Jan paused to find the right words to describe the evening.

“An out of control nightmare,” Charlene interposed. “I didn’t know half the people there. And I’ve yet to discover who the idiot in the kangaroo suit was; he must have whacked a couple dozen people with his tail,” she laughed.

Jan grinned. “The manager of Tri-Angular.”

“No,” Charlene blurted. “The CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. And the town’s most serious resident; never laughs… never even smiles. That was him bouncing around like a nut case?” she asked doubtful of the revelation. “I thought he didn’t drink.”

“Apparently, he did that night.” Laughing, Jan reminisced, “What a night, that was.”

Repeating a motion she had made a million times before, Charlene reached for her wife’s hand. “Oh, crap,” she whispered, her hand frozen in mid-air. “How I long to touch you,” she sighed unable to feel the hands cradled within her own.

Jan felt the immense loss of her wife’s hand being slowly retracted. “I’d do anything to change what happened to us.”

Staring down at her hands now clasping each other, Charlene felt a tightness growing in her throat. “But we both know that’s not possible,” she forced out around the lump. Suddenly, she felt the familiar feeling of being embraced.

“I’ve been practicing this,” Jan explained to her bewildered wife. “I can’t touch you but I can envelope you with my love. It’s a weak substitute, I know.”

Squirming about, Charlene attempted to touch each of the wispy swirls of her wife’s essence surrounding her. “It’s wonderful,” she moaned blissfully. “Please don’t,” she pleaded a moment later when the strands of her wife’s love abruptly dissolved.

Heartbroken by the startling briefness of her newly gained ability, Jan apologized, “I can’t maintain this. Maybe next year, I’ll be stronger.”

“No,” Char snapped, tears streaming down her face. “I can’t…”

“I thought it would make you happy.”

Reaching out again, Char was again disappointed when her hands passed through her wife’s translucent body, “It was wonderful, sweetheart. But then… it was like losing you all over again. I don’t think I could endure that.” She slumped back on the bench. “What am I to do? I miss you so much.”

Her eyes clouded by tears, Jan gazed skyward. “You must move on, sweetheart,” she said tenderly. “You must find love again.”

“I found my love when I found you.”

Jan grinned at the memory. “Technically, my dear, I do believe that it was I that found you. Remember, you had experienced a mishap with an ivy vine and were—”

Eyes narrowing at her wife, Charlene groaned, “Yes, I remember. Must you always bring that up?”

“Ah, sweetheart, you did make such an adorable jumble of arms and legs at the bottom of that ravine.”

“My hero,” Charlene sighed. “Of course, it was rather precarious for you to rush to my aid.”

“That slope was steep,” Jan acknowledged, “but it was well worth the effort.”

Silence enveloped the women lost in their own thoughts of love gained then lost.

“I can’t change this, can I?” Charlene muttered.


“I want you back. No matter what form you are in. Come home, please,” Charlene tearfully expressed her deepest wish.

“That would be too painful for me, to be with you but unable to touch…” Jan’s voice trailed off. “It’s just not possible.”

Charlene interrupted. “Yes, it is,” she cried out.

Her heart breaking, Jan rose from the bench. “No. No! You have grieved me long enough. You must find new love and go on with your life,” she said turning away.

“But I love you,” Charlene insisted.

Silently, Jan started gliding toward the stone wall. “A new love is out there… somewhere. Let her find you,” she insisted nearing the wall that proved no barrier to her.

“I’ll be back next year,” Charlene shouted watching her wife’s form passing through the wall.

“But I will not be waiting,” came the woeful but resolute reply.

Powerless to prevent the love of her life forsaking her, Charlene collapsed onto the bench. Her heart aching for the touch she knew she’d never experience again, she let the tears fall without any desire to stop them. It was well past dawn when she made her way back to her car completely unaware of the pair of sorrowful eyes following her movements.

Jan hopped down off the grave marker that bore her name. “I’m sorry for saying that sweetheart,” she whispered watching her wife walking out of her life, “but you know you can be awfully stubborn. I will always own a part of your heart but you have so much love in there for another. Go find her,” she urged. Just as the ground beneath her opened to welcome her home, she added merrily, “And bring her for a visit.”