The heart wants

The authentic French accent had impressed Melissa once. Even before she realised it, she’d fallen in love——with those slender locks bouncing off  her shoulders and coming to a rest by the hips, manicured finger nails reflecting the soft sunlight, and pruned eyelashes batting against lined, blue eyes.

Mellissa’s young heart yearned. ‘Out of your league,’ her mind piped.

She looked up at her father, who seemed to be searching someone. Mellissa, however, had eyes for none but the speaking French doll.

She sighed. It was too easy to guess her father’s response: “We can’t afford it now, my love.”

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Every little counts

“Let’s crank it up a notch, shall we?”

Julie stared with silent horror and disgust. His eyebrows, build, and attitude left a sour aftertaste at the foot of her tongue which she swallowed with contempt. She couldn’t believe what she had got herself into.

“Go on, 20 more.”

Heaving off the floor where she’d sprawled after the first 30 pushups, Julie continued without complaint. Unable to see the results of her efforts, she wondered, huffing and puffing, if she should reconsider priorities.

Twelve months later, the gold meddle grazed against her heart.

At the gym, her coach prepared for the next round.

Lying

A drunken night it’d been.

Not too long after the wedding, they’d argued, saying things they didn’t mean.

Storming out, he’d stopped at the local bar.

The bartender had been understanding. Pouring his favourite drink, she’d listened all night as he whined. So kind, she’d even offered him her room in the hotel above the bar. He’d been too drunk to drive and sad to go home.

She’d been asleep when he left the following morning. He’d agonised himself before realising his love for his wife.

Regret and a glimmer of lie sustained his marriage.

Until death did them part.

Breathe in, breath out. Day in and out.

Work was mind-numbing. But he couldn’t complain. It was his life, his duty. As a responsible adult and a devoted family man, he had to fend for those who depended on him.

It wasn’t satisfying, but it didn’t have to be. However late they paid the bills. Though thatched, they had a roof over their heads, and regardless of shabbiness, they had clothes.

Nevertheless, each day was painful for the body and soul—with torturous commutes, tormenting communes, terrifying consequences, and terrible conditions. Not only did he haul stones at a construction site, but also the lives of three toddlers.

Service

Though face be the index of the mind, she’d trained never to betray herself—mind or emotion.

Practising every day for 12 years, she altered 25 years’ habits. No one else had achieved that feat, and she—as deserved to—prided herself as the most successful student.

The rest of her batchmates remained while she advanced. Every step of the away, she grew more confident and assertive. Taking on responsibilities she’d never dreamt of before, Lisa became a model for the academy.

Years after serving in the frontline, she looked back one day. With none to call hers, the soldier retired friendless.