THE FOURTEENTH MAN
(One of the stories to be found in my book "STORIES FROM THE HEART")
It was one of those wonderful days that only happen in between Summer and Autumn. The soft sun of the Summer, mixed with the gentle chill
that heralded the coming of winter through the ever changing shades of Autumn. Even the hard sidewalks
of the big city that she knew so well, did not feel so cold. Live was not so scary, and there was hope in her step as she gone to the cyber
cafe for her normal chat with friends, and some much needed warmth.
She had past "hello's" to the normal crowd whom spend time on the worlds internet highway and was herself
settling in for conversation with her friends from all over the world, let alone the country. "Friends with no faces" she called them.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of her best friend, and at once she knew something was wrong.
Mikie was her friend, but more that , he was her mentor, and but for the fact that the both of them were
interested in the same sex, would have been something far, far more. He had been the reason she had managed to
get her life back in order after the death of her other dearest friend. He was the one who had taught her to look up, to aim for the stars
and together they had planned to get their lives back in order. He was the reason she lived each day to see the sun, and the person
who lit up in her darkest hours.. Yes, he was much, much more than a friend
But this day she knew something was wrong, she had not seen him for several days, and had worried about him. Mikie face was even more
grey than he normally was, his eyes, normally sparkling with life, were dull and red rimmed.
"I need to talk with you" he had said, no reason, and she knew it was something she needed to hear, almost as much as she was scared to hear it
They walked to the park, and sat on a bench the sun light dappling through the spiraling leaves as the fell from the trees.
He turned to her and tried to force a smile, then as the ground seemed to open up beneath her, he told her of his illness.
He told her of this disease that would soon be ending his life, and with that her mind shrieked with fear, not again, not again it kept saying to her. She could not take another friend leaving her.
They sat in the park until the first silver beams of the moon, replaced the pale sunlight. They talked they hugged, they cried. He told her that no matter what
she would be ok, and that he would always be there with her. He made her promise that she would keep reaching for the stars, looking up, climbing up, no matter
how many times she slipped he would be there supporting her, but she must live for the both of them. She must reach those stars.
As they walked back arm in arm, a strange peace filled her, knowing he had told her, and only guessing how much of an effort that had took, her resolve to keep
her promise to him became stronger than ever. And as she kissed him good night, she knew that her life would go on, and that he would always be there with her.
That had been several weeks ago, several weeks in which they crammed all that they could of being together and filling their lives with each other. Then this morning, she had been told
what she knew, what they both knew would happen. This morning, he had not woken from his drugged helped sleep, this morning
he had left all the pain that had racked his body these many weeks.
She shed tears, her heart ached, but her resolve was their, and his words keep her strength through a very hard day.
They had planned to go out that evening, had she had two tickets to go and see David Copperfield, the magician. He had been so
excited at the thought, and they had talked about it for many hours. She knew she had to go, she had to
for fill what she knew was his wish, she had to keep climbing, keep reaching for those stars. But she also knew
that if she sat their with an empty seat next to her, she would break down, every time she looked at it, knowing it was Mikie's and now he was gone
She spoke to a friend of theirs, and explained the situation, Andy understood, and said that he would go with her, hold her hand, try and be there
as Mikie had always been there for her.
The show went by and she managed to bite her lip every time a tear started to fill her eyes at the thought of the man whom she had lost.
Then for the final trick, the magician, asked for 13 men to come up on the stage, and with a final flourish he made them all disappear.
The applause died down, and the lights
came up. She had sat there a smile on her lips, that when Andy turned and looked at her, produced a puzzled look on his face.
"Did you not see" she said "Did you not see?" He again gave her a puzzled look.
She took his hand in hers. "Andy did you not see?, there were not 13 men on that stage, there were 14.
Andy I saw Mikie there, he was there, and smiling at me, straight at me" Her voice choked and she gripped Andy's hand tighter.
"Andy, Mikie was there, he was the 14th man, and as he vanished with the others, he looked straight at me, and told me the pain
was gone, and that he was going to a far better place. He made me promise once more, and then he was gone"
Andy had looked at her once more, and taking her hand lead her smiling from the theater
She knew she would never forget Mikie, he would always be there for her, helping her. She would climb that hill and reach for those stars,
and keep the promise she had made to the 14th man.
Unlike most of my stories, this one is basically true, based on one of friends, and her life.
One of our "Friends with no faces"
Barry Eva 2002
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