The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift

A Story by Rhonda

This is my first attempt at writing a short story. It�s, by far, the most emotional thing I�ve ever written.



Jade stood in her wedding dress behind the closed doors of the church, awaiting the arrival of her father. She examined the dark cherry wood walls of the room she waited in. The simplicity of the room was beautiful; light being the only source of art as it shone through the wide windows. Although she had walked through the heavy wooden doors she now stood before many times, today they seemed different. Today when those doors opened hundreds of people would be waiting behind them. Every eye in the room would be watching each move she made. But more importantly, the man she had decided to spend the rest of her life with was waiting for her to enter. She looked through the veil that flowed over her dark red hair. The covering added only to the dream; was this really her about to get married? She felt foreign to herself; her hair in perfect curls, face covered in makeup. She closed her eyes and wished she could disappear behind the veil. She would return to herself when nobody was looking. She did not wish to disappear because of the covenant she was about to make; she wanted to be alone because she could sort through her feelings better when she was in solitude.
Her father was supposed to have arrived an hour ago. He was expected to “give her away,” but was now no where to be found. Jade smiled with delight. This is perfect, she thought to herself, why should he have the privilege of walking me down the aisle when I never had the privilege of having a father in my life? She had never wanted her father to have this opportunity, but she did not have the heart to tell him that he would be denied something that was to be, traditionally, his. Jade had always been the adult who had to protect her father from the realities of their relationship. She hated herself for having this compassion for him. She wished she could strangle the love she had for her father, take away its very breath. However, one cannot kill love. Love can only be locked in a room within a heart, never to be let free. Although he deserved to be left without any parental rights, she could not be the person to cause him as much pain as he had caused her. While she would feel wrong holding on to the arm of a man that she had never been able to rely on, she loved him and did not want to hurt him.
For just a moment, she felt that glimmer of hope that was buried so deep inside of her that she did not even know existed die inside of her. This was not the first time she felt her father murder any hope and trust she felt towards him, but it was the last. A heart can only be stomped on so many times before it dissipates completely. Happy Birthday, Jade she thought to herself. This was a private phrase Jade said to herself often, a reminder of similar times this had happened to her. The first, of many tainted birthdays, was her sixth when her father had taken her for a drive before her birthday party. The trip ended with Jade sitting on the steps of her house with her father’s wedding ring in hand. Her parents had decided to get a divorce and this was, in his selfish opinion, the most appropriate way of telling his daughter the news. Her mother found her sobbing on the steps. Jade went on with her party, and began teaching herself to pretend that nothing bothered her. Thus, the premature end of her fragile innocence. The wounds in her soul were not made up of specific events, but of a combination of disappointments, frustrations, and injuries. Any important occasion in her life was infected by the fresh cuts that her father would so graciously give her. This pattern continued every year, but it was not until her twelfth birthday that she understood that she could never rely on the man she called Dad. For this birthday, he had promised to take her on a weekend fishing trip. She cancelled everything and prepared for the trip she had anticipated. With bags packed and fresh bait in her tackle box, she waited at the front door until dark. Her special day had been wasted and her hopes let down again. Any hope Jade ever had in her father only met disappointment.
Of all the times he had let her down and spit in her face, nothing hurt her worse than to see the pain he caused her brother. Nothing could ever cause Jade to hate her father, until she recognized the agony her brother lived with. Her younger brother had always needed a father and his father never wanted a son. One night Jade was expected to be at home, but instead was allowed to spend the night at her friends; that night her father came to her house, drunk, with a gun looking for his daughter. When she was no where to be found he kidnapped the next best thing, his son. This was not a desperate attempt to visit his son; it was a manipulative way of hurting Jade’s mother. This was the type of man her father was; considering nothing but himself and his personal agenda.
Throughout her life Jade had become so accustomed to prolonged sorrow that hurt did not deter her from any goal she had set; it had simply become part of life. She learned to survive in the only way she knew how. She knew, from experience, that she could not cope with the pain at the present moment. Because of this, Jade contained the hurt within the same room as her love for her father; she would destroy them together. For now, nothing would bother her. In fact, it felt good to know he did not have the power to hurt her any longer.
Interrupting her thoughts, the only man that had walked by her side her entire life approached her. With his rough, but secure stride, Jade’s younger brother, David, reached her. She smiled at his tartan vest and recalled the pride they shared of their Scottish heritage. The lines of their relationship had been blurred long ago, and now Jade looked upon her brother with as much maternal affection that any mother would. In her life she pretended that she was the one protecting him, when truly he was the one protecting her. When she had met the man she was to wed, Matthew, she immediately brought him home to meet David. Her brother and Matthew shared many of the same qualities; the silent wisdom, stubborn beliefs, and an honest heart. They had immediately become best friends, which made it easier for Jade to begin to trust the man she would soon marry. Matthew was everything her father was not; when he made promises he kept them. Matthew had become as important in David’s life as he was in Jade’s life. He had become a friend whom filled the shoes his father was not willing to walk in.
 David and Jade looked into each others eyes with the understanding that only they shared. When others looked into their lucid blue eyes they convinced themselves they could see into their souls, but with a closer look an observant person could see that the blue surface could not be penetrated.  It was not solely the color of their transparent eyes that made them similar, it was the secret pains they shared that made them so alike. No one could understand how they felt about their father except them. It was one of the millions of strings that had tied them together since birth, an unbreakable bond. There was so much said in that understanding gaze, a language only they could speak. Nothing had to be said about their father, they both knew that words would not help.
As the doors softly opened Jade held her brother’s arm. Although Jade was clearly shorter than her brother, the tall heels she wore made the pair look the same height. The sanctuary was filled with hundreds of people. More love was contained within that room than many people feel in their lives. The dark red carpet accentuated the vibrancy of the sunflowers Jade was holding. Yellow and red lit up the room from every corner, color filled the space that had once been void. The bride’s stark white dress flowed behind her as she walked in sync with the man walking beside her. At this moment, the world was right. Jade walked with a confidence she did not know she had; that confidence came from the man that was walking her into her new life. They were a pair, as they had always been in life. When one was hurt, the other one was the only person that could comfort them. When David had been a toddler nobody, not even their mother, could understand what David was saying except Jade. Most of their lives they shared the same bedroom and stayed up late talking. They made a pact that no matter where life took them they would never leave each other. When one got picked on in school the other was always there immediately to defend their hurt sibling. Through many of life’s troubles they were all they had. David would be the one giving her away because he had been the one that had always stood by her side. Her wedding day would not be perfect if her brother had not been walking by her side. She was so grateful that her father was not present. This is exactly how it should be, she marveled to herself. She was so joyful that she became unaware of the fact that every eye was focused on her. It did not matter that her father was not there, David was, as he always had been. As they walked together, Jade looked at her brother and at her soon-to-be husband and realized that she lacked nothing.
When they reached the threshold the minister asked, “Who giveth this woman to this man?”
“My Mother and me.” replied her brother.

© 2008 Rhonda

Author's Note

Anything and everything is greatly appreciated!

My Review

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Very well done. It's sad that Dad's don't have to pass "dad tests" before they can become one. too many men fall short in this role, as I'm sure women fall short in the mom role, too. It wasn't until I worked at a male adolescent rehab that I realized the "normal" family I came from was not so normal. I had both parents there for me... and didn't know enough to appreciate it until I learned that many people never will.
Excellent write, I'm glad it ended as it did.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Wow. This was extremely well composed. A touching and heart-wrenching story( which is very hard to do in short fiction). I offer you kudos. Nice write.

Posted 10 Years Ago

I had my share of not having a father due to his death--but cannot imagine the pain that comes from a father who is, for whatever reason, alive yet absent. Nice that she was not let down as her brother rightfully filled this spot. Sad though that this was occupying her mind on her special day, so much emphasis put on this "giving away thing".

As a side note: you could say I am "jade'd" a bit, not about your story, but about marriage mending a lacking father on some level. Not that this is the case in your story, perhaps? I am just sorting through the choices we make, the role the husband takes on when a father has been lacking, and the misconception that getting married might make us whole; often veiled until years later. Without having more detail, since this is a short story, I hesitated mentioning this but felt compelled. I fear it is all too common.

I hope this review does not take away from the joy described in the end of this piece and wish the couple and family the best!

-:3 )~~~

Posted 11 Years Ago

Holy s**t. This is f*****g great. Really f*****g great. I suppose cussing is something that should be avoided in reviews. But I don't think it would help to convey how overwhelmed I am in this piece. How much I connect with the characters in such a sort work. I really enjoyed reading this. Just so amazed.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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Added on March 18, 2008
Last Updated on September 8, 2008




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