Author's Note: This is my first entry into the Village Square Writing Festival! This month's theme is Sacrifices, and after reading most of the other entries (and boy do I have my work cut out for me) I noticed they were all particularly cheery stories. And I wondered why. When I think of Sacrifices, I think more along the lines of letting someone go or something sad rather than giving something up for love or some scenario like that. Doing that is not bad at all- just a completely different perspective!! But seeing as how I'm the Prince of Angst, I needed to bring some drama to the contest, hehe.
Please make sure to review and give some compliments, criticisms, etc. I try to constantly be working on becoming a better author, and there are two days to do that: 1. to study and read every day, and 2. to get feedback. I am trying my best to do my share. I am currently reading three books (City of Ashes- my favorite series, Ransom- an okay book, but I like Lois Duncan's others better and I am about to start The Hunger Games) and read several fanfictions a night. But I need your help too so please try your best to submit a review and please make sure to vote for me in the contest! Or, at least leave a review- it'll still make me feel good.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dr. Trent, Ellen, Elli or anything Harvest Moon related in this story. Please do not sue me, hehe.
When roses aren't red
and violets aren't blue,
when you've broke and you've bled
Death overtakes you
Never in my life had I been forced to commit a crime. I was a man of virtue and justice. And yet here I was, breathing face to face with the Grim Reaper himself. He taunted me, coaxing me to make a move. Daring me to do my worst. But my worst was all I could ever possibly do.
Two women lay limp in front of me. One elderly, her face wrinkled and worn from years of learning of life's misgivings. The other young and innocent, wholly naive to any suffering that life can and will bring.
The senior lady's hair was grayed and stringy, like faded cobwebs. Her eyes were cloudy and shone the color of silver. An IV was attached to her frail, bony wrist and a machine that matched her heartbeat was beeping rhythmically next to her.
The youthful woman had locks the color of roasted chestnuts on the most brittle of Winter nights, and her eyes reflected each other's chocolate brown hue. Her stomach was inflated, holding the precious life of a baby boy. She was screeching like a banshee, thrashing and tumbling through the cyan sheets of her hospital bed.
I had to make a choice- and I had to make it right then and there. If I refused to make a move, Death himself would make it for me. I had a moment to decide the fate of these two suffering souls. But I could only save one.
My chest was tight, like a vacuum had extracted all the air it could manage to locate. My eyes were bloodshot and tear-stained. I could feel the beat of my heart as it drummed against my torso, desperate for relief of this never ending pain. I couldn't bear to carry such a cumbersome burden on my delicate shoulders.
"Trent!" The brunette's shrill voice screamed with terror. I knew her contractions had begun but I had other things on my mind. My wife may be giving birth, but my mother-in-law lay slowly wasting away in a bed a mere five feet away.
I gripped her petite palm in my calloused hand and whispered, "Darling, please be strong. Elli, hold on...for your mother's sake." Elli managed to conjure the weakest of smiles but it could not be sustained for very long.
"Trent!! Help!! Please help me!!" Her voice rang in my eardrums. But at this point, I had more pressing matters at hand. She could survive for a few moments longer without any assistance from me.
"Elli, I can't help you. Not right now." How horrid that sounded. The words spat like venom from my mouth. But it was all the honest truth. I could do nothing for her right now.
The machine next to my grandmother-in-law started sounding, warning me that her heart was rapidly failing. I turned towards her heart scanner and noticed the neon green lines darting around the screen. She was dying and if I didn't something- anything- now, she would have no chance of possibly surviving.
However, if I didn't help my wife with our baby, she could also die in childbirth. And if I do nothing, then I'll have lost both of the closest people in my life. It was a lose-lose situation.
I did the only thing my mind could compute- I cried. I sat at my grandmother's bedside and wept. She gripped my hand and I glanced up at her eyes. They were dark and distant, as if looking straight through me.
She grinned faintly and muttered, "Sweetie, please don't worry yourself with a decrepit old woman like me. I will die sooner or later. I want you to help your wife with your child. I want to see my great-grandchild once before I die. Please, Trent, save my daughter."
The words stung in my ears. She thinks I can just let go of her so easily? She's the closest thing I have ever had to a true mother and now she's telling me to let her die? I can't do that. I won't. But if not her... then I'll have lost Elli. And Ellen will follow suit soon after.
"It's your move," Death whispered devilishly into my ear. His faint crystal clear voice chilled my bones right down the marrow. "I have a king and all that remain for you are your queen and prince. One will have to be sacrificed to save the other...but who will you choose to be murdered? Don't take too long or you won't have a decision to make." He chuckled menacingly and the only remnant of him were his doubts planted in my brain that echoed throughout my skull.
Ellen had been like a mother when I had no other. When my own mother appeared at her doorstep and thrust me into her arms and promptly fled without another word, she cared for me through thick and thin. Through sickness she nursed me back to perfect health, through hardships she supported me wholeheartedly- and she did all this while dealing with two other grandchildren and a deceased daughter.
And then there was Elli. Sweet, compassionate Elli. Always loving and thoughtful, swaying into the hospital with a carefree spirit. I had never met a woman so caring and generous in all of my days. She was truly a special soul- the Harvest Goddess had blessed her dearly. And she never forgot to thank her, either. Could I give up my spouse and my only child for one chance at saving my wannabe parent?
No. I couldn't. I clasped her hand and comforted her with, "I'm sorry, Grandmother. I'm so sorry." I sobbed, but she merely stifled a chuckle and stared straight into the ceiling.
And as she breathed her last, I swore I heard her voice croak, "Elise, dearest, is that you?" But maybe it was just my selfish flesh hoping that she would once again reunite with her daughter at long last, so that they could spend eternity together.
Now I had to concentrate on my soulmate. She was heaving out our child on the parallel side of the room. Sweat poured down her porcelain skin and blood rushed to her face. "Push just a bit harder, my dear," I cooed. "It will all be over soon."
Her labor was painful and excruciating. A full six hours of screeching and wailing and contractions and broken water. It was more than she thought she could handle. But she prevailed throughout the storm.
After hours upon hours, I could finally hold my precious little boy in my arms. But something wasn't quite right. He was pale and his eyes were tightly sealed. Oh... oh no. "Honey," Elli choked out after catching her breath, "how is the baby?"
I couldn't break it to her. I couldn't bring myself to tell her that our only baby was... "...he's wonderful, dear. You have done a great job."
She reached out a bony hand towards her child and asked, "Can I hold him?" She bore a hopeful smile across her sweat drenched face.
"...No." Was all I managed in response. She cocked her head in bewilderment. She worked for six straight hours and she wasn't even allowed to hold her own baby? It was pure horror watching the realization hit her like a brick. She appeared as if she were a mere puppy kicked hard in the gut when it was abandoned in the cold city streets.
"He...he wasn't a- don't tell me it..." She stuttered frightened. "...it was a stillbirth, wasn't it?" Reluctantly, I nodded gravely. Her whole world was shattered in a single moment of truthfulness.
Her hands crushed her face with such intensity I thought she might bruise herself. She bawled and sobbed miserably, muttering every few seconds about, "why did this happen to me?" and "my poor child. I'm so sorry, Eli. Mommy's so, so sorry!"
I held her close to my body, pressing her tear-stained face against my chest. I stroked her silky hair, curling the locks around my finger. Her melancholy cries consumed my ears.
But I soon felt a different kind of hand on my shoulder. Skeletal and icy to the touch it caressed my arm. A poisonous requiem danced in my skull, "Oh, dear Doctor, did you make a mess? Could you not save not only your grandmother but your darling baby boy as well? Oh my, what ever shall you do? Poor little Trent, trapped in an eternal spiral of despair. Poor, weak, insignificant Trent." Death's voice echoed sharply in my head.
I crumpled in my beloved's arms. It was true. I was a pathetic doctor with amateur medicinal skills and mediocre tools of the trade. I couldn't save my own family's life. I was a loser.
I had sacrificed the life of my guardian angel only to lose the life of another. This was a lifelong curse- an endless labyrinth. A maze with no end. A puzzle with a missing piece. A temporary solution to a permanent problem. And now, I sit alone, with no mother or son to call my own.
"Checkmate," Death declares and I stand and stare as my prince and my queen are destroyed once and for all. I had lost the game, and there was no rematch to be had.
"Checkmate, my foolish pawn."
Author's Note: Well how was it? It was meant to be depressing so if you feel depressed, then I succeeded! But if you feel all cheery and happy, then I utterly failed. I wrote in first person this time around, as I felt like I should focus solely on Doctor. And it was definitely different from my normal style so I'm sorry if you see "his" or something similar in this story- I tried to edit for spelling/grammar mistakes as best as I could, but I'm not perfect so cut me some slack. I hope you guys enjoyed reading my angsty little literature here and please make sure to review as I always want to be improving my writing! Bye~