Complete the short story/flash fiction, that has the following opening:
The crying was soft, muffled by arms and clothes, yet it still woke Sasha from her sleep. She opened her eyes slowly, trying to place the crying before she moved. Within moments she realized who it was and where it was coming from. A quick pat from her hand on the cold, empty bed beside her confirmed her fears. She sat up, tossed the sheets to one side, put on her robe and started for the walk-in closet.
This wasn’t the first time she had done this, but it was close to the last. The pain, the uncertainty and the fear of what might happen were pulling at her mind. She loved Theo with all her heart, but she wasn’t sure that was enough, for either him or her. They both needed stability, but most of all she needed some hope for the future. Hope that he could change. Hope that their life together would get better. Hope that this was all but a bad dream from which she and Theo would awaken.
She opened the doors of the walk-in closet and saw Theo in the middle of the floor, curled up into a ball, trying to cry silently into his arms. Covering him like a little blanket was a torn, bloodied rag that at one point had been a beautiful black gown. His wife’s gown. His dead wife’s gown.
They had gone to the opera, recipients of two tickets they had won at a fundraiser for the opera. They decided to dress up for the evening, pretending to be like the aristocracy of old, hobnobbing with the rich and famous. From what Theo had told her it had been a glorious evening, filled with an intense experience at the opera and a wonderful late meal at a small bistro near the theatre.
On the way back they had stopped at a red light and he leaned over to kiss her. As their lips touched a drunk driver rear-ended their car, pushing them into the intersection where they were batted around like a pinball. He had spent six months in the hospital. She never made it. Theo blamed himself for her death and for the first two months he was under constant suicide watch. But he pulled through.
She met him almost a year after he left the hospital at a support group for survivors. They shared stories, coffee and soon became friends. But every month, on the anniversary of her death, she would lose him for the evening as he cried in his closet covered by the torn gown that his wife had died in. While she admired the depths of his love, she needed to know if there was a chance for Theo and her. She needed to know if she would always be in second place.
She sat down beside him, gently tugged on his arms until he lay partially curled up in her lap. With calm, patient hands she stroked his hair and murmured soothing sounds. His crying soon slowed to a trickle. As he fell asleep he softly said “I love you, Eve.”
Sasha sat there, tears slowly falling from her closed eyes.
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