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The Beginning and End of Everything
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Her love was peace in his silent war.
When I was ten years old, Brandon O’Keiffe stole my heart.
A beautiful and raw love story that will challenge the way we think about life and death, fate and consequences.
The Beginning and End of Everything provocatively explores the human side of love, grief, and depression.
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There are some moments in life that threaten to rip away a person’s soul. Moments where, even years later, the magnitude of the grief is still palpable, and as I wipe my living room window clean, one of those moments is looming.
The very second the black Mercedes pulls into our drive, I know. My heart goes into a pleading gallop, and I brace myself on the wooden frame, praying they have the wrong house.
As the car door swings open, an army officer climbs out. He adjusts the sleeve of his uniform as he stares at my front door. The worried look etched into his features foreshadowed the news he’ll soon be sharing.
Closing my eyes, I place a palm to my mouth to cover the sob, and I try to breathe, praying he’s come with news other than I’m now a widow. In. Out. But my chest goes tight, robbing my lungs of air when the chimes echo like church bells off the walls of my home, yet now it feels more like a tomb.
I don’t recall moving from the window or turning the latch or even inviting the officer inside. He takes a rigid seat on the edge of the sofa, his spine straight as an arrow and stiff as a board. The host in me offers to put on tea, foolishly clinging to hope that this visit is cordial—that my heart is wrong.
The officer clears his throat and croaks my married name when I’m halfway to the kitchen. The slow turn I make doesn’t stop the hands of time. And when I face him, he stands, gripping his hat in front of him. “I’m sorry, ma’am.” My name is scribbled in messy handwriting across the front of the envelope he hands me—a grave letter. The man forces himself to make eye contact to convey his painful message. “Your husband was a good soldier. He served his country well.”
With a solemn expression, he places a gentle hand to my arm. That touch makes it all too real.
I’ve lost him.
And that was the beginning and end of everything.
The Past. The Beginning
My mother passed away when I was nine. An age where I would always remember her, but where time would steal away most of the memories, no matter how hard I clung to them. At that point, I understood that death was final, and losing my mother took a chunk of my heart that I believed no one else would ever fill.
That October marked a year since her passing and exactly one month since my father had moved us from America to Ireland for a job that would help cover the debt he owed the hospitals.
He promised I’d make friends, that I would love Ireland just as much as I had loved Georgia, but over the last few weeks, I’d been laughed at more than spoken to. In fact, the only kid in the class who’d even said so much as hello to me was Connor Blaine, the chubby, blond-headed boy who sat beside me. He got picked on for being overweight just as much as I did for talking funny. Connor’s best friend, Brandon—at the very least—didn’t make fun of me, even if it was painfully obvious that he didn’t really like me.
Miss Brown finished our cursive lesson then turned from the chalkboard, dusting her hands before taking heavy strides toward the corner where Brandon stood with his nose to the wall. In the few weeks I’d been there, he’d spent more time in the corner than he had at his seat.
Exhaling, she took him by the shoulders, spun him around, and crouched eye level with him before pointing a stern finger in his face. “Next time you throw a toad at a girl, it’s to the head master’s office with ya.”
“Yes, Miss.” Brandon straightened his back and gave a single curt nod like he meant to behave from then on. Even I knew that was far from the truth. A subtle smirk curled one corner of his lips before he sank into the seat on the other side of Connor.
The day crept along, and when Miss Brown called on people to read James and the Giant Peach, I slouched in my chair, not wanting her to choose me. Two paragraphs in, she called my name with a sweet grin. I took a deep breath, placed both elbows onto the table, pushing myself up to hunch over my book, hoping my hair would hide my face from the rest of the class while I read.
Davie Logan snickered. Miss Brown clapped her hands, and I kept reading until my turn was over. Then the next child stuttered through the first few lines.
Brandon leaned in front of Connor, eyes narrowed. “Why do you talk so funny?” he whispered.
I had already explained to Brandon that I wasn’t Irish, but for whatever reason, he thought being in Ireland meant I should talk in the same sing-song accent everyone else did.