"Do You Still Love Me?"

Fiction By Damaris Ann // 5/4/2016

***I ADDED A TON TO THIS. IT'S ABOUT TWICE AS LONG AS IT WAS BEFORE. PLEASE CRITIQUE***

"Hello."

"Oh. Hi. You look familiar...have we met before?"

"I don't think so. I've seen you around at this conference before. At least I'm pretty sure I have."

She tilted her head to one side.

"Ohhh that must be it. I've been here every year since they started this conference back in 2012."

"Cool! So have I. My name is Mark. Mark Barton."

He shook her hand.

"Melissa Grey. Nice to meet you!"

Smiles.

"Do you live near here? I live about three hours from here in a little community called Lake Victor."

"I live here in Kerrville."

"It's a pretty place."

***

"It's you again!"

"Hello Mark. What kind of greeting is that?"

He grinned.

"You're here every year."

"Hmm. Well so are you."

Laughter.

"True, very true. How do you like the theme for this year's conference?"

"It's good. Very good. Mr. Swanson positively broke my toes with his analogies this morning. Laziness is the monster in my closet."

Mark looked at the carpet.

"Mine too."

Quietly.

"I need to work harder. Here's a quote that I find relevant. I don't remember who said it but it fits any sin-struggle. 'Be killing sin or it be killing you.'"

He looked up.

"Thank you for that. It makes sense. I needed that motivation."

"I'm glad I could encourage you."

***

The phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Hi. Is Mr. Grey available?"

"Yes, just a moment.

"Daddy, someone is on the phone for you."

Thank you, Mel.

"Hello?"

"Hello Mr. Grey. I would like to meet you for lunch this weekend to talk to you about your daughter, Melissa."

***

They shook hands.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Sir."

"You're welcome Mark. Melissa has told me quite a bit about you. It seems that y'all have had quite a few conversations together."

"We have. I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all. It was refreshing to me to hear about y'all's conversation topics. Melissa tells me that you hold to reformed theology, is that correct?"

"Yes sir. I go to a small church and hold to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith."

"Wonderful! Credo or Paedo?"

"Credo. Very firmly."

"A have a lot of things to discuss with you before I talk to Melissa."

"That is what I expected. I hope I can give satisfactory answers."

"Me too, Mark. Me too."

***

"Hello Mark. It's so good to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Mel."

Mischievous grins.

"What's the count at now?"

Laughter.

"Two-hundred and thirty-seven emails."

"Wooooow. How many phone calls?"

"Twenty-three. It's been a long year."

"Hopefully I can make it shorter for you. Are you ready to go on a walk to the park Mel?"

"Yes I am. Are our parents already outside?"

"Yes. They're waiting under the pavilion."

***

He got down on one knee. She gasped.

"Mel, will you be my wife?"

"Yes!"

"I love you."

"I love you too."

Happy smiles.

***

They exchanged rings.

"You may kiss the bride."

They shared their first kiss.

"Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Mark Barton!!"

The bride and groom exchanged happy smiles.

"I love you Darling."

"I love you too, Dearest."

Everyone rejoiced.

***

"Do you love me?"

"Why do you ask?"

He tickled her.

"Stop it. You're silly. Do you?"

"Of course. You know I do."

"I just like to make sure you still do."

"Why would I ever stop?"

She chewed on the inside of her lip before responding.

"What if...I become ugly or sick?"

"I didn't marry you for your good looks, dearest, and I didn't marry you for your health. I married you for your heart and soul."

"What if we can't have children?"

"I didn't marry you for children, either. I married you because you've got God as your King. Good enough?"

"Yes."

Melissa sighed a happy sigh and leaned her head on Mark's shoulder.

"I'm so glad. Sometimes I worry-"

"That's silly. You shouldn't worry. We know Who holds tomorrow."

"This is true. I wish I could remember that as easily as you seem to. Sometimes I feel so, I don't know, bogged down in my spirit."

"You have to trust Him, Mel. You have to trust me, too."

The look of almost sorrowful gravity in Mark's eyes pained her. She burrowed her face in his neck as she whispered to him.

"Dear heart, I do."

He kissed her forehead. All was well.

***

Happy squeals.

"Mark!! Mark! Ohhhh Mark!"

Mark dashed through the hall.

"Mel! Are you-are we?!"

"YES!! You're gonna be a daddy! Oh, Mark!"

He danced her down the hall.

***

"I think blue, Mark."

Laughter.

"I think pink."

"We'll have to get some of each. Oh Mark, just look at this! Isn't it the sweetest? I want one."

Puppy eyes.

"Do we need one? It's a bit pricey."

"Well...no, we don't really. But I do love the way this bassinet looks much better than the little crib we looked at."

Mark kissed her cheek.

"Let's get it."

Smiles.

***

"Mark."

Silence.

"Mark!!"

Quiet stirring.

"What is it, Mel?"

"This doesn't feel right."

Mark snapped to attention.

"What? What doesn't feel right?"

Moans.

"This. This pain. This isn't what Braxton Hicks are supposed to feel like. It hurts more....I think I'm bleeding, Mark!"

Mark leapt out of bed and rushed into his clothes.

He pulled the car around and ran back inside for Melissa. By now she was moaning almost constantly, in too much pain to move.

He carried her. He carried her to the car, and in the hospital he never left her side.

***

She blinked at the bright lights.

"Mark?"

Softly.

"Yes, darling?"

"Is, did the..."

Whispers.

"Yes, darling."

Quiet tears slipped through closed and weary eyelids.

"Mark?"

"Yes?"

Quietly.

"Do you still love me?"

"Darling, I will always love you. Trust Him. Trust me."

Quiet, breathless sobs could not be held back. And then,

"Dear heart, I do."

***

"Mark?"

"Yes Love?"

"I feel queasy."

"Are you sick?"

"I don't think I'm that kind of sick. Mark...it's been five months since, since...Mark, I think I need to take a pregnancy test. I skipped my cycle last month."

Mark dropped his book on the coffee table and sat up the rest of the way.

"Do you want me to run to the store and pick a few tests up?"

She nodded.

He held her close and whispered a prayer into her hair.

"Don't forget, I love you."

"I trust you, Love. I love you too."

***

He found her sitting on bathroom counter. She was crying over three positive tests.

"Mel?"

"Oh Love! Oh Love!"

He held her again.

"God is good."

"He is indeed."

***

He kissed the baby. He kissed her.

She looked up with a twinkle in her tired eyes.

"Mark, do you still love me?"

"Of course I do."

"I trust you, Love. I trust God, too."

Quietly.

"God bless you, Dear."

Happy smiles.

Comments

Your conversation style is

Your conversation style is GREAT, and I love how you put single words in places, like "smiles". I only suggest readjusting this part, perhaps like this:

'Mark looked at the carpet.

"Mine too." Quietly. "I need to work harder. Here's a quote that I find relevant. I don't remember who said it but it fits any sin-struggle. 'Be killing sin or it be killing you.'" He looked up.'

Otherwise I kept it extremely easily in my mind who was talking. Want you to know it takes some skill to be able to do that, if you want to drop "he said", "she said". And I like that you did that for this story.... it really works.

Wedding scene -- you sounded like you got bored with writing that scene, so it comes across lackluster. Maybe a couple other juicy details just to paint a picture in our minds?

Missed quotations with the telephone scene...

"Whispered a prayer in her hair" SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

"Happy smiles" at the end was a TINY bit jarring to me... maybe consider stopping the story at "God bless you, Dear"?

This is GREAT, and I honestly think you could enter it into a Christian short story contest.

:)

Sarah Bethany | Wed, 05/04/2016

....And I hope you didn't

....And I hope you didn't mind any of that. I only critiqued because your writing style is getting so GOOD, and only a few things popped out at me at an otherwise very polished piece. :)

Sarah Bethany | Wed, 05/04/2016

AAAAHHHHH

So I absolutely adore your comments. That's exactly the kind of comment that I love getting. Thank you so so so much!!! I love your critiques and encouragements. :)
I believe I was about to doze off when I was writing the wedding scene. I've been on the road for the last three days so yeah. I'm planning on pulling this story up every week or every other week and adding to it. So thank you again!

Damaris Ann | Wed, 05/04/2016

"It is the small temptations which undermine integrity unless we watch and pray and never think them too trivial to be resisted."
-Luisa May Alcott

You're welcome! And I was

You're welcome! And I was actually lying in bed and I thought about the wedding scene again (haha) and I had to get up because it just occurred to me that I think the potency and main characteristic of this piece IS its lack of concrete detail and its heavy reliance on dialogue: you leave the visuals up to the readers' imaginations, and that's actually really fun. So I retract my wedding comment and don't actually know what to advise, haha.

Sarah Bethany | Wed, 05/04/2016

Well I'll keep looking at it

Well I'll keep looking at it but would like to add at least some of the cows or the exchange of rings or something. Thanks again!!

Damaris Ann | Thu, 05/05/2016

"It is the small temptations which undermine integrity unless we watch and pray and never think them too trivial to be resisted."
-Luisa May Alcott

Wow!

Just got a chance to get on AP again, and I LOVE it! I don't know why I'm such a big fan of the single sentence paragraphs that you have. They just leave so much to the imagination without seeming like they're missing anything. Like Sarah Bethany, I think 'whispered a prayer into her hair' was my favorite part. It seemed so poetic in its own way :) Well done.

Brighid | Wed, 05/18/2016

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

Aww thank you so much!! I'm

Aww thank you so much!! I'm so glad you like it. :)

Damaris Ann | Wed, 05/18/2016

"It is the small temptations which undermine integrity unless we watch and pray and never think them too trivial to be resisted."
-Luisa May Alcott

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