A story about two soul mates who are completely and irrevocably devoted to each other.
| Julie’s Will
I remember the day we entered the city limits. Not a lot of towns in 1917 were that populated, or productive, as Father would note. But I wasn’t expecting to see much of this town, just like every town our circus had traveled to in my 17 years of life. I was in my secret place five minutes after crossing the city line. My father had big plans for the circus here. I, on the other hand, didn’t care. It was just another town further away from where Mamma was buried. It wasn’t until the night of the pilot performance my view on the otherwise bland town, and life itself, changed.
From my view in the alley, I spied long before I heard, a dark figure loping towards me. Worn shoes plodded down the sodden brick street. Head down, I could only see long, waterlogged hair dripping onto the collar of his coat. He had a cap but didn’t bother to put it on. It too was tatterdemalion as was the rest of his attire. At the moment I registered all of this, I stumbled. His appearance, although startled, rendered my body useless. Time was frozen; I could not think, I could not breathe, I could not move. The city street disappeared from around me and all I could see was him.
The next thing I knew I was sprawled on the damp cobblestone alley. I must be dead, I thought, because I was looking into the face of an angel. Creamy alabaster skin was tight against his chiseled bones. The full rosy lips looked out of place on this sculpture. Dark circles surrounded his intense eyes. They seemed to be able to see all the way into my soul. If this was heaven, then they probably could. His elegant forehead was creased with worry. Over me? I wanted to smack him, I was in no pain! In fact, I was quite elated to be viewing such a masterpiece. The strawberry lips parted with a smile like the sun and a credulous chuckle was heard. “Miss, I must say, that was quite a stumble!” Then everything went black.
The busier my father became with his troupe, the more chances I had to venture out unnoticed. I was always paranoid that I was going to be caught sneaking away because going against my father’s law was not something I had attempted before. Ah, the things people will do for love. Ever since that lovely angel rescued me in the alley, we became rather good friends. I could empathize with him for I had lost my mother and so had he. His father had never been much of a father, and I found myself agreeing readily. Who was the credulous one now? But we had to make a noticeable effort to make our relationship continue at a moderately slow pace. If I learned one thing from my father, it was to take time and care of the things that truly mattered to you. But this angel’s time was running out.
The first time he kissed me, my whole world set on fire. Everything was in focus and I knew from that moment on we would be bound in one way or another as one. It seemed as if I could actually sense the intensity of the feelings between us. His usually chilled hand felt like a flame where it rested upon my face. It was like we were in the core of a fire, unharmed but aware of the blaze.
I had never felt feelings that strong. At that point in my life I had never dealt with so many emotions at such intensity. I had no idea as to how to react to them. My plan was to never let him go, but of course, that was inevitable. Never had I felt so invincible or so in love! The rush of yearning for him at that moment, desiring it to last forever, and pure happiness were so overwhelming I found I was only supported by him. I don’t remember that kiss ending, but I recall his whisper in my ear. “I love you,” was all he said, and that summed it up just fine.
It was hard sneaking out all of the time to visit my love. With my father’s “employees” everywhere, I had to be excruciatingly careful. That city made me do things I never would have done before. You do not cross an alcoholic circus master like my father, no! But I would have walked through a Mexican firing squad just to see my one true amour. That Sunday afternoon, I made sure I was there for him. I was perched beside him on a rusty metal chair, his clammy hand in mine. The doctor shuffled into view, a grimace on his face. He was weathered and aged beyond his years. His deep set eyes were sensitive and full of regret for what he was about to do. He looked as if bad news was no stranger, but it was not remotely close to being a welcomed guest. The doctor cleared his throat and began.
The verdict was simple; my other half was dying after only eighteen years on earth. There was no way to tell how long he had left. Weeks, if we were lucky. After answering our questions, which were neither in depth or morbid, the doctor escorted us to the exit. We walked silently for a few blocks without a destination. When I finally looked to see where we were, I found us to be directly in front of a picture studio. I brightened slightly at the idea. The circus was leaving soon and my love possibly even sooner. Those two short weeks impacted who I would become. Maybe I let my feelings run away with me. Although every bit of him was engraved in my mind, I wanted to have a physical image to hold against my heart in times of need. So why not get our photographs taken? With a deadened spirit, he agreed on one condition: that he would get a photograph of me in return. We both trudged inside the building like the chilled air was molasses. As soon as the door opened, the pungent odor of picture producing chemicals infiltrated my nose. That was the kind of never-forget-me odor that clung to your clothing and stung your eyes like little hornets. Yet the photographer greeted us with a smile and was bustling with energy. His disposition, compared to the recent news, had me in another world, but I tried to look happy. A moment before my photo was snapped my love looked at me with a silly grin. For that moment which was captured on film, I looked truly happy, because I was.
My love, in turn, took his photo with his natural grace and charm. In it, he looked intelligent and kind with his usual pondering expression behind his eyes. After the photographs were printed and dry, the photo-taker presented them to us along with two ink pens in case we wanted to sign them. My love turned his gaze on me and asked, “May I have the honor of knowing your Christian name in exchange for mine?” His eyes filled with curiosity as he patiently awaited my answer, pen poised to write.
“Julie,” I replied and felt myself blush.
“My name is William, Julie, but you may call me Will.”
On the walk back from the studio, Will took a turn for the worst. Luck was on our side as we realized we were closer to the hospital than thought. A different doctor than before met us at the entrance and quickly directed us to a bed near a window. As the doctor shoved open the window, a brisk evening breeze rustled the sterilized room. Night was approaching and so was the end. I had traveled to many places but I never felt an attachment anywhere except back home in Kentucky. From then on, a part of me would be in Chicago forever. As I listened, Will’s breathing became shallower. All the while the crickets were singing a mourning tune. After what seemed like hours, Will’s raspy voice spoke, “Lay with me Julie.” Gently, I settled myself onto the bed and cradled his head in my lap. He murmured contentedly and a small smile graced his lips. Then without warning, his lids flew open and his emerald eyes met mine. In that instant, I knew that he was my life, my soul, and my Will. The smile grew more defined on his ashen face. I had to blink furiously to keep the image of him clear. Then he drew one last ragged breath. Will’s frail chest came to a halt as his life floated out into the night. My life, my soul, and my Will were now one with the stars.