In an act of heroism, Miguel takes a bullet meant for his wife. What happens next?
| “I’m only brave when I have to be…” With a gasp, Miguel sank to his knees. Clutching his side, he groaned. Blood bubbled beneath his fingers. “Ah.”
“Here, let me help.” Cecile knelt beside him as she ripped a sleeve from her dress. “Press this against it.” Her eyes touched his brown, gold-flecked ones. Fingers covered his as together, they restrained the coursing flow. “You pushed me out of the way…”
“You would have been shot!”
“I know.” Tears welled. One slid down her cheek. “This isn’t any better.”
Reaching up, Miguel brushed her tear away with a thumb. “It is for me. You’re safe.” He caressed her cheek. “I love you, Cecile.”
“I love you too.” Her sea blue eyes traveled over his body. “We need to get you help.” In one fluid movement, she reached into her purse, retrieving her cell. Punching in the emergency code, she cradled it against her ear.
“Nine-one-one, what’s the address of your emergency?”
“Help, please, my husband’s been shot!”
“All right, Ma’am. I need the address.”
“We’re in Tompkins Park on Lafayette Avenue. Hurry, please!”
“Okay, we’re on our way. By the way, what’s your name?”
“What’s your surname?”
“Cecile, can you give me your phone number?”
“Sure. It’s 718-554-2110. Please, hurry!”
“Alright. Stay calm. Paramedics are on the way.”
Speedily, Cecile ended the call, shoving the phone back into her purse. Without ado, she gathered her husband into her arms. He leaned his head against her breast. As she stroked his soft, black hair, she swallowed a lump in her throat. “Hold on, Miguel. Help’s coming! Don't give up!”
Coughing, he shifted in her embrace. “If I don’t make it, remember that I’ll always love you.” His vision clouded. Tears slipped down his cheeks. Pain jarred him. With a guttural moan, he sucked in a breath.
“Don’t talk like that, Miguel. You’re going to survive!” Grip tightening, she shuddered involuntarily. “That bullet was meant for me. It should be me lying here!”
“Shh, Beloved.” With tenderness, he lifted his free hand and touched his finger to her lips. “I couldn’t let you die. Now, you have another chance at life.” He blinked back the rising tide and offered a tentative smile. Her tears streamed down her face, dampening his finger. Removing his finger, he caressed her cheek.
Heart twisting within, she leaned over him, brushing her lips against his forehead. As she drew back, she whispered, “Stay with me, please!”
Breaths shallow, blood soaking the cloth, he looked deep into her sea blue eyes. With purpose, he fingered a caramel curl of her tresses. Rubbing it between his fingers, he whispered, “You will always be my Beloved.” In silence, he released her hair.
A siren blared in the distance infusing hope into her heart. “Miguel, hold on, they’re almost here!”
Eyes glassy, his hand fluttered. “I’m sorry that I can’t stay…” Voice trailing off, he released a breath. As his hand began to lower, Cecile seized it.
“No!” Grip tightening, lips pursed, she stared into his eyes. “Don’t…”
Hold slackening, his eyelids slid shut. A breath escaped his lips. Face serene, a smile touched his lips.
“Miguel!” Drawing his lifeless hand to her lips, she pressed her lips to the back of his hand. Tears splashed onto his hand as she shut her eyes. “Why,” she shrieked, “why?” With a groan, she opened her eyes. Cecile stared into the eggshell blue sky. Thunder growled in the distance. Lightning flashed. A single raindrop dripped down, dampening their joined hands. As the rain pattered down, mingling with blood, she knelt on the pavement, embracing her husband’s body.
The ambulance pulled up, shut off the siren as paramedics clambered out. “Ma’am, you need to stand back,” uttered a tall, lanky medic.
With a shake of her head, Cecile released Miguel’s hand and placed it on his abdomen. Almost robotically, she rose to her feet. Her eyes followed her husband’s body as the men loaded it on a gurney. Gleaming in a ray of sunlight, his wedding band caught her eye. Spattered with blood, it reminded her of the ultimate sacrifice he’d made.
Rushing over to the gurney, she caught hold of his hand one more time. She squeezed his fingers with hers, whispering, “Miguel, I love you.” With an intake of breath, she bent over him. Heart laced with agony, she groaned. A tear trickled down her cheek. Her grip on his hand tightened. Knuckles white, eyelids swollen, she managed, “I don’t deserve you, Love.”
At that moment, a familiar voice echoed in her psyche. Don’t ever forget my sacrifice.
Her chin rose. “Miguel,” she breathed.
Live, love and never give up. I love you.
She released a breath. The rain ceased and a soft breeze caressed her cheek. For a moment, a gentle pressure rested on her shoulder.
You will see me again.
Through the veil of tears, her lips curved upward. With a slight nod, she freed his hand. Blood stained her fingers, one last reminder of his unselfish bravery.