My Fighting Spirit

  • 09 Oct - 15 Oct, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Tony married Angela right after the two of them had graduated from college together. They had been dating since freshman year of high school. Tony considered Angela to be the woman of his dreams. Together they raised two beautiful children, Ryan and Katie, both now in their twenties. Two weeks before her 49th birthday, Angela was told by her doctor that she had stage four breast cancer. It was too far progressed, and unfortunately there was nothing that could be done for her. She was terminal. She passed away in the Fall of that year.

Ryan was married, and Katie was engaged to be wed the following Spring.

Tony had lost the woman of his dreams, and spent most evenings alone in the home they shared together. The home they raised their family in together. He would sit for hours staring out the window, or looking at pictures of his late wife. His favorite was taken on their tenth anniversary, eighteen years ago on a trip they made to Mexico. She was sitting across from him at a table in an outside cafe in Cozumel. She was smiling warmly at him, and her arm was lying on the table. In the photo was a birthmark she had just below her shoulder. It was shaped like a heart and slightly red. Tony always playfully kidded her about it. He thought it was cute, and called it his sweet heart. It always made her smile, just as it had done when he said it to her just before he snapped the photo on their tenth anniversary. Tony and the kids were Angela's only family. She spent most of her childhood in foster homes. The only thing she knew of her birth Mother was that she died in labor after having Angela, and another girl. Angela's sister was adopted when they were infants, but Angela wasn't as fortunate.

For Tony, the isolation grew, and the loneliness consumed him, until finally he couldn't bare it any longer. He knew that if he didn't get away, and make a clean start that the path he was on would not end well for him. In March of 2019 he sold the house he shared with Angela in New Jersey and moved to South Florida and accepted a job offer as an estimator with a large electrical contractor there.

Shortly after the move he started having a dream that would reoccur several times a week. The dream was so vivid.

In it he was attending a Van Morrison concert, and on the screen on the stage was a New Years countdown. When the countdown ended, cannons shot confetti into the crowd, and the screen lit up large letters saying “Happy New Year 2020”. At that moment in the dream, he looked over to see Angela standing beside him, smiling broadly and dancing to the music.

Van Morrison had been her favorite musical artist, and the two had attended numerous concerts together over the years of their marriage. At first, Tony dismissed the dream, but it kept reoccurring, always exactly the same thing. One day while having lunch in his office at work, Tony opened a newspaper to see the advertisement announcing that Van Morrison was playing at a venue an hour away on this upcoming New Years Eve. He smiled as he recalled the image of his late wife in the dream, so happy and vibrant. He set the paper down and didn't give it much more thought as he went back to work. That night he had the dream again. Only this time, in the dream, Angela pointed up at the screen on stage when it lit up the 2020 New Year greeting. Tony woke in a cold sweat. He got out of bed and sat at the table by the pool in the lanai. He opened his laptop and went online and bought a ticket for the New Years Eve concert.

In the months that followed, Tony never had the dream again. The week before Christmas, he received an email confirming his ticket reservation on New Year’s Eve. He had kind of forgotten about the concert after the dream stopped. He thought of Angela and smiled. He would attend the concert.

He arrived at the venue, a small theater in the downtown arts district of the city an hour south of Tony's home on New Year’s Eve. The tickets were all general admission and the man at door told Tony he could sit anywhere he wanted. Tony normally loved to sit in the balcony if available. He loved the view of the stage from above. When he looked up there, he saw a mostly younger, college aged crowd. They appeared to be a little raucous, and loud so he made his way down to the main floor area in front of the stage but back a few rows. About twenty-five minutes later, after the place started to fill up a woman saw the empty seat next to him and made her way down the crowded row stopping next to Tony. “Is this seat taken”, she asked?

Tony looked up as he started to answer, and stopped suddenly.

“Angela”, he asked startled and confused.

“Excuse me”, the woman said timidly.

“Oh, I'm sorry”, replied Tony.

“You look just like”, he paused. He was going to say, “Someone I love”, but instead continued, “Someone I know”.

He smiled at her and said, “No this seat is not taken. I'm Tony”, as he offered his hand to her in greeting. She shook his hand and introduced herself as well.

“I'm Nicole, nice to meet

you Tony”.

As she bent forward and stretched her arm out to shake his hand, her short shirt sleeve rode up on her arm an inch or two to reveal a small reddish heart shaped birthmark just below her shoulder. Tony was stunned. He was speechless for a moment.

Then he asked her, “Are you a big Van Morrison fan Nicole”. She smiled broadly and sat back against the back rest of the seat.

“OKAY, please don't think I'm crazy, I'm really not. It's kind of a long story but, I have been searching for more than three years for my sister. We were separated at birth when my Mom died in labor.

About six months ago I kept getting this dream that wouldn't go away. I can't explain how, but I know it's connected somehow to my search. In it, I was at a Van Morrison concert. I mean, I don't even like Van Morrison. So in this dream the screen on stage counts down to, Tonight.

New Years 2020. In the dream, when the countdown ends and the New Year strikes, I look over and see a woman standing next to me dancing to the music. And like, it's me. But it's not me. I know weird right? Well I don't know why, but I just had to come, and so here I am.”

She paused silently for a moment and then continued, “I told you it was going to sound crazy. Anyway, what’s your story”?

Tony just shook his head.

“I came for the woman in

the dream”.

Nicole looked at him, puzzled. She didn't say anything.

Tony smiled again.

“If you want to go somewhere quiet for coffee, I will tell you the entire story”.

They got up and walked out of the theater together.