He Didn’t, But You Do, a short story by Andrea Dugger

The night was still young. The stars were dotting the sky as if an artist had taken a paintbrush and flicked it, allowing the droplets to land where they pleased. We were laying out in the back of your truck, staring up at the sky. I didn’t count the pillows we had, but there would have been at least twenty if I did.  “That one there,” I spoke, pointing up to a constellation, “is the constellation of Aquarius.” You agreed with me and took me by surprise. “That one is the Leo constellation, the one you were born under.” You pointed up at the constellation, grinning like a little kid who had just hit the jackpot. The light from the stars was reflecting in your eyes, turning the once deep green orbs into a glowing yellow. I wanted to take a picture of the scene before me but there was no use. A picture would never live up to the reality of the moment. I was just shocked at the fact that you actually knew my birthday. It was something simple to remember but it meant the world to me. He didn’t take the time to remember my birthday and he didn’t have any interest in Astronomy, but you do. 

The day my grandmother passed away; you were there. You held me as I cried. The glue that held the family together had finally passed on and there was nothing left to hold the rest of my family back any longer. We had known that her days were numbered. “Cancer,” the doctor told my family. “She has stage four lung cancer.” I vividly remembered clutching onto her hand and begging for it to be a prank. It was not. While my aunts rummaged through the cabinets and my cousins ransacked the basement, you wiped my tears away and asked me to go to the movies with you. Of all things that we could do together, you asked me to watch a movie. To be fair, I do like watching movies. You said there was a new movie that had just come out and you really wanted to see it. I agreed with you even though it was a movie I had seen several times before. Harry Potter. You were trying to make my day better, even if it was by doing something as simple as watching a movie. As we sat together in the chilly movie theater, the voices of Harry and Ron arguing reminding me of my own family, I noticed you looking at me. “What?” I asked, giving you a wary glance. You gave me a grin, shook your head, and turned back towards the movie. Your hand made its way into my own as the movie continued on. Despite the death of my grandmother, I was having a really good day. He didn’t try to do things that would make me happy, but you do. 

Thirteen hours, six bags of Chex Mix, and seven stops later we finally arrived at our destination. I had been wanting to leave our little town in West Virginia for quite some time. You said that you could use a good break too so now here we are. Just the two of us in Florida with the rest of our lives ahead of us. The ocean was just as beautiful as it was the first time that I saw it. Looking out across the crystal-clear water, I spotted two dolphins. They would take turns jumping up in the air, sending water flying this way and that way. The two dolphins reminded me of us. They didn’t have a care in the world, much like us, and they were spending their day together under the warm sun. I wish that we could always stay under the warm sun together for the rest of our lives. The peaceful moment was somewhat ruined when you threw a skip ball at the back of my head, knocking my hat off my head. I didn’t get mad, not at all. I turned around and laughed at you. “Good aim!” I said and pulled you into a hug, forgetting all about my hat. The rest of the evening, we played out in the water until the sun went down. He didn’t like to have fun, but you do. 

The first time you said that you loved me, it was my nineteenth birthday. We were at your parents’ house, sitting in the kitchen. “I love you.” You whispered as your mother was getting the cake out of the fridge. Vanilla cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Simple, but my favorite type of cake. “I love you too,” I whispered back, quite unsure of what I was saying. I knew that I loved you, but I had never told anyone that I loved them. Maybe my grandma once or twice, but I never meant it like this. I blew out the red and pink candles on my cake and made a wish. I wished that you would always be by my side. You asked me what my wish was but I refused to tell you. A wish can’t come true if you say it out loud. When it came time for presents, you said you would save yours for last. I got a pink cardigan and a gift card to my favorite restaurant from your parents. Your sister got me 2 CDs and a necklace with my birthstone on it. Your gift was in a small silver box, tied with a red ribbon. A necklace? Some chocolates? “Go on, open it,” You spoke, a tinge of nervousness evident in your voice. I opened it. There was nothing in it. I turned around to question you but you were down on the ground, on one knee. He didn’t have the courage to ask me to marry him, but you do. And, I said yes. 

It was a chilly Tuesday night in September. We were walking down the alley in the local city. There were a lot of people out, surprisingly, so we walked behind the shops. Your hand was in mine, and it fit perfectly. Ever since we got engaged, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. The dim light from the streetlamp was flickering and it eventually went out completely, leaving us in the dark. It reminded me of my grandmother. How she fought to stay alive. How her light eventually went out. You stopped walking and turned to me, a smile lighting up your face. “Do you want to go home?” You questioned, pulling me closer to you. I shook my head and we continued walking. I suddenly got a really bad feeling deep down in my stomach. Before I could speak, I heard footsteps behind us. And they were moving quickly. I turned around and came face-to-face with him. No. I had to get out. I couldn’t stand being around him. “Come on let’s go,” I said and grabbed your arm tightly, pulling you up ahead the path. “Get away from him!” He yelled and yanked the back of my shirt, making me stumble into his arms. “Let’s get away from here.” He said and pulled me backward, away from you. I struggled to get free for a few seconds before his arms were no longer around me. He was laying on the ground, blood staining his shirt and the ground around him. Red will never be my favorite color again.  No, you didn’t. Oh God. I let out a scream in horror and quickly, people came running towards us. You glanced at me in fear, and I started running. I didn’t know where I was going but I had to get away. He didn’t have to spend the rest of his life in prison for murder, but you do. 

Andrea Dugger is technically a freshman at the University of the Cumberlands but she is on track to graduate a little earlier than expected. She is currently majoring in both Criminal Justice and Psychology with plans to graduate from the Cumberlands and work towards getting a master’s degree in counseling psychology. When she is not spending her time doing homework, she is listening to music, reading, or hanging out with her family.