Things in Erin’s Head 

“Kill Your Darlings,” is a phrase I learned the hard way as an author. It’s exactly as painful as it sounds. As an author, you create with your heart and soul. Your own laughter and tears are injected in the spaces between the words. Sometimes, as much as we love a piece of our writing, it just doesn’t quite fit… it sticks up like a stray hair on top of your head and no matter how many times you lick your palm to slick it down, it pops right back up. More of a distraction than an enhancement. Pulling this story from your book is agonizing. It draws out a fear that this beautiful thing you created will never touch another soul. It makes me wonder if some authors produce books of short stories simply to breathe life back into their Darlings.

Tonight I’m sharing one of my Darlings with you. A beautiful, short story that holds so much love.

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Because it’s all about love…

***
Genevieve’s Gift

Genevieve was sipping a frosty cocktail at a local, family owned restaurant. It was a lively Friday night, the restaurant was filling after happy hour. Laughter and clinking glasses echoed between the tables. The air was filled with the smell of cheeses melting in dips, fresh crusty bread on the tables, and… butter. She was chatting with her husband about whether or not the children were ready for sleep away camp this summer. Her stomach growled in envy as a server delivered a sizzling basket of calamari to the couple sitting next to them. The tables were close enough that she could see the light, crispy batter, and she watched a drop of lemon leap to her table as the couple doused their seafood. “Five more minutes,” she whispered internally, sipping her icy ‘tini. During a pause in their conversation, Genevieve allowed her eye to drift across to the hostess stand. She did a brief double take and smiled. “Oh, honey, look, it’s Rose! I haven’t seen her in ages. Remember, we used to work together? You’ve met her. I’m going to go say a quick hi.”  As she started to rise, the server appeared and slid a sizzling plate of grilled salmon and garlic laced spinach in front of her. With a glance toward Rose’s booth, she settled back into her seat, her stomach winning the battle over food vs socialization. At the end of their meal, with a deep breath of satiation, Genevieve strolled over to Rose’s booth. Rose let out a half squeal, her mouth wrapped around a fork spiraled in her last bite of linguine. In one motion she swallowed, wiped her mouth, and rose to hug her dear acquaintance. As the plates were cleared and coffee served, the husbands chose to head to the bar. Genevieve saw a glimpse of something cross Rose’s husband’s eye as they left the table. She couldn’t quite place it. It was almost a sadness, but was quickly followed by a thin smile and a squeeze to Rose’s shoulder, “No rush, Honey.”

The ladies began to reminisce and fell into old tales of bosses and the abhorrent receptionist who never learned how to properly transfer a call. Nearly an hour had passed and Rose searched the bar until she made eye contact with her beloved. He winked in her direction and turned back to his companion. Tears wet her lashes and Rose began in the middle of her story, “I know there’s little we can do. I’m on the transplant list, but it will be years before I reach the top. I just don’t have that much time left. It breaks my heart to watch Dave. He’s sent the message out to everyone he can think of. He’s desperate to find me a kidney. But I just don’t think it will happen.” Rose shook her head and her shoulders fell. She looked down at her napkin and realized it was twisted and knotted with the angst of sharing the tale of her illness. She hadn’t planned on sharing this part of herself, her journey, but it just came out. She flattened the napkin in her lap as Genevieve spoke.
 
“I’ll give you a kidney.”

The restaurant seemed to fall silent. Rose could no longer hear the scraping of knives on plates or the calls of the kitchen. She laughed uncomfortably, yet she still searched Genevieve’s eyes for a glimmer of truth. No, no, she must have misunderstood. She and Genevieve were good work acquaintances, but they were acquaintances, and hadn’t seen each other in years. But Genevieve held her gaze with compassion and strength. 
 
“I’m serious. Where do I go to be tested? To see if I’m a match?”
 
On the way home, giddy with hope, Genevieve told her husband what she had offered. But her husband was shocked, “You did what?”  His voice was filled with disbelief and trepidation, “You offered someone one of your ORGANS? I canNOT believe this. You have to tell her no. NO! Tell her you made a mistake. What if one of the boys needs a kidney? What if the surgery goes bad? What if you need BOTH of your own kidneys?!?”

The objections poured out. What if… what if… what if…
 
Genevieve listened to each one of her husband’s concerns and protest in silence. As they pulled in the driveway and he threw the gearshift into park, she reached over the center console and gingerly placed her hand on her husband’s knee, “But what if I can save her life?” 

Genevieve did not retract her offer.

She was a perfect match for Rose.

Genevieve’s kidney was successfully transplanted into Rose in 2019.

And the kidney was named Sasha.

***

Because it’s all about love…

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