by Sydney Song
Helen lost her son and husband in a boating accident; her other child Denise is growing up as well as out of their home. Taking the advice of a girlfriend, Helen reunites with her first boyfriend; Rich is waning rock star. She learns he acquired HIV; Helen must decide whether or not his disease will destroy their chances at love.
Excerpt- Rich is telling the love of his life that he may be HIV positive.
“… I hoped if we came here to talk it over without the flash of paparazzi and glare of my stardom, maybe, we could work something out.”
“Work what out? What do you want from me? Certainly not a lasting relationship!”
“That’s exactly what I want from you!” He stammered. “I want a lasting relationship. I want a deeper commitment. I want you there for me!”
“What about you being there for me!” I slammed his ego. Before my candor continued, my outlandish responses startled me because my hidden thoughts chastised me. My tart remarks not only hurt someone I loved but they hurt my longtime friend, Rich. …
Rich jarred me out of my lingering grief, “I want to be with you in every way possible!” He almost whimpered, “When I informed my parents of the possibility that I am HIV positive, dad told me to enjoy Hell. Mom sobbed adding that there home was off limits because she fears touching me would pass the disease.” Richard paused, sighed, and looked for some compassion in my eyes as he added, “My sister informed me that her husband and children couldn’t risk contact either. Her younger children might kiss me and pick up my sexually transmitted disease.”
His family had other misconceptions and misinformation about this disease as well. The saddest thing came from their emotions labeled as their religious beliefs. His parents rejected Rich while calling themselves Christian. They forgot Jesus’ command, “Hate the sin while loving the sinner.” Even though I wasn’t willing to admit it yet, Richard deserved common decency and respect even if he wasn’t a hero.
Displaying my knowledge more than empathy, my interruption stopped his pity party, “You don’t get HIV from human contact except the sexual kind. Unless you swallow a barrel of spit or have an open sore in your mouth- hugging and kissing can occur when a person has the plague!”
“People’s fear stalls them keeping them from finding out these things. I certainly don’t plan on sexual contact with my blood relatives.”
“I hope not!” My nervous laughter broke the tension. After that statement, my eye brow went up showing my concern. If Rich had HIV or AIDS, even if he is disease free, that man needed to stop having sex period. Hadn’t he learned his lesson?
He looked to me for an ounce of sympathy, “I have no one left to turn to for help; my life is empty.”
“How unfair!” My tone indicated that my outburst really meant that Rich remained a bit self-centered especially in our relationship. Due to his selfish attitude, evident in his whining tone, my question flew from my heart’s pain, “Are you looking for a nursemaid as you die? You can pay for that service!” My tart voice hit him deeply as he looked away in grief.
After a very long bout of silence, he answered, “No, I prefer you to be my best friend while I live.”
Calming down because his eyes reveal that all he really wanted was my platonic companionship, I put my forehead on a hand and sighed. Then, the only thing my soul heard was the crashing of waves. I’m not referring to an old-fashioned literary mechanism to indicate the couple had sex; we didn’t; we wouldn’t. If this man carried that deadly venereal disease- that was NEVER going to happen!
My mind screamed, ‘Leave him!’ My spirit shouted, ‘Comfort this lost soul! Be his friend!’ My heart screeched, ‘You’re killing me!’ Surprisingly, my mouth calmly said, “I need time to digest this news.”
“Take all the time you need,” He added. “I hope you give me a chance. I can give you anything your heart desires including my undying love and gratitude.”
“But if we ever consummate our love, you might give me HIV and future AIDS!” I jabbed him, again. In my mind, he deserved it.
“So, you’re calling what we share love?”
Shaking my head and staring into his soul, confusion reigned. “Not sure what I am calling this whole ordeal or my feelings.” Standing, walking towards the bay, and then seating myself on the shoreline; my mind awaited the alarm clock to sound awakening me from this current nightmare. Then, the tears flowed. Being so out of myself and beside myself in grief, at first, I imagined rain drops appeared in my hands. Then my confused psyche believed the breakers kicked up the salt waters but I knew the real source was my breaking heart. …
Story behind this novel:
As my children grew up under the guidance of my prudishness, they knew my opinion about virginity. “It will be Hell on earth if you contract an incurable STD!” They commonly heard from puberty on. Meanwhile, my four year degree and a temporary teaching certificate helped me gain the position of reading teacher for high school-aged, ‘AT RISK’ students. Too many of these kids were young mothers and fathers; some of my male students populated this earth with multiple partners in the same school year. As some girls mistakenly fought to win back their man from his other companion, I’d wonder aloud about the babies but mostly about the diseases being spread on campus. In those same years, my daughters went on mission trips during their summers to help in Malawi with the growing number of orphans being caused by the AIDS pandemic. When they returned, I asked why the epidemic is so wide spread. They explained that country’s lack of education and cultural taboos about discussing sex allowed for the disease to escalate to almost uncontrollable proportions.
Hashing out this inspiration in my mind for four years, trying to discuss this topic without preaching, I did not want to write a textbook. Instead, I composed The Choice; this true love story unfolds revealing the power of decisions. The novel examines and explores the following statements and questions after the excerpt provided.
What if you fooled around then fell in love but had already contracted HIV or AIDS from a previous sexual encounter? Knowingly having relations with the uninfected partner will result in giving them HIV one hundred percent of the time if the sex is unprotected and twenty percent of the time with a condom! HIV causes AIDS, which results in death. SO- how would you suffer your unrequited love? Or, would you take the chance of killing your best friend and best partner otherwise known as the love of your life? Could you sacrifice your needs and desires for the one you profess to love? BECAUSE- abstinence is the only one hundred percent effective tool in the fight against STDs.
Links to the Author
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