Cleft Love – A Short Short Story

She was about to board the plane, close to tears and confused. He had brought her to the airport and the goodbye was not easy. They were only friends, but it felt like so much more. She knew what she felt for him but she also knew it would not be possible. He had only just lost his wife 10 months ago and was still grieving. Although there was some kind of chemistry between them, it could just not be. Probably she made it all up. But what if there was more? What if there was love? Would it be possible? She would never find out if she would set foot on the plane which was due to take her back to the other side of this planet.

Settle down, she thought, if it’s meant to be, it will be.  “Keep in touch,” she whispered as he gave her a quick hug.  It was the closest thing to a declaration of feelings for him that her courage could muster.

It was no wonder that he had worked his way into her heart – serving so closely together in an isolated village among such need, such hope, such joy.

Strangers when they arrived from different parts of the world, they had both come to repair cleft palates.  Two gifted oral surgeons.  Two compassionate hearts.  United in Nicaragua where nutritional deficiencies produce a high incidence of that particular birth defect.

A wealth of emotions swirled about them – the shocking first glimpse of profound poverty on that first day.  The hope in the eyes of the parents, lined up at the makeshift clinic with their children, that elicited a humble realization of the profound privilege they had been given.

The exuberant fist pumps after each successful surgery.  The tender follow up care.  Grateful tears all around.

With her heart that wide open all week long, love was bound to slip in.  Especially in those quiet moments while relaxing and debriefing after each full day.  Sharing a meal of warm, comforting food that tasted so good after working so hard, paired with a glass of wine and stories of personal triumphs and losses.

Perhaps he’ll be back next year. 

Please God, she prayed as she settled into her seat and prepared for take-off, would You schedule us for the same week again next year?  My heart is in Your hands.


I know I probably shouldn’t have, but I did.  I participated in Author S B Mazing’s blog event Finish It.  I consider this short short story a sweet little antidote to all the Nicholas Sparks adultery-glorifying “love” stories.  No offense.

S B provides the first line or two – in this case the first paragraph, and we get to finish it.  You can join her event and experiment with short storytelling, too.  She provides a new prompt every Wednesday.


18 thoughts on “Cleft Love – A Short Short Story

  1. Your story was indeed sweet. Just kinda wondering who is Nicolas Sparks and what he has to do with this event. I don’t remember reading any stories about adultry… I haven’t read all of the stories yet, because I only read after I’ve written but I have read all from this particular finish it and do not recall even one. Hmm, like I said, just wondering. Not offended, just kinda seemed like kinda strong language to me. Anyway, hope you play again, I like your writing style!



    • Hi Memee. Nicholas Sparks is an author. Many of his stories have been made into movies. Some of his stories – The Notebook, The Best of Me, perhaps others – give the message that adultery makes a perfectly fine and acceptable “love” story as long as the people involved had a passionate relationship 25 years earlier and were meant to be together. That theme always makes me scratch my head because it’s just not love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, okay. I’ve been sick this past week so could not see the connection. Thank you for taking the time to elucidate me 🙂

        I have another question, your story, it felt so real, have you volunteered or worked in similiar situations to your heroine… it was so vivid, I almost felt like I was there. Thanks!


        • I’m sorry you’ve been sick memee. No, I have never been on a medical mission trip. My uncle was an oral surgeon and he travelled to Nicaragua every year (and other places when Nicaragua became too dangerous) to repair cleft palates. I remember looking at photos of his trips when I was a child. They must have been my inspiration.

          Have you ever volunteered or worked in a similar situation?


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