Isabelle had a hard and cruel life. She lived in a broken home where her father had left when she was only two and, for as long as she could remember, her mother had a different man over every week.
Belle knew from the time she could understand what love meant, she wasn't getting any from anyone. She had learned at a very young age that if she wanted anything to be done or, if she wanted to be successful in life, she would have to do it by herself without the help of anyone else. Her mother had starved, physically and emotionally abused, neglected, and hated Belle for as long as she could remember. Her biological mother had often told Isabelle that she was the biggest mistake of her life, and that she wished she'd never been born. She made it quite clear that her wish was that Isabelle were dead or, that someone would come take her away.
When Belle was six, her mother's wish was granted. Social Services came and took Belle away from her home and placed her in an orphanage. For the next six years, Belle was shuffled from foster home to foster home, sometimes having to deal with the same abuse her real mother had inflicted upon her. Fi nally, on her twelfth birthday, her social worker came to tell her that a family had read her profile and was interested in adopting her.
It had been four years since Belle had actually thought that she could be happy. She had met with the Roberts' that very day and has been living in their home ever since. Devlin and Selina Roberts officially adopted her on her thirteenth birthday, and had loved her as if she were their very own. The past four years have been more wonderful than Belle could ever imagine. She was actually happy and loved for the first time in her life. She finally began to trust, believe and, most importantly, love.
The Roberts put Isabelle in public school as well as music lessons. Belle is at the top of her class, captain of the debate team, yearbook editor, newspaper reporter, and loved girlfriend of Jerry, captain of the school's football and basketball teams.
Isabelle and Jerry have been an item for two and a half years. Jerry is Belle's first love. She can hardly remember her life before him, or picture it without him. Jerry was always a popular guy and has had his fair share of girlfriends but none which he loved or cherished more than his Belle.
* * * *
Isabelle looked at her tear-stained face in her elegant mirror on her dresser. She could hardly believe that her not-so-perfect life had just shattered around her and there was nothing she could do to fix it. Never in a million years did she think she would have to face the news she had received a little over two weeks ago. She just couldn't face the fact that she had AIDS and was going to die.
Jerry and Isabelle had been lovers for over a year. Isabelle was worried about getting pregnant when she and Jerry were first sexually involved but she had never thought that he, her true love, could give her such a horrible disease. Jerry told her that he loved her with all of his heart and soul, and that he would never hurt her nor would he let anyone else do any harm to her as long as he had a breath within his body. He had deceived her and lied to her. That one promise that he had made to her four years ago, back before they were even dating, was the one promise that she believed would never be broken. He had destroyed her dreams, hopes, and her future.
There was a light knock on Belle's door. Selina opened the door and walked into Belle's room. "Isabelle, honey, are you okay? I thought I heard you crying a moment ago?"
"I'm as fine as can be expected, I guess. I still can't believe that this is actually happening to me. How could he do this to me?"
"Belle, you know that he didn't mean to hurt you. He only found out the very same day as you did that he, too, had AIDS. How do you think he's feeling? He's going to be very sick, too, and he has harmed the love of his life?"
"I know, mom, it just hurts so bad. I don't even know how much longer I have to live, or even if any of my dreams are going to come true. I can't become a lawyer now, get married, or have kids. All of my dreams are destroyed. I have nothing to live for, all of my hard work and determination haven't been worth a thing."
"I know you're feeling hurt and confused, honey, but don't think like that. All of those dreams may still come true." The doorbell rang and Devlin sang out to let Belle know that Jerry was there to see her. In the past two weeks since both of them found out they had AIDS, they hadn't spoken to one another, and Belle wasn't sure she could speak to him now. "Shall I send Jerry up to see you?" asked Selina as she stood up from sitting on the bed beside Isabelle and walked towards the door. With a little nod of Belle's head Selina smiled and walked out the door. A few moments later Jerry came into her room.
"Hi. How are you feeling?" Jerry asked as she came to sit on the bed beside her.
"As fine as can be expected, I suppose. How are you?"
By this time, fresh tears were rolling down Belle's perfect, smooth cheeks. Jerry leaned over and, with his right thumb, he gently wiped the tears from her face. He noticed to how her lily-white skin looked so pale beside his tanned hand. He kept his hand on her cheek as he looked into her baby blue eyes with such love and compassion. "I really didn't mean to do this to you, Belle. If I could, I would take my own life this very minute if it meant that you would be well and happy again. Can you ever forgive me?" As Belle looked deep into his green eyes she could see both the pain and love he held within them. How could she not forgive him? He had been her first friend when she moved here, her first boyfriend, her first everything. She knew that he never intended to hurt her.
"I forgive you, Jerry. You mean the world to me, and I don't want to face this alone."
"As long as I'm alive, or even when I die, you will never be alone. I will always love you with all of my heart." He then reached his hand into his pants pocket and pulled out a locket. On the inside was a picture of her on one side and, on the other, was a picture of him. On the back of the locket read the inscription; together or apart, you hold the key and all the love of my heart. "I want you to wear this and always know that you are never alone."
"I love it, I'll wear it forever." With that, Jerry put the necklace around her neck, gave her a kiss, and held her, thinking that he would never lose her, his precious love.
* * * *
Eight years later, Isabelle Winters lay in the hospital fighting for her life. Some of her dreams had come true after all. She had married Jerry four years ago and had adopted a boy and girl from the same orphanage that Belle had lived in when she was a little girl. She had a full life as wife, mother, and lawyer. Jerry walked into her hospital room and took her hand into his as he kissed her on the forehead. "How are you feeling?" Jerry asked as he sat on the chair beside her bed.
"Much better. How are you and the children?"
"We're fine but don't worry about us, just think about getting better. "
"I don't know if I'm going to get better this time Jerry. I feel so weak."
"Don't talk like that. You thought your life was over at sixteen, a nd all of your dreams were destroyed but they weren't, were they?"
"I love you Isabelle, and I'm not going to let you die on me now." Jerry looked into her weak and pain-filled eyes and knew that his beautiful wife would soon be taken away from him. He bowed his head and began to pray that God would just let him keep her a little longer. As he was praying, he heard Isabelle tell him that she loved him and their children with all of her heart. She then smiled at Jerry, gave him a kiss, and breathed her final breath. Jerry began to cry as he looked at his wife who seemed to be in a peaceful sleep. He then realized that one hand was still intertwined with his and the other was holding the locket which he gave her on the day that he told her that even death wouldn't keep them apart. Isabelle was gone because of him and his broken promise.