My response to SKoW's Prompt "My True Love Gave to Me" and winner of an honorable mention!

Twelve Days of Jeremy
by Zoe Elizabeth

Day One: Partridge in a Pear Tree

He was sitting by the barren pear tree in the courtyard when she made it to visit. As she stood slightly teary-eyed at the window in the common room, a petite brunette in chalky-white scrubs approached her.

"You must be Rachel," she said, drawing her attention away from the young man sitting with glazed-over eyes in the wheelchair below.

Rachel nodded and offered the nurse a youthful smile, a smile the nurse graciously returned.

"Your husband is a wonderful man, Mrs. Shepard," she said, stepping beside Rachel to look out the window with her. "He's certainly stubborn, that's for sure."

Rachel smiled weakly. "I would expect nothing less from him."

The nurse laughed. "Yes. I'm not entirely surprised to see it in someone as young as him."

They smiled dimly at one another, and Rachel could see the curiosity in the woman's face. She took a sharp breath in and looked back out the window at her husband. He looked hauntingly like an old man, with an institutional blanket tucked across his lap. She frowned wearily and looked back at the nurse.

"Am I allowed to talk with him?"

The nurse's eyes lightened, while her heart simultaneously ached. She nodded, and Rachel tightened her jacket around her body as she headed towards the nearest staircase. Her feet tapped pleasantly against the linoleum stairs, and the nurse pretended not to watch as the youthful woman scurried across the decaying grass towards her husband. Rachel, likewise, ignored the nurse's blurry figure in the window pane, watching over the two of them like an angel.

"Jeremy?" Rachel called out instead, kneeling beside him on the frozen ground.

His eyes trailed from the branch hanging above her head to meet hers. She frowned at how hollowly he looked back at her. She reached out and stroked his pale cheek, choosing to overlook the bandages poking out from underneath his hat.

"There's a bird."

Rachel raised her eyebrows and looked straight above, noticing a peasant-type bird chirping slightly on one of the upper branches. She smiled and kissed Jeremy on the forehead.

"She's singing for you."

She felt his fingers find a grip around hers. He squeezed surprisingly tight, and Rachel pulled away to stare at him. She could still see he was in there somewhere, fighting to find a way out. She smiled sweetly at him and continued to stroke his cheek.

"Don't forget me."

Rachel smiled, feeling her chest sharply tighten and her eyes water. She kissed his forehead again, and pressed her cheek against his.

"How can I forget you when you're right here?"