Guest post by Avery K. Tingle
The Anniversary is a story about true love. Not the type of true love one finds in fairy tales or romance movies, but the type of true love that has to survive hell and high water to be discovered. It is about two people who have already endured much to get to where they are in life. They’re not rich, they don’t live in the best neighborhood, but they have each other and that’s all they’ve really needed. So after thirty years together, they almost believe there’s nothing they can’t survive together. This raises the question; what if one of them was gone?
This is a science-fiction story so a radical question is posed, and this is the heart of the story. Can people be replaced? What does it mean to truly be human? Can love simply be transplanted from one person to another? What does it mean to truly love someone; not just the body but the facets that make the person who they are?
Most importantly, if you could stave off the death of someone you loved, would you do it, and how far would you be willing to go to save them? Would you grant their dying request even if it meant sacrificing something vital to you?
The idea for this story came from many different sources; I’ve been blessed enough to watch couples work through struggles to find their happily-ever-after, that thirty-year lifelong bond that so many of us hope for (even if we don’t want to admit it). I’ve also seen what happens when someone in a relationship is struck with a terminal illness. Some say both pass on at the end. I lost someone I loved to violence once, and I know how the sting of that never, ever goes away. I wanted to present a controversial option to the notion of true love; what if you could be with someone forever...even if it wasn’t completely them? Would you settle for half? Two-thirds? What if it was what the person wanted for you? Could you set aside your own desires for theirs?
Isn’t that what love is?
This is science-fiction, not just romance. While I’m not sure if it’s particularly groundbreaking, I wonder if it’s ever been explored, the idea that a life partner could be “replaced” in case of illness. This raises so many questions, none of them with easy answers.
I usually write fantasy and that’s fun. The Anniversary was not fun. Quite the contrary, the Anniversary was an extremely difficult and painful journey to take. Writing this story meant confronting some issues I’d dealt with long ago. There were plenty of moments when writing this novel felt like pulling a knife out of my chest.
Easily the most satisfying moment was completing the book, and watching all of these characters come full-circle. I felt as though I could finally close the door on some personal issues, and I felt that all of the characters had reached the appropriate conclusion. The story felt right when I wrote those last two words.
In the end, I want people to come away with a deeper appreciation for the people in their lives. We fight over so many trivial things on a daily basis. Some of them blow up way beyond what we intended. I wonder how we might change our tone if we knew that this was the last day we’d ever spend with them. I want people to think about how they treat others, and I want people to wonder; are things in this story possible and if they were, would we take advantage of them?