Thursday, June 16, 2016

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 42: Letting Go

The prompt this week was to write a story about something important being lost. Sometimes by losing something we believe has value above all else, something even more valuable is found.


Since she hadn’t spoken one word to me on the way to the restaurant, during dinner, or on the ride home, I assumed the evening had gone well. There had been no complaints and no recriminations; so, it really took me by surprise when I heard her scream from her bedroom. She had gone in there to hang up her coat, and I wondered if that was the moment she realized she’d actually left the house and returned in one piece. It had been almost two years since she’d gone outside. I ran into her bedroom and found her slumped in a corner grabbing at her chest.

“Are you all right? When did the pain start? Don’t worry because I’m going to call an ambulance right now.”

“No, Daniel. No pain. Look what happened. You have to get it back right away.”

She was holding the gold chain around her neck with one hand and the other hand was waving wildly in the air. Her breathing became irregular and she began to cry.

“I hope you’re happy,” she said between sobs, her tone angry and accusatory. “You knew how much that meant to me and now it’s gone. You pulled it off when you bumped into me, didn’t you? How could you be so cruel? What am I supposed to do now?”

I finally realized what was causing her so much concern. The heart-shaped locket she had worn every day for the past 30 years was gone. Apparently the clasp had broken and separated from the chain. Her husband had given her that piece of jewelry on their wedding night. Within the past couple of years however, it had taken on a special meaning.

“How can you say that? I know how much that locket meant to you. You’ve been wearing that every day. Sooner or later, it was bound to fall off. I know you had it on when we left this evening. I don’t remember if it was still on there while we were eating. I’m going to call the restaurant and ask them to check under the table. Maybe that’s where it fell off.”

“Don’t waste your time. I know I had it in the restaurant because when I went to the restroom and washed my hands, some water splashed on it and I blotted it dry with a paper towel. It was taken from me on our way back to the car. Remember when you bumped into me on the sidewalk? That’s when you pulled it from the chain.”

“I did no such thing. I accidentally bumped into you because there was something on the sidewalk and I tripped. How can you accuse me? You know, in a way, this might be the best thing that could have happened because maybe we can finally bring out into the open what’s been going on. You and I haven’t had a real conversation about anything since the funeral. I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, but this situation has reached a point where it is so far beyond bizarre that it has me frightened; not of you, but for you.”

“Now you’re saying I’m crazy? Is that it?”

“Of course not. I just feel that you’ve let yourself be so overcome with grief that you’ve lost touch with reality. Listen to what you’ve been saying. You’ve actually accused me of deliberately causing you to lose something that I know is very important to you. Tell me that you don’t really believe I would hurt you that way.”

“That locket and what it contained was all I had left of Jack, and you knew that. You kept telling me over and over to get rid of it. Since I refused, you made sure it would be lost. It’s somewhere in the city now, probably kicked from the sidewalk into the street, run over again and again by strangers in their cars and…”

“Stop. You know it wasn’t the locket I asked you to get rid of; it was what was inside of it. That flower had turned to dust and it gave off the most offensive odor.”

“Lies. All lies. You don’t know anything. Yes, my husband gave me that locket on our wedding night, but do you know why that flower was so important to me?”

“Yes, I do. I know all about how…”

“It was our 28th anniversary and we went out for dinner. On the way to the car, Jack wanted to take the long way around and go through the park. He had proposed to me on a bench by one of the ponds and he wanted to go back there just for a moment.”

“That was a wonderful thing. You told me when you got to the bench, he asked you to sit down so he could…”

“When we found that bench, he asked me to sit down, and as hard as it was for him with his arthritis, he got down on one knee and proposed to me all over again. There was a tree next to it with beautiful little flowers on it, and he picked one and handed it to me.”

“He always loved you very much. He would often…”

“When we started back on the trail, that’s when those awful boys with the knives came along and told him they wanted his wallet. He gave it to them, but still they…I know why they…”

“You don’t have to go through this again. It’s too…”

“They kept stabbing him and I kept screaming until those other people came to help, but those boys ran away. All the police and the questions and the blood all over my coat. They kept my coat, you know. Said it was evidence. I don’t know why, but I reached in the pocket before they took it off me and there was the flower. I don’t remember putting it in there, but there it was.”

“I know, and that’s when you put the little flower in the locket where it’s been ever since. I understand, but it’s gone beyond the locket and the flower. Until tonight, you haven’t been out of this house since the funeral and it’s been two years. You have everything delivered to the door, and if I didn’t bring you the mail, a couple of years’ worth of it would still be sitting in the box at the end of the driveway. His clothes are still in the closet, and everything is as it was before he died. This house hasn’t been a home since he was buried; it is a tomb, and you are the corpse inside of it.”

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into leaving the only safe place I have in the world, and look what happened because of it. My locket and my flower are lost now. My life is lost now, and it’s all because of you. How could I have been so foolish to trust you?”

“Mom, your life is not lost. A piece of jewelry and a dead flower have been lost. Yes, they were both important to you, but they were your things. They were not your life. You’ve never been able to move forward since Dad died. I won’t rattle off the so-called normal stages of grief because there’s nothing normal about grief. But you’ve convinced yourself that you could only go on as long as you had that locket and remnants of a flower. Now that they’re gone, you’re gone too?”

“You don’t know what’s it’s been like. You never grieved for him.”

“Mom, you don’t mean that. He was my father – the best father anyone could ever have. I think about him and miss him still. But life does go on. It moves forward. It must. You have resigned from the land of the living and that’s so wrong. I don’t believe in signs and fate and all, but perhaps the loss of the locket and the remains of the flower is a way to make you realize it’s time to let go.”

“You want me to forget him and just go on like he never existed?”

“Of course not. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. It simply means to let the memory of him go where it belongs, and that is to a special place in your heart.”

“I’m just scared.”

“I know, Mom, but don’t worry. We’ll move forward together.”

“My locket and my flower, they are both lost, aren’t they?”

“Yes, Mom, they are, but not you. Not anymore.”

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