I was visiting my friend Kelly’s Blog (DeBie Hive – awesome blog, you must check it out!) last Friday and noticed her Friday Fiction series. I loved what she wrote, and as a writer myself, I’m always looking for fun ways to stretch that creative muscle. I asked if I could join the challenge, and was accepted! So, enjoy!
I sat at the table staring out of the window. It had been an especially cold winter and the snow still covered the ground, even though spring should technically be arriving any day. I rubbed my hands with my face, rubbed my eyes, pushed my hair back out of my face and massaged my temples. I moved my fingers to my sinus cavities and tried to rub away the unrelenting pain that resided, even hours after the tears were gone.
More than two hours had passed while I sat at the table. I could hear the clock ticking, but I sat frozen in time. I had yet to decide how I would move forward. I was stuck.
How could I make a decision? How could anyone expect me to make a choice like this?
I closed my eyes again and rested my face in the palms of my hands. Taking slow, deep breaths, I wondered how it had gotten to this point. How had I not seen it coming?
The chair grated loudly on the tile floor as I stood up. I walked to the counter and refilled my glass. At least the red wine somewhat numbed the sensation that my entire world might be crashing down around me.
I glanced up at the clock. Three p.m. The children would be arriving home soon from school. I had not showered or gotten dressed. It would not be the first time they had seen me in a state like this. I knew Emmy would be worried. At only eight years old, she has the intuition of an adult. Although the twins are only 18 months younger than her, many days it felt as though years were between them.
I looked at the clock again. Three more minutes passed. No matter what choice I made, someone was going to suffer. It was a lose–lose situation. I took another sip of the wine and set the glass on the table. Another deep breath in and out. I didn’t want to think about it anymore but I knew a choice would have to be made. Sooner, rather than later.
The door opened and the three children ran inside the house, escaping the frigid air as quickly as they could.
“Mama! Mama where are you?”
“In the kitchen.” I stood as they came running in, shedding their bookbags, gloves, and jackets as they made their way to envelope me with their arms. If I could only freeze this moment in time. Right now. Nothing before, nothing after. Three adoring children wrapped their arms around me and smothering me with kisses. Squeals of delight echoed through the kitchen as they recounted their stories of the day.
Only Emmy seemed to notice the clues. I saw her eyes narrow as she took in the her surroundings; me still in my pajamas, the glass of wine, the dishes piled up on the counter. She looked at me with a million questions in her eyes. I tried to convey to her that it was ok, and pulled her in for a hug.
“Mama?” she whispered. “Is it Aunt Lila?” I shook my head no. “Are you sick?” she asked.
“Shhh. It’s ok. I’m ok.” But we both knew that was a lie.
I tried to sound as cheery as I could when I announced to them “Guess what? You are going to spend a few days with your grandma!”
The twins squealed with delight but Emmy’s head snapped in my direction. “What? Why? Where are you going? Mama, what is happening?”
“I have to take a little trip Emmy. Everything is going to be ok. We’re fine. I just have something that I have to do, and I can’t take you with me.”
“Why not? Where are you going?”
I sighed and took in another deep breath. What was I going to tell her? Should I tell a lie? A half truth? I was not sure she was ready for the truth. Why couldn’t I just erase the phone call from this morning? Turn back the clock to yesterday. Or stop time right now.
“I’m going to take care of Aunt Lila for a few days. She’s not well and needs my help.” I went with the half truth. I would indeed be making a trip not too far from where my sister Lila lived, but I had no intention of seeing her on this particular trip. I did not want to explain this to her yet. Not until I knew more. Not until I was sure.
“Why can’t Uncle Danny take care of her? Why can’t I go with you?”
“You can’t miss school Emmy. And Uncle Danny is traveling for work a lot right now. You know the chemo has been really tough on Lila. She just needs a little help.” Oh, that was a bad lie. Now I’m bringing my sister’s cancer into the web of deceit.
Emmy had tears running down her face. The twins, already bored with the conversation, were tearing their room apart in Tasmanian devil fashion. But Emmy stayed with me. She knew. I could tell by looking into her eyes that even if she didn’t know I was lying, she certainly knew there was more to the story.
I pulled her into my arms, kissed her head, and held her tightly. I didn’t want to ever let go.
This post is part of a fiction challenge I am participating in. Do you like the story line? Should I ditch it or continue on with this story?
Here is this weeks prompt:
Stuck in a rut. March is greeen, but winter still comprises 2/3 of the month. Spring is not until the tail end. So this prompt ensures our character is stuck in a (metaphorical or literal, you decide) muddy rut: frozen in a place that despite all his/her inner urgings, s/he can’t move forward or look backward.
Check out the other bloggers participating in this challenge:
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