A group of writers gather together and give our interpretation of a specific word prompt each week. Once per month, we even write to an image. You never know what you might encounter when you get inside our minds. This week our group writes to the word- number. This will be an excerpt from my new WIP for a new romance contemporary, What the Storm Didn't Take.
No one asked me about Conner. He walked over beside my mother after our little discussion, increasing the distance between the two of us should anyone try to hook us up in their imagination. But, ironically, he knew many of the people there. He’d lived there for the first fifteen years of his life. He walked among the helpers, trying to find where he should start. From a distance I saw him shaking hands and hugging the friends he hadn’t seen in years.
I kept waiting for someone to look over to me, questioningly, accusingly.
Waiting for the gossip bomb to explode. They had my number.
Where were the sly, sideways glances?
The glances never happened, at least I don’t think anyone raised eyebrows or exchanged wink wink nudge nudge’s.
I could have a friend too, and that was okay.
Getting after the work, we all pulled together, babying these trees and getting them into their new permanent homes. One crew put fertilizer into freshly dug holes, more followed with buckets of water to drench the new roots, settling them into the ground. All day, tirelessly, we worked, taking natural breaks for water, sandwiches, and my mom’s cookies. Our friends circled around my idea, and helped me bring the living memorial to life.
Conner and I crossed working paths every so often. Eventually, he had dirt smudges on his nose, and the appearance took me back-
“We gotta dig these worms if we want bait. My allowance run dry and I don’t think you have any money in your pockets, do you?” Conner kept jamming the shovel into the ground, digging for our fish bait. Usually, he did this job, while I watched. Sweat poured down his hairline, into his eyes, the July sun was unusually strong for that early in the day. He wiped the sweat off with a bare hand, mixing dirt with the trickles. He had mud streaks all over his face. I didn’t laugh, I held the bucket for the wiggly payday when he found one after the other. I better not make fun, or he’d hand me the shovel and make me dig.
He finally stopped when we had about two dozen crawlers in the bucket. “Now, we can go. I ain’t got all day. You did bring the sandwiches, didn’t you?”
“Of course I brought the sandwiches. I even brought some of mom’s cookies.”
“Good deal, let’s go!”
Mom’s cookies, Conner’s unwavering loyalty, our friends’ devotion, Garrett’s memorial…that did it. I finally started to cry. Excusing myself quickly for the truck, I needed privacy. The present was a heavy place to be in, the memories- both good and bad were incredibly suffocating.
It’s been a year, it doesn’t seem possible. You’ve been gone a year, and I’m carrying this grief around like a fifty pound sack of feed. It’s heavy, so heavy, but, I can’t put it down. I haven’t gotten where I need to be.
Why does it feel like such a burden? Nothing about you should be a burden. You were my husband, we have a family. I wish I could shake this hefty sorrow, but, it just won’t let me be. I gulped trying to take in some air.
Mom knocked on the truck window. I sat inside, letting the vents blast me with relief.
“Are you okay, honey?” She asked as I rolled down the window.
“I’m fine, just a little overwhelmed.”
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