The leaves crackled under Angela’s feet as she left the paved path that wound through the gravestones. A sharp November wind snaked under the hem of her jacket and down her collar as she clutched a blanket and a book to her chest. She should have put on the royal blue knitted scarf that Michael had given her, but she couldn’t bear the sight of it. Not today.
She hated the day.
For the first few years she’d worked on the anniversary of Michael’s death, throwing herself into her job and trying to block out every memory that tried to worm its way into her head. But she always found herself at the cemetery anyway, so she finally gave up pretending that the day would go any other way.
She came to a stop in front of Michael’s grave.
Nestled between the ubiquitous granite headstones was a sculpture. It was less than a foot tall, partially hidden by the dry leaves. Angela shook out the wool blanket she’d carried from the car and spread it in front of the sculpture before taking a seat on it.
Michael lay below her in a coffin. Rotting.
Morbid thoughts wormed their way into her brain sometimes. Like now, when she couldn’t help but wonder how decomposed his body was. She hadn’t had him embalmed. The unnatural preservation seemed worse than decay, but sometimes the thought of his ruined beauty made her feel sick.
She leaned forward, brushing the leaves away from the base of the sculpture. She’d had an artist friend create it, but she’d designed it herself. It was a hand clutching a book.
Her mother had accused her of being vulgar and disturbed. After all, it was how Michael had died, so distracted by the books he’d checked out at the library he hadn’t see the bus coming. She’d been a few yards behind, on her phone, not paying attention. She’d looked up too late to warn him.
She’d never get the image of his crumpled body out of her head, or the sight of a book clutched in his right hand.
She’d never get rid of the guilt either.
Angela looked down at the book she’d brought with her. A rusty brown smudge on the front cover was the only visible sign of damage. She opened the book, the spine falling open to the only page she ever read.
The words poured forth.
“Hand in hand we come
Christopher Robin and I
To lay this book in your lap.
Say you’re surprised?
Say you like it?
Say it’s just what you wanted?
Because it’s yours-
because we love you.”
A sob left her and she realized her cheeks were wet.
“My baby. My sweet baby.”
Angela felt someone sit down beside her and a warm hand stroking her back. She turned her head, burying her face in her wife’s neck and sobbed.
After eleven years, it should have grown easier, but it never did.
I had no idea where I was going with this, but once I started writing it flowed.
Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.You definitely want to read Helena’s story this week!
I look forward to seeing you next Monday!