I wrote this story a couple months ago and entered it into a competition on Writer’s Digest. Havent heard anything about how it faired.
This week, life is extremely busy but all is well. I am posting this because I dont have time to do a proper post.
Thank you to all who have visited. I do appreciate the support and I hope you enjoy Sara.
By Rob Akers
The silver minivan pulled up to the groomed curb. Mom and her three children slowly pilled out like a spent offering. Walking somberly, mom carried little Tyler while Andy held his mom’s hand. Sara walked aimlessly behind the leader. Finding their bench empty, all three sat motionless with the same thousand yard stare.
“Mommy?” Sara finally spoke in a half whine.
“Yes dear.” Resigned and desperate.
“Can I walk around?”
“Yes honey, stay where I can see you.” The words were lonely and tired.
“Okay.” The prerequisite lines were completed. The same exact lines they spoke, every day for the last eleven months. Rain or shine. Hot or cold. The family made the same pilgrimage out of duty and respect but mostly because of the hope that they could fill the crater that was abruptly taken out of the life
Sara knew the path because she had walked it every day, so many times that there was a single bare line in the grass like a base path on a baseball field. Around the big cross, up to the marker with the strange symbol, over to the flat small stone and back to mom. She would make this path twenty times before she would ask mommy if they could leave. Sometimes she said yes, but more often than not, she would have to walk the path over a hundred times.
She usually thought to herself on her walks. Sometimes she looked at the grass. Sometimes she looked at the bugs and sometimes she looked at the markers. Sometimes she talked to her dad, but he never talked back. She told herself stories of when he was alive and she laughed at some of the things they used to do. She stopped suddenly, when she saw the old lady looking at her. She remembered what her dad always told her, “Never talk to Strangers.” But this lady wasn’t a stranger even though she had never seen her before.
“Hi.” The lady said.
“Can I walk with you for a few minutes?”
“Sure.” The old lady held out her hand and Sara took it. It felt warm and comfortable.
“It is cold out today. Where is your jacket?” Sara asked.
With a kind chuckle. “Oh I don’t get cold anymore. I used too but not now. I am always warm now.”
“Because that is how it is on this side.”
“This side of what?”
“This side of life.”
“What are you doing here? Are you visiting someone who has gone to Heaven?” She asked as they walked past the big cross.
“No, I am visiting you.”
“Because I love you.”
“Oh…I love you too.” Sara couldn’t explain how or why but she knew what perfect love felt like and this woman was perfect love.
“Do you love my mom too?”
“Oh yes dear. Very much so. I loved her even before she was born.” Walking past the marker with the strange symbol.
“Because that is how it works.”
“Can you make her happy again?”
“No. Only she can make herself happy again. But I am my friends are trying to take away her pain.”
Pausing next to the small stone with a lonely RIP engraved on the front, the kind old lady pointed towards mom, who was sobbing gently.
“She misses my dad.”
“Your dad loves you very much.”
“Do you know him?”
“Yes, I am with him all the time.”
“Why did he die?”
“He had a choice. There was a bad man filled with an evil spirit. The bad man was holding a girl like you in front of him. Your dad could have killed the bad man but he might have hurt the girl too. He chose to save the girl.”
“Where is the bad man now?”
“Is my dad happy now?
“Yes. He is there with your mom now.”
Looking up Sara saw him. He wasn’t wearing his uniform like the last time she saw him. He was wearing his favorite clothes, blue jeans and the orange shirt mom always threatened to throw away. Now she only slept in the shirt and refused to wash it because it still smelled like him, even after eleven months. Dad smiled and waved. Sara waved back.
“He sees me!”
“Yes he does. He sees everything now.”
“But mom told me he was in Heaven.”
“He is but before he leaves he is going to wait for you, your mom and your brothers.”
Sara kept looking at her dad, as she did she saw more and more people. It started with one, two then ten, then a hundred, then a thousand and they kept multiplying.
“Who are those people?”
“They are the people who are trying to make your mom feel better.”
Sara waved and they all waved back. Like a scene from Woodstock, hundreds of thousands of images all waving in unison. Sara smiled.
“Can I tell my mom?”
“Yes, Please do. When you get home you should draw her a picture and tell her all about it.”
“Okay. Will I see you again?”
“Maybe but I will always be here with you.”
“How will I know if I can’t see you?”
“The old lady smiled at Sara. That was a great question. “Do you feel this?”
Sara held still and felt intently. It was there, a slight flutter in her heart. If she wasn’t completely still and silent she would have never found it. “Yes.”
“That will remind you that I am with you. When you are scared or lonely be still and feel your heart. You will know I am there. Your mom feels it too but she doesn’t know what it is.”
“Okay, what’s your name?”
“Sara, just like you.”
“Awww. My grandmother was named Sara too.”
“I know.” The old lady smiled.
Finally her mom was standing up. To Sara it looked like she was being lifted by the thousands of people surrounding her.
“Run along butter cup. Tell your mom everything that happened today.” Sara paused, only her dad called her butter cup.
The old lady smiled. “You dad told me to say that to you. He loves you and will be with you too, always.”
Sara looked again at her mom. She was walking towards the van carrying Tyler and holding Andy’s hand. Her dad was there too holding Andy’s other hand. Sara turned and waved goodbye to the old lady as she took off running to re-join her family.