A Visit From Paul

ray-hennessy-d_rIw1hircY-unsplash

Milford, Delaware (Photo: Ray Hennessy on Unsplash)

 

“He comes to visit,” a man’s voice jarred her out of her reverie.

She’s been watching a waterfowl in the sparkling water. It’s been staring back, she felt.

“The bird?” she turned. The speaker was a frail-looking man who still managed a bearing that stated “military.”

“If it is that.”

She glanced at the crane. The oldster sounded neither confused nor joking.

“Tell me,” she rose to make room on the bench.

The man extended a hand to shake. “Smith. US Navy.”

“Marcia,” she returned.

They used to build ships in Milford, he told her. Built the four-masted Albert F. Paul, too. Launched it from the Abbot shipyard in 1917.

“174 footer, she was,” Smith sighed. “I would’ve been onboard, you see, if I hadn’t been injured. Would’ve gone down with my mates when the Germans torpedoed her in 1942.”

“The fallen seamen,” he lifted his chin toward the bird, “they visit me.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Delaware

 

For Eternity

freddy-castro-u3ajSXhZM_U-unsplash

Photo: Freddy Castro on Unsplash

 

He visited her grave every year on the day they’d met. Every year on the day he’d proposed. Every year on the day they’d gotten married. Every year on the day she’d passed on and left him bereft of the best part of himself.

Sometimes if he was alone in the cemetery, he’d stretch on the ground near her headstone and mouth the words she’d left him in her note. She’d given him the sealed envelope shortly after she was diagnosed. Made him promise not to open it. Until. He knew them all by heart.

The Rock cries out to us today,” she wrote. “You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face. You are and always have been my core. My spirit will no longer be bound to this body, but our souls will continue traveling together. For eternity and beyond.”

 

 

(Note: Italics = prompt quote by Maya Angelou)

For the dVerse Prosery challenge

 

 

Up In Smoke

anton-rusetsky-PTiNuIxdKrk-unsplash

Minsk (Photo by Anton Rusetsky on Unsplash)

 

“These stacks look like a hand,” Bella rested her chin on the window’s ledge and gazed at the golden hues of sunset over Minsk. It was beautiful.

“A hand with six fingers.”

Bella scowled into the glass. In her mother’s tone she heard challenge, dismissal, and disdain. It stole the luster off the previous moment’s calm. She resented the coldness with which her mother marred everything during this visit. It felt like a smudge she could not wipe.

So she was surprised when her mother came to kneel on the bed by her, close enough to touch. Close enough to feel the trembling. Her mother rarely cried.

“Six fingers for the six millions,” her mother whispered. “And these clouds like burning souls against the evening sky. Everyone my mother had known. Our whole extended family. Burnt. Dead. Gone. This city will never be free of them, Bella. They speak on.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Minsk

 

The Great Loss

 

“Did Great-Grandpa really fight in the Great War?”

“He did.”

“What made it great, Mama?”

She sighed. This place’s heaviness only settled thicker during the holidays. She’d come every year on Christmas as a child. Too infrequently since. The ocean’s breeze whipped hair into the boy’s eyes and she tucked a lock behind his ear. He so reminded her of herself.

“Grandma Rose said it was because the Heavens everywhere lit with the great number of souls and broken hearts. The Great Loss, she called it.”

“A lot of Christmas angels, Mama?”

“Perhaps so.”

“I think Great-Grandpa is one, though.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all who are missing loved ones during the holidays, to all who are no longer with us for they’d given their lives (or parts of their souls) for others, in search of peace, in hope of no more war or hate or greed. May we do better, as a species. Let there be true peace on Earth.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

(Thank you Sandra Cook for the evocative photo prompt!)

 

 

Not Long Enough

dusk1 OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

“It will be long enough, for a life,”

He said.

She blinked back tears

And said nothing

Because she knew that no matter

How long he would be

Around

Would not be longevity

Enough

For her.

Instead, she patted his hand and

Plumped his pillows

And fussed with the covers

Over his beloved

Form,

Once robust,

Now a shadow of itself.

The shadow smiled.

He understood.

He always had.

At his last inhale, she smiled back.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Longevity in 76 words

Note: Dedicated to all tender goodbyes. Especially the final kind.

 

 

Secret Service

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

 

“We used to go in through that side door,” Mama said.

I stared at the narrow wooden portal. “Because you are a girl?” I knew that Jewish traditions relegated women to a separate area in the synagogue, sometimes a designated entrance.

“No,” Mama’s voice shook and I reached for her hand. Her tears surprised me.

She seemed reluctant to cross the street. I couldn’t blame her. The building looked forbiddingly cold, sealed shut.

“No,” she repeated, a note of defiance in her eyes. “So no one knew services were held. They’d have come for us if we were found out.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

 

Gone Today

IMG_0304

Photo: Keith Channing

 

They came for the car today.

It’s just a car, she tried to tell herself. It would not make sense to keep it. Not with the fees and with the debt on it only increasing. Oh, she tried, but there was no way around the loss of it.

No way around loss. In general.

She couldn’t bear to go outside to see it off. She stayed indoors, her nose glued to the window, her sweaty palms pressing life-lines into the glass, her heart in shreds.

It’s been his car.

And he would not be coming home to drive it.

 

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated on this Veterans Day (US) and Remembrance Day (The Commonwealth), to all who fought and won and lost and left and returned, or left and did not return, or not in the same way they’d left. And to the many who still are away in uniform. You are seen. You are known. May all come home whole. And may humanity one day learn peace and no more war.

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #237

 

 

Pink Ribbon

Pink dawn1 KarenForte

Photo: Karen Forte

 

If I could have a pink

Ribbon

Large enough to show my love

Of you

Who fought

And lived

And fought

And passed

And fight on

Still,

I would need the whole breadth

Of sky

To mark

It’s size

And enlist the heavens

As both paint

And quill.

 

 

(Photo by my amazingly talented and generous friend Karen Forte, who fills my heart and soul with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.)

For SundayStills: Pink

 

The Way Of Stars

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They were like stars, swirling low and high across the sky, marking the path of time and soul and light and dark and what will come and what had been.

As the murmuration rose and swelled, so did the sorrow in her chest, as did tears, and longing, and gratitude.

Her grandmother had told her once, that murmurs were a way of making stars. Flocking in elegant waves across the heavens, to the places far above, where movement wasn’t labored and where breath no longer hurt and where hearts beat in the unison of souls that know all separation is only an illusion.

She held on, remembering, her tears a stream to feed flowers that would grow to feed the small things that would feed the starlings that would murmur to make stars to house beloved souls. And she thought of how the murmur in her chest – which made sound and sobs – ached and expanded as the birds’ wings wove and rose and dipped and dove.

For it was like being seen.

The starlings’ dance a last hello, a soft goodbye, a blessing on the wind.

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo: Murmur

 

 

 

Read To Remember

Photo prompt © CEAyr

 

“I read to remember,” she said, her voice steel and quiver. “I read because he no longer can and because I know he was, most very likely, reading at the very moment his life stopped, evaporated, in mid-word. I read because mine almost stopped in the loss of him and in the enormity of the awfulness that took him and so many.

“I read to not forget. Because there is a bigger spark in life than in sorrow, and because he never would have left us, and certainly not this way. If it weren’t for the planes.

That September day.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all the lost, and to all those who lost so much, and to all that has been changed — insidiously and indelibly for so many — on September 11, 2001. I was here. I remember and I understand why we remember and what we must remember about ourselves and about who we can be. May we hold truth. May we be the better, kinder, more humane version of ourselves.

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers