Writing prompt: NOTHING
Provided by: Petra Hefner , fellow participant of the A to Z challenge.Visit her! And mega-thanks go to Andrew Graeme Gould for letting me use his photograph yet again. His pictures talk to me, and I take down the dictation.
Please leave me prompts if you haven’t already!
Nothing had prepared them for the loss of their child. Or how they would be with each other once the funeral and memorial service gave way to long days and nights of silence.
Silence has a language all its own, and it became their substitute for talk. Like absentee landlords, their selves left their bodies in charge and walked off in search of their son, each alone. Hurting.
After fifteen years of marriage, she knew to leave the heat switch on when she woke up, for his bathwater. The breakfast lay on the table when he was ready for office, and when he came back , the table carried dinner. When they had finished eating, she switched on the television, and he loaded the dishwasher. The remote sat on the table before them as they stared at the screen. When she felt her eyes closing, she washed up and went to bed, where she feigned sleep. He joined her a little later, lying quiet on his side of the bed. Sleep came to them at different times, usually near dawn, and brought them separate nightmares.
All your fault, you stupid, selfish man.
I did not ask him to come with me, he liked it, and so he came. I miss him as much as you do.
He had surfed all his life, travelled far and wide to do it on different beaches, met her on one of them. He had taken the boy surfing since the year he turned nine. He did not know that four years later, the sea would turn red with blood, and that they have to bury an empty coffin. The son would never be found.
I watered him with my blood, you spilled it. I gave him birth, you, death.
He was my blood too. I hurt as much as you do.
He is gone now. I have nothing left.
You have me, we have each other.
She saw him hurt, her man, who she had married despite the difference in their ages, the displeasure of her parents and his, his crazy schedule of surfing around the world, the sharks. And a shark took her son. She should have known. She had never been to the beach since. Never will again.
That afternoon, she woke up beside him, and felt his breath upon her hair. He was spooned behind her, not touching. His face lay open as he slept, his lips drooling on the pillow, like her son when very young.
He is alive. I’m alive. I have no right to kill him too.
She sat there, watching him. Outside, the sun had begun to set. He opened his eyes after an hour, and seeing her eyes on him, smiled. The first smile on his face in more than an year. She had forgotten what he looked like when he smiled.
I love you, and I’m sorry.
Who was that? Neither of them, or both. It does not matter.
Walk with me? he said.
And she did.