For this week’s Fiction Friday, I’m sharing a short story that’s in progress. It’s the story of a woman who starts over, in another country, after several tragedies strike. While it may seem a little dark, I guarantee you it will have a happy ending.
Part One of my Unnamed Short Story…(truly a work in progress…)
In the span of six months, I had lost the three people I loved most in the world: my mother, my father, and my husband. My father had been battling lung cancer for two years. My mother had been in perfect health. There was an ice storm and my mother decided to leave work a little earlier than normal because she worried about traffic and was nervous to drive in dangerous conditions. She hit an icy spot, her car spun out of control, merging with a large oak tree, and she was pronounced dead upon arrival at St. Joe’s Hospital. When my father heard the news—the dreadful news that I had to tell to an un-well man—his own desire to be a part of this world ended that minute. He was dead six months afterwards. My husband was not dead, though I won’t lie that I didn’t wish him so at times, but shortly after my mother’s death and before my father’s, I realized he was having an affair with a woman he met through work. They were responsible for organizing training sessions around the region for employees, often spending hours upon hours developing manuals and presentations, among other things.
I was alone with my father the night he died; the nurse from hospice had left moments earlier at my urging to get a sandwich from the sub shop down the street. When she came back, I was holding my father’s hand, sobbing, and all I remember is that the nurse kissed the back of my head and gave me a hug from behind. The rest is a blur.
It’s hard to imagine that in the span of several months, your life can be altered in an unrecognizable way, that as quickly as one, two, three, they were all gone, and I felt the interminable hum of loneliness like I’d never experienced before.
* * *
It becomes difficult to breathe when your everyday, comfortable life vanishes as if a wicked magician has worked a bad trick on you. I have no siblings, but I do have cousins in numbers. My mother was one of seven children, and perhaps that’s the reason she chose only to have one. Nevertheless, while there was sufficient support in the beginning, and while I appreciated it, I found myself wandering around my apartment—the one I threw my husband out of—pacing the floors, crying, not ever knowing what time of day it was until the sun actually set outside my paned picture window. In a very foggy state of depression coupled with an inordinate amount of red wine each night, on or about the tenth day after my father’s death, I received a call from my cousin Addie who had been living in the Cotswolds in England for the last year. She’d been unable to make it home for the funeral, and had waited for things to settle before she called. She was the cousin I often found myself counting on, both in our youths and as grown adults. Our mothers taught us how to knit, and we were the two who organized plays or team games for our families on hot summer evenings. We were close, just as her mother and my mother were the closest of the five sisters, though my mother also had strong relationships with her two brothers.
“Are you okay, then?” she asked me, our connection not as clear as one would hope.
“No,” I said. I couldn’t go on much more than that. There was a lump that had settled in my throat and an unrelenting headache that throbbed.
“I want you to come and visit me. It will do you good to get away, don’t you think?”
“Oh, I’d love to Addie, but what will I tell my employer? Sorry, everyone’s left me and I know I must earn money to support myself, but I need some time off.”
“Yes,” she said. “That is exactly what you will tell them. You are grieving, Liz, they know that. Don’t you get bereavement leave?”
My parents bequeathed all their possessions and my father’s savings account to me in their will. While they were by no means wealthy, they had a solid portfolio and took care of their property, and when I eventually sell their estate, I will be financially stable—for a while. The thought of this money does not make me happy; it only makes me wish more that my parents were still with me.
“I can’t come just yet,” I told her. “Maybe when things settle down. I need to get things in order.”
“I understand,” she said. “I am here for you. Please come when you can.”
I agreed, making a promise I knew was going to be difficult to keep.