When The Waters Recede: Short Story Results for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt July 27th

His heart seemed to burst with emotion at the sight of the waterline. The flooding had damaged everything in a three mile radius of the river, but the little church, her recent investment, their last chance at hope, stood as a dry beacon of promise, perched on the slopping hillside.  1394205446tbv46

Troyer waded through the almost waist high water, the scent of mud and grass tickled at his nose, but there was something pleasing about the fragrance, something soothing. It reminded him of dew and sunshine and her, in his arms.

His water boots lost their footing as he pushed up the tiny slop towards the church doors. A curse parted his lips with a frustration that seemed to wash away once he dunked his soiled hands in the cool water.

The water. It had damaged so much, left so many in ruin and devastation, but somehow, in that moment with its coolness swirling around the callouses of his hands, right at the foot of the slop to the church he had not wanted to buy, the water felt like a baptism.

It had taken him almost a full year to clime out of the darkness he had fallen into once he said his last goodbye to her, cursing the cancer that had snatched her life away, and shunning God for letting it happen. But now, with the seat of his pants soaking up the mud of the earth and his hands bathing in the waters edge, tadpoles zipping in between his fingers, Troyer felt…new, alive again.

When he saw on the news that the river had flooded its banks and swept through the county like wipers against a windshield, Troyer thought he was dying all over again. He had not dared to come back here, look at her vision, feel the pain anew. But he couldn’t resist, not with uncertainty pressing against his shoulder blades. He needed to know that some part of her, some glimmer of her joy was still standing here on earth.

And it was. The white clapboards looked to have been scrubbed clean and doused with a fresh coat of paint from where he sat. Troyer knew better. They had already talked about how much they would have to invest in order to convert the old chapel into a beautiful home. They planned to have started that spring right after their wedding…

Tears stung his eyes and his fist clenched beneath the clear water sending the tadpoles off in a scurry. Troyer pushed himself up from the ground and carefully up the slop of the hill. His heart had crawled up into his throat, dragging up the raw pain that he had worked so hard to swallow down.

No amount of anything had helped in the beginning. Slowly he allowed God to touch his wounds, help him keep breathing.

The keys he pulled from his pocket jingled like bells for all the shaking in his hands. He blew out a breath and turned them in the lock, the movement so much like he was opening up his heart again to see where he had last buried his hope.

Stale air washed around him as the doors creaked open. Dust particles, danced in the beams of sunlight that cut in from the stain glass windows. Everything looked so untouched, neglected but screaming of promise, the same way it had when she had convinced him to buy it with her.

Tears shook his shoulders and caused his eyes to blur. A mixer of pain and joy swirled on the inside of him. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. He could almost smell her here.

“Is everything alright?” Avery, her former assistant called from the porch. Troyer swiped the wetness from his eyes and tried not to scowl. He had asked Avery to stay in the truck, but like always she didn’t listen. He couldn’t be mad at her. They had both lost so much when she had died, both of them were searching for hope to move on in their own way. Avery just tended to piggy back off of Troyer’s choices.

“Everything is,” He glanced around the sanctuary and took a deep breath, a smile growing on his face, hope welling up within him. He turned towards Avery. “Everything is going to be fine. I’ll start building as soon as the waters recede.”

THE END FOR NOW…

I hope you enjoyed this peek into Troyer’s world and life. Grief is hard, I didn’t even know he was grieving until I let my fingers kiss the keyboard. I do have a sneaking suspicion that there just might be more then home building in store for Troyer especially with Avery playing his shadow. Love is always in the air for me…at least in my imagination. 

Cheers!

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In Silence: A Short Story and Song

“Well, I am going to go then,” I thumb towards the front door from the back deck and look down at him, waiting for him to respond. We have been sitting out here for the last couple of hours. The perfect buffet line for every mosquito in the neighborhood.

He stares forward still unmoving before finally tilting his head around to look at me. He can’t see my face, which is a good thing. The sun behind my head has created the perfect backdrop, veiling my face in darkness.

Like I said, it is a good thing. I have never been good at poker, and I can’t mask my expressions so well anymore. When this began I was good at it, but its been almost a year now. I began to wear down six months ago.

His eyes glance down at my toes and he grins. I must be balling them and releasing them again, a telltale sign that I am irritated. He is very astute that way. He chances another peek at my face, still veiled in black, now with a scowl that he still can’t see and he says, “So soon? Its only been,”

“Two hours.” I say, the words gliding over my sighing like a surf board against a gentle wave. Two hours doesn’t seem like much to Gavin. He isn’t the one who has to fight through traffic to get back to the other side of town. On a good day, it takes me an hour.

“Two hours,” He repeats my words and then readjusts himself where he is seated. The blanket he keeps over his atrophied legs slides down to the ground at the feet of his walker, and he struggles to reach it. I intervene.

“I’ll do it, Gavin.”  I squeeze in between his chair and mine, reaching for the blanket. He pulls it up just as my fingers connect with it.

“No worries, love. I can do it. I don’t need you to do everything for me.”

His tone isn’t bitter. It just…is. And it freezes me still because that was what I used to come here for, to help him, to do for him what he could no longer do. The accident broke more than just his legs and hips, it broke his soul. It broke me too.

I have been his only constant help besides the nurse who checks on him a few times a week, and the physical therapist who draws more swear words from his lips than a leech does blood.

Even though he has gotten better, rehabilitation has been slow moving, even for a man in his prime, so has our conversations. I miss him, even though I sit next to him almost daily for hours in silence, worrying about my cancerous gas bill for my car. I don’t say anything to Gavin about it. I don’t say much of anything anymore.

He doesn’t respond as much as he did before this. Most of the words I have heard from him over the last few months have been whenever his mother or other family members call from across the pond, and by that I mean England.

I feel like an intruder and less of a friend. I don’t know why I come around anymore. I don’t know how to read him anymore. I finally get up my nerve and ask the question that has been beating within my heart like a caged bird. “What is it that you do need from me, Gavin?”

Truly I am at a loss, but I don’t tell him that. His astuteness allows him to discern that all on his own.

For nearly a complete minute he stares into my eyes, doesn’t glare, just stares as if he has waken up for the first time and has only just in that moment recognized who I am. A smile spreads across his stubbly jaw. He takes my hand and coaxes me into standing only to guide me back to the front of my chair.

“Gavin,” I say his name and begin to resist. It’s to little avail. His legs are weak, not his arms.

“I need you to sit, that’s all.” The smile has gone but there is a “please” dancing in his cinnamon eyes.

Sit, in silence, silence that has been deafening and confusing. Silence that has made me feel awkward, and unwelcome, silence that has made me…I pull the length of my skirt around my legs and lean back into the chair next to him, revelation biting me harder than any of the mosquitoes that have made their meal of me.

Me. This isn’t about me. This is about my friend and his need. This is about his healing and his acceptance of what has happened to him. I suddenly want to cry for having been so selfish, and foolish for missing it.

What did he need? What did he want during his time of loss and struggle to gain himself again? For me to sit. In silence. That is all.

“You want me to sit? That is all,” I ask, tasting the salty savor that comes within my mouth whenever there is a threat of tears.

“No,” He shakes his head, another smile teasing the corners of his lips. “I want you to sit, and have a biscuit.”

I scowl as he chuckles and snatch the cookie from the plate. He knows that word drives me bananas.

“Thank you, friend.” He says, his jaw bulging with the morsel he has shoved in his mouth. Then he grabs my hand, gives it a gentle squeeze, and even though he loosens his hold, he doesn’t let go as we stare forward again, together, in silence.

THE END

Watching the ones we care about be wounded and then heal, can be one of the most difficult valleys to walk through. Our purest desire out of our love for them is to help them, to show we care. Often our care seems to be met with what seems like indifference and silence. It is an easy thing to take these responses personally, but what we often fail to see, even though we are hurting along side that person is that the pain is first their pain that they have shared with us. In other words, we are to abide by their rules in their moment of vulnerability.

This does not mean we enable them to do themselves further harm, but it does mean if all they need is silence and our company, then out of love that is what we should give them. The Bible says we are to share one another’s burdens, we are to cry when our brothers and sisters cry, grieve when they grieve, rejoice when they rejoice…be silent when they are silent. 

After reading someone’s testimony about grief, Christa Wells wrote this wonderful song that speaks volumes as to how we, the friends, the lovers, the sisters and brothers, are to help the ones we love when they are broken. It is called Come Close Now.Take a listen. If you go to the Youtube page, you can read the lyrics. I pray it will help you better help those you love whenever they need you to just sit with them in silence.

Cheers!