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Friday, July 28, 2017

The Fullness of the Void

I wrote this mainstream fiction story some years ago. I believe in 2010. When I read it to my writers' club, they were telling me it was one of the best things I'd written (up to that point, of course). They were convinced that I should be writing mainstream stories, not all that sci-fi/fantasy stuff. lol. But they asked me if I'd gone through someone close dying before, because the story read as if I had. At the time, I had not. Since then, my step-dad and mother have died. They were astounded that I had nailed the emotions so well, not having gone through it myself.

Anyway, today I was thinking of this story and started looking where I'd posted it. Apparently, I had not. I believe the anthology ebook I put out last year was the first time it had ever been published. So I decided to remedy that oversight. The following story is my second mainstream story I've written. The first one was also loved by more than one. So who knows, maybe I should be writing more mainstream stories. Enjoy this one, on the house.


Samarqand Afrasiab CemeteryI had lost her. No more tender kisses. No more sitting on the porch swing. No more holding hands. No more complete Christmas dinners. Only a gaping hole the size of the Grand Canyon. How could I live half a life?

Resentment rose within me as friends and family returned to their cars to leave. My legs could barely move, as if leaving would make her death real, admit defeat in the face of evil. The limousine left the graveyard even though my heart didn't.

But they said I needed to let go, to move on, that she would want me to get on with my life. What did they know of what she wanted? She wanted to be with me, with her family. But that wouldn't happen any longer, thanks to a drunk driver. She had became another statistic in a police report, but the only statistic that mattered to me lay in the grave I'd left behind. Leaving me without a wife, and my six-year-old son, Davy, without a mother.

"Daddy, Auntie Jill said that God took Mommy. Why did He do that?" His searching eyes peered at me from under his brown bangs.

I gulped as I struggled to maintain control. "God didn't take her. Some people say that, thinking it will make you feel better."

"Then why did Mommy leave us? When will she be back?"

I closed my eyes. I wanted to know why too. How could I put this? "Son, your mother didn't decide to leave. She would never have left us by choice."

"Then who decided?"

"No one did." I breathed in deep. "Sometimes it just happens, and no one decides." Except for the man who chose to drive after drinking.

Davy stared out the window for a moment. "When will she be back?"

I'd hoped the funeral and our talk would have made the truth real to him. But my churning emotions couldn't handle saying the words again. Why did he have to ask now?

Well meaning relatives said I had to be strong for Davy. As if that task might help me to get over her faster or make things better for Davy. But tears dribbled from my eyes.

I jerked my head away from my son. "She's not coming back! Okay! End of story. No more questions. Just shut up!" I squeezed my eyes shut and and covered them with my hands.

From beside me, he cried.

Friends from church dropped off food, cards, flowers, and hugs. I appreciated all their efforts, but I couldn't muster up the ability to feel appreciative. I waited for the dream to end—to wake up, and find her lying beside me. Reality knocked at my door, waiting patiently for me to open it. I couldn't. Not yet.

One of the packages from church contained mementos to remind us of her, including a DVD they'd taken the time to put together. A couple of the women had gathered videos from me, friends, and other family members, to create a remembrance movie.

Davy lay on the couch, whimpering off and on. He had remained silent, except for the crying. Even six-year-olds deserve to grieve.

I sat the packages from the last group of well-wishers on the counter and grabbed the DVD. I sat beside him. "Son, I'm sorry for speaking harshly to you earlier. I shouldn't have done that." I pulled him into a hug. "I didn't want Mommy to go either."

Davy's small arms wrapped around my waist, and he buried his face into my chest. The crying ceased, but he didn't release me for several minutes.

"I have some movies of Mommy. Would you like to see them?"

His red eyes met mine. He nodded.

I pushed the disk into the player and turned on the TV. A picture of her face filled the screen; the title, "Memories of Kate, Wife and Mother," sat centered along the top.

Seeing her amber hair flowing over her shoulders, her blue eyes, and her infectious smile, stabbed a knife into my gut. I closed my eyes. Then narration kicked in and I heard the laughter of Davy on the video.

I opened my eyes to see Kate chasing Davy through the monkey bars. She remained just far enough away from him to keep him running all the time while crying out, "I'm gonna get you!" Davy giggled as he scampered around the playground.

I checked to see his reaction. A smile had edged its way onto his lips. I relaxed. This would help him, but for me, I'd be bawling like a starving baby if I watched.

"I'm going to make us something to eat." I returned to the kitchen. As I finished stashing the gifts into the cupboard, a knock rapped at the door.

I opened the door; Pastor Bob stood before me.

"Come in," I offered.

"I wasn't planning on staying long. But wanted to come by and make sure you'd received everything."

"Oh, yes. It was a lovely basket they put together. And the food is very much appreciated."

He smiled. "They've scheduled to have someone deliver food every day this week. But if no one shows up, give me a call. I'll make sure something gets here."

"You're very kind."

"We've got to support one another in times like this." He placed a hand on my shoulder. "And Jack, I know this is a hard time for you, but things will get better. It will be okay."

I gritted my teeth. I so desperately wanted to yell, "It will not be okay!" I knew he meant well, and I knew in time some healing would happen. Life would go on, but it wouldn't be okay. Never.

I nodded. "Thank you."

He gave a final squeeze before releasing me. "Call if you need anything else, or need to talk. I'm here for you."

I waved as he retreated to his car.

I closed the door and then leaned my head against it. Did everyone expect me to return to normal tomorrow? My clients had made arrangements to give me a few days off, but in the back of my mind, I knew if I remained absent too long, they'd hire someone else. I couldn't afford letting my website design and coding business fall apart while I did.

I breathed deep and returned to distributing the delivered casserole onto dishes. I glanced up to see the TV showing Kate singing with a couple other ladies in church. Her voice rang pure with the others. I stood, soaking in her voice as they sang, "Amazing Grace."

The song ended. Davy's head no longer poked over the back of the couch. Did he fall asleep? I stepped over to find the couch empty. Maybe he went to the bathroom? I checked, but no Davy.

"Davy!" No one answered. I checked his bedroom. I checked his playroom. Nothing. I checked the garage. The back door creaked in the wind.

I rushed out the door and scanned the area. "Davy, where are you!" I found no sign of him, but the back gate door swung on its hinges in the breeze. I ran through it and scanned the street. "Davy!" Silence responded.

My gut knotted. I fled back into the house, and grabbed the phone, dialed 911, and waited. "Come on!" I rapped the doorpost.

"What is your emergency?" An older lady's voice sounded on the other end.

"You've got to find my son!"

"Is your son missing, sir?"

"Yes." My pulse throbbed in my ears. "He's on the street somewhere. Please do something."

"I'm sending a unit to your house now. When was the last time you saw him?"

"He was watching a video, of my w. . ."


The image of him smiling as he watched her on the playground burned into my mind. "Hold on. I think I know where he might be. I'll call back if he's not there." I slammed the phone down before she had a chance to respond. I grabbed my car keys and raced to the garage.

The moon and stars watched as I sped along the street. What if someone had kidnapped him? What if he'd been hit by another drunk driver? The streets were no place for a six-year-old at night.

I pulled to the curb at the park. I stepped out of the car and scanned the area for him. A small figure sat on a bench by the monkey bars. A lamppost cast a glow over him and the playground.

I approached him, and tension drained from me. It was Davy.

I sat beside him, but he didn't acknowledge my presence. I followed his eyes; he stared at the monkey bars. I breathed deep. "She's not here."

Without taking his eyes off the playground, he touched his forehead. "She's here."

He was imagining her playing with him! I had given up on her, but he hadn't. Death didn't separate him from her. The hole grew a little smaller.

I touched his chest. "I think she's also in here."

He smiled. "Would you like to play with us?"

I drew him into a hug. "Yes, I would like that very much."

We sat on the bench, and made the past, present.

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