“I came down here to visit you, you know.” Well. What else was I supposed to say? What is anyone supposed to say inside a crypt, surrounded by the homes of the dead? I didn’t know, but felt I had to say something.
“Your Mom. She doesn’t know what to feel anymore. You know that?” It was true. Her Mom spent hours smiling, and talking, and laughing, and singing, and then… She spent hours crying, and prone on the floor, and staring at her Bible, and her painting of Jesus on the cross, always asking, “Why?”
“You’re Dad’s started drinking.” Everyone had seen that coming. We knew that was how he coped with loss.
“They both ask me why. Why you left. Why you thought you had to leave.” I stared at the drawer she was in. Put my hand on the marble plate on the door. “Ella.”
I don’t know how many times I’d cried, how many nights I’d stared at the stars and wondered if she was happy, finally. At peace, finally. And finally, didn’t spend her existence in agony, constant pain, misery.
“I know. I know.” It didn’t make sense to say why. Ella knew I understood. Those nights I’d sat on the floor, next to the sofa, with her having finally cried herself to sleep, her hand resting on my shoulder. Hell, I didn’t care if I couldn’t stand up the next morning, I wouldn’t move. I’d stay right there, and be right there when she woke.
And she always woke too soon. And always in agony. I could see that in her eyes.
“I used to ask God, you know. I did. Let me carry all the hurt for a while. Let her be happy. Just for a little while. But God never answered me.”
I told her about the darkness in me. I did. That darkness that stains everything. Touches everything. How I can look at a perfect rose, soft, velvet petals, tiny drops of dew on it, and want to hold onto it because I saw the darkness around it, and knew it was going to be gone too soon.
I told her of the times I walked beside the main street. Cars zooming by. Big ass trucks too. “You know. All I had to do to be free, to escape that dark. All I had to do was wait. And when it was time. Take two steps to the side. And all the darkness would have been gone. I’d have been free from it.”
She knew. My Ella knew. And she knew I wouldn’t. Not that I couldn’t. That I wouldn’t. Because. If I did that, I’d have lost her. My Ella. She knew. I’d have walked through the flames of hell, the ones that set fire to the rocks, to be able to see her, and hold her hand, and talk with her.
She knew I’d take being stabbed by a pitchfork, every breath I took, every step I took, every heartbeat, to see the roses once again. To stand on the sand by the ocean, and close my eyes, and feel the breeze, smell the salt on the air, and feel the heat of the sun on my face.
My Ella. She knew. She knew me. Knew I’d learned. The darkness was a small price to pay, and small thing to endure, for me to see those few moments, those few people, that mattered to me. That were gifts to me. From God. I was cursed in this life, I knew that. Ella knew that.
“You had the best smile. And pure magic in your eyes, you know.” I stood in silence for a time, and tried to feel her there, with me. Reaching across time, space, the fabric of life. To hold my hand once more.
“I know.” I wished I could hold her one more time. “I know. My Ella. Be at peace now. Be happy now. Be free. At long last. Be free.”
Finally, I turned, and walked from the crypt. Back into the darkness of the night. The darkness I’d always lived with. As much as I wanted to be free, to join Ella wherever she’d gone. I knew I wouldn’t. I’d stay.
Because I had to see the roses bloom another day. Soft velvet petals. And tiny drops of dew. That somehow, for some reason, washed all the darkness away. If only for a little while. And perhaps. Someday. I would find another soul, like Ella. Who could touch my heart. Like the roses did.
That thought alone was worth staying for.
This is written for Week 66 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.