Had a sudden inspiration today and decided to take a break from the novel for a couple of hours. I wrote this story based solely on the first line earlier today. Hope you enjoy, let me know if you find any major mistakes as I didn’t edit it heavily. The novel was getting jealous. 🙂
By Jason Warden
The world was sepia. Browns and black shadows mixed together with a grey light that came from the sky. Billy thought it odd that in all the new and colorless world what he noticed most was the way the leaves rustled on the tree outside his window. He didn’t know why that should strike him as odd or out of place, only that it did and that it also scared him. He looked from the tree to the flagpole, at first unsure why he was doing so, but when he saw that the striped grey and brown flag was perfectly still, his heart sank. There was no breeze, no wind at all to rustle the leaves and it was then he remembered the thing he didn’t want to remember, the thing that was impossible to forget.
Movement caught his attention from the corner of his eye and he turned away from the flagpole sure of the horrors he would be witness to even before he saw. A scream rose unbidden in his throat in preparation, but before he could let it loose a voice stopped him as surely as a gag.
“Shhh Billy, it’s me.”
“Lori?” Billy asked dumbfounded.
“Listen I don’t have much time. I just wanted to check on you.”
“I’m okay. How are you?”
The question sounded stupid, ridiculous to his own ears, and he didn’t give her a chance to answer. “Lori, why’d you go away? Mom cries all the time now. Dad’s better, but he’s not the same.”
“I’m sorry Billy, It’s not fair, but I can’t talk to them. They are just too close minded.”
“But if you just tried I’m sure…”
“I have tried. I try all the time.”
Her voice was loud in the night air, and Billy realized everything else had gone quiet. Even the sound of the leaves rustling had stopped. Billy looked away from her only long enough to see that even the crickets and night bugs had stopped their incessant whine. Quickly, he pulled his eyes back to her afraid she would vanish while he was distracted. She turned away, hiding her tears and Billy suddenly felt sure she would go, just drop down from the tree and vanish into the colorless world forever. He wanted her to stay. Mom would surely let her. After all, hadn’t it been his fault she had left in the first place? Of course it had. Billy tried to remember what their last argument had been about and couldn’t. Only his last words to her remained. Words he didn’t think he’d ever forget.
“I’m sorry for what I said Lori.” He said, hoping the unasked for apology would somehow change her mind.
“Biilllyy… How many times do I have to tell you it wasn’t your fault? None of it. Do you think I’d keep coming back if I was mad at you?
“Then why don’t you stay? Mom’s not mad.”
He was starting to cry. He spoke in short spasmodic bursts.
I’ll… I’ll do your chores for a whole week if you’ll just stay.”
“I’m sorry Billy.”
Billy closed his eyes and what felt like a river of tears streamed down his face. In that instant, he realized what he’d done and opened them again. She was gone, but in the whisper of night air, he heard her voice.
“I love you Billy.”
She held him too tight. Cramped and uncomfortable, wishing only that he could stretch out, roll over, anything but lay still one second longer; he moved his legs slightly and tried to turn toward her. He was surprised when she didn’t pull him close and prevent his escape, but as he turned he saw her blue eyes were on him and that she didn’t even know he hated the closeness of this. He also saw those eyes were still red and tired. She hadn’t been there, not with him. She hadn’t seen, but she’d still had her tears in the night.
“Did you have a bad dream again Billy?”
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s ok. I just…”
“I know Billy, I miss her too.”
Her lip quivered, but she seemed to take hold of herself. Now came the silence, he hated it more than anything else. They’d lay here until eventually their bodies refused to wait for nourishment and then they would eat. The rest of the day, they’d sit silently waiting for Dad to get home so they could hear his silence as well. Tonight, he thought, tonight I’ll sneak in earlier; then she’ll see. Lori’s not gone, not forever, and she wants to come home.
“C’mon Billy, It’s time to get up. We have to be at the service in a couple of hours.”
Tonight, he thought, if I can get close enough, then she’ll see.