Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: The Oak Grove
By Pamela Kliewer
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Jimmy stands on the ground laughing at me as I arch back and forth under the tree. My skirt flies out behind me, then wraps around my legs… I love the feel of freedom…
The swing stops. I leap from it, taking off at a dead run. “Bet you can’t catch me!”
I don’t have to look back to know that Jimmy is hot on my tail.
I feel his hand grip my arm. His gentle strength thrills me.
He turns me to look at him… his eyes mesmerizing.
I put my finger to his lips, my eyes locked with his.
“Laurie,” he whispers, “please let me finish. I love you. I have for a long time. I want you to promise me you’ll be my wife when I finish school.”
Startled, I look down to see the urn and its contents strewn on the floor.
Dropping to my knees, I begin gathering the bits and pieces of glass… the ashes crumble in my hands as I try to pick them up…
I had plans to scatter these ashes in the oak grove today… throwing all my memories to the wind…
As I come in from school I stop at the hall table and see a letter from Jimmy.
I take it outside to the oak grove, leaning against our favorite tree, as I tear it open.
Jimmy’s letter makes me laugh, cry, sing and dance. To be this loved… oh…
“Jimmy Matthews, I can’t wait to be your wife!” I yell in the gathering dusk…
As I continue to try and gather up the ashes, my hands turn black from the effort…
Jimmy stands in our living room, black soot smeared across his face.
“Hey Jimmy, you really get into your work don’t you?” I tease, as I take a hankie out of my skirt pocket and try to wipe the ash of his face. “Thanks for cleaning out the fireplace for me and Mama. With Daddy being off to war in Germany, it’s hard...”
“Aw, shucks, Laurie, it’s no problem. I’m glad to help. It’s sure nice being here with you on my Christmas break.”
His eyes intent on my face, his gaze holds mine. He leans forward…
I sob when I see a bit of blue ribbon I used to tie around Jimmy’s letters…
“This ribbon reminded me of your eyes, Laurie,” his letter said. “Use it to tie around my letters and when we get married, you can put the letters in a special box I’m making for you, and wear the ribbon in your hair on our wedding day…”
“Jimmy! Oh Jimmy! Why?” My body shakes with sobs. I wrap my arms around myself, feeling I’ll fall apart at any moment if I don’t get this mess of ashes cleaned up and scattered out in the grove. My life with Jimmy has gone up in ashes, and any remnants of what we shared needs to blow off in the wind. I even burned the swing.
I finally get the mess cleaned up as best I can, putting it all in a wastebasket. I’m thankful to be alone in my task. Mama has gone off to the Ladies’ Aid Society to roll bandages, and Daddy is still in Germany…
Bundling up, I step outside. The wind is bitterly cold. Perfect for my task.
I hold the trash can up in the howling wind, yelling as I do, my voice catching on the wind and on my sobs.
“Jimmy, I have loved you since I was thirteen years old. I will love you until I die. There will never be anyone else for me, Jimmy! No one! But apparently, I wasn’t enough for you… our love wasn’t true blue like you always signed your letters… I want to wish you well with your wife, but I can’t Jimmy, I just can’t… not yet… Good bye, forever…”
As I see the last bit of ash fly up in the air, a patch of blue peeks through the clouds, offering me hope for a brighter tomorrow…
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