Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Spring (as in the season) (11/28/05)
TITLE: With Spring Come Crocuses
By Sandra Petersen
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From her rumpled blankets on the couch, Lori observed these things. The first tears of the morning trickled from her eyes.
Her husband Matt had meant well.
“If I can’t bring you flowers every day,” he told her as he programmed the golden screen saver on the computer desktop, “I can at least give you cyberflowers.”
Each morning she awoke to the sight of this gift and felt remorse. Weeks ago Matt had stopped pleading and demanding that she return to the marriage bed. She was relieved for his silence. At the same time, guilt pressed down upon her. Each morning, her heart condemned her with the same accusation: she had abandoned her role as his helpmeet. Any more sorrow or guilt and her heart would explode.
The floorboards creaked above her head. Despite her tears a part of her froze. Matt was awake and moving about in his morning routine.
Soon he would come downstairs and greet her with his customary “Love you. Did you sleep well?” and plant a warm kiss on her forehead.
She dreaded that moment and, simultaneously, looked forward to it. He would bring downstairs with him life, love, and faith, all of which died for her in September. Yet a small hidden part of her longed for his companionship and the life he brought.
She used a corner of her blanket to wipe away her tears.
“Love you. Did you sleep well?” Matt asked as he descended the stairs.
She shrank inside herself as he bent to kiss her forehead.
“Good morning,” she mumbled and turned her face to her pillow.
“Time to rise and shine, Lori,” he said with a smile.
She nodded, inwardly groaning at the effort that rising in itself would require.
“Today’s the day,” he informed her as he pulled the covers off her. “Get dressed now.”
Without a word, she brushed by him to go to the bathroom upstairs.
“How about some coffee?” he called after her.
“Mm hmm,” she muttered.
Minutes later, she returned to the living room and plopped down onto the couch.
“Not today, Lori,” Matt frowned. “It’s time to get up and get out. It’s beautiful outside.”
He pulled her to her feet and draped her jacket around her shoulders. She accepted the cup of coffee he offered and allowed herself to be led out the door to the car. Sometimes she hated Matt for pressing her when she just wanted to get through another day.
“Can’t we stay home?” she begged as Matt seated her in the car and belted her in.
“No,” he said, shutting her door and closing any further argument.
Getting behind the wheel, Matt started the car.
“You know where we’re going,” he reminded her. “I explained it last night.”
Lori shuddered. She didn’t want to make this visit. She wasn’t ready. Turning away from Matt, she stared at winter-bare branches of trees and shrubs that flashed by.
All was dead, even the foliage. She knew deep within that the trees and shrubs would soon bud in response to spring. She wondered if her heart would ever live again.
Matt slowed the car and entered the gates of a tiny cemetery. Lori shrank into the upholstery, resisting in her mind what she knew would follow.
Why should she want to be here in this forlorn place? She had buried this memory, hadn’t she? Surely God didn’t want her to continue to relive that week in September. Or was this His way of punishing her? She fought the flood of feelings that rushed through her mind.
Almost before she realized what had happened, she was standing before a small stone in a quiet corner of the cemetery.
“Remember, Lori,” Matt gently murmured. “We chose this cemetery so that we could remember her in our own way. Look.”
Light green spears and golden blooms dotted the ground before the stone. Crocuses.
She sank to her knees in the melting drift of snow and buried her face in her hands.
“God, forgive me! My baby,” she wept.
“Our baby,” Matt whispered as he knelt beside Lori and held her tightly.
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