Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Friend (11/02/17)
- TITLE: Life Goes On
By JC Hummel
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The afternoon sun hung low in the autumn sky and any residual heat of late summer had left weeks ago. She shuttered as the temperature cooled but when she leaned over to turn the knob for heat she was greeted with a sorry excuse for warm air. It was then her husband’s words of warning popped into her head, “Hon, you should let me take your car in for a service before the weather gets cold.”
“Oh yes — now I remember,” she said recalling that she had only been half listening during their conversation. Her attention had been mostly focused on trying to catch a couple of slipped stitches on the baby blanket she was knitting for their new grand baby. “I’m so busy over the next few weeks and need the car — maybe next month,” she said. That had been two months ago.
Thankfully the traffic was moving well and she was enjoying the drive. Spruces stood steadfast along the highway next to almost-bare elm trees gently swaying and letting go of the last traces of leaves. Bursts of contrasting purples and golds scattered throughout the countryside amidst the green farm fields strewn with silos and red barns.
The exit took her onto a two lane country road where a grand total of two cars passed her on the way. She drove into town, glancing at the familiar brick buildings, one of them being her old high school. Stafford Hills was no longer home, it hadn't been for decades. Her parents were long dead and her sister had moved to Florida years ago. The only reason she came back was to visit Ginny. She used to come once a month, but she and Charlie had experienced health issues over the last few years, and now the visits were only three times a year: Ginny’s birthday, Christmas and the anniversary of her death.
Ingrid parked her car in the adjacent church parking lot, hopped out and grabbed her winter coat and fresh flowers from the backseat. The imposing iron gates of the cemetery were still open and she breathed a sigh of relief that she wasn't too late. Hurrying through the entrance and up the path, she passed some people on their way out.
Soon she was at Ginny’s grave, a black marble rectangle with gold writing: Virginia Louise Jones born 1952 Died 1972.
Her friend had fought a good fight, but leukemia was a tough sparring partner. For a while everyone thought she would make it, but she died two months before Ingrid and Charlie’s wedding.
“Sorry I’m late Ginny,” she said as she unwrapped the flowers and put them in the vase. “Happy Birthday. You’re officially a senior citizen now. Welcome to the club. Charlie is finally thinking of retiring next year, so we can go on some of those trips I’ve been dreaming about.” She went over to the other side of the grave and removed some dried brown leaves. “We have a new granddaughter, Sophie Rose. She’s as cute as pie, I wish you could see her. Oh, and they went and put up that huge movie theatre in town, but I guess that’s progress for you.”
The visitor bell rang and she looked at her watch. “That’s my cue to go. I love you sweetie, I’ll try and spend more time with you when I’m here at Christmas.” She kissed the tips of her fingers and then placed them on the marble headstone.
She walked away from the grave with a heavy heart. It never got easier even after forty-five years and she wished her dear friend was here to see her children and grandchildren. Part of her felt guilty that she had experienced so many wonderful things in life that Ginny didn’t. How nice it would have been to see her as a wife and mother. Ingrid felt sad for what could have been. “God’s ways are not our ways,” she remembered her saying a few days before her death. “Wise words, my friend. Thank you for reminding me,” Ingrid said smiling as she walked out the iron gates.
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