Her hand went to her mouth when ….

Edith stumbled as she got off the bus. She grabbed the rail to steady herself and made it safely to the footpath. The snow here was brown slush, thanks to a slight rise in the temperature and the boots of dozens of bus passengers all through the day. Nevertheless, Edith trod carefully in the waning light of dusk, carrying her over-large handbag in the crook of one arm, the other held out to balance herself.

She was supposed to have stayed home today. Her daughter’s harping tones rang in her ears as they had over the phone last night.

‘You can’t go out tomorrow, Mum, not with the weather like this.’

An empty jetty on a winter's evening

Edith had hummed a non-committal response, which appeared to satisfy the daughter, whose listening skills had never been up to par in Edith’s view. But Edith had to go out tomorrow.

The daughter should understand. Sad, that she didn’t, given … Edith sighed and filled the kettle for a cup of tea.

So here was Edith, wrapped up warmly, snow boots on, determined to do what she needed and wanted to do. Because no one else cared.

She looked ahead, searching out the warm yellow lights of the florist shop she always went to on this one day of the year. Pushing open the door into the steamy warmth, Edith caught the eye of the owner who smiled.

‘Terrible weather,’ the woman said. ‘Don’t often get it like this so late in winter. Not here, so near the sea.’

Edith agreed, and added she’d come for her order given a week ago over the phone, and her name.

The florist nodded. ‘In the cold store, although I could have saved electricity and put everything outside last night.’ She laughed, and turned towards the store, returning with a large bunch of mixed flowers.

Recently, Edith had begun to wonder how many airmiles those flowers stacked up, but while she tried hard to be good for the environment otherwise, this once a year ritual was an exception planet Earth would have to tolerate.

Paid for, thank yous on both sides done, Edith let herself out into the chill damp of the road. The footpath had been swept and she made her way down the hill and around the corner to the esplanade. Crossing the road, she walked along the seafront to the short jetty, head down in case of stray patches of ice.

When she reached the jetty, she looked up, shifting the flowers from one hand to the other. The cold jetty was empty, the thin layer of leftover snow which whitened the boards disturbed by few footprints. Save for one person halfway along one side, peering into the green water below. Edith squinted and her hand went to her mouth when she saw who it was.

The figure looked up, waved a bunch of flowers, and strode towards Edith, shaking her head.

‘I knew it, Mum.’ Her daughter embraced her, kissed her cheek. ‘I figured you’d come anyway, but just in case you didn’t …’ She glanced at her flowers. ‘So now Dad’ll have two of us remembering what he did that day.’

Edith blinked back a tear. ‘Thank you, darling,’ she murmured. ‘I’m so glad you haven’t forgotten.’

‘How could I?’ Her daughter pinched her lips together, tears brimming in her normally no-nonsense eyes. ‘If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here, would I?’

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3 thoughts on “Her hand went to her mouth when ….”

  1. It was an involuntary movement. Her hand went to her mouth in total shock when she saw the tall figure on the other side of the street.
    Surely not. Her father had been dead for five years. Why was she seeing him now? Not possible. Must be somebody who looks just like him.
    Sandra looked more closely. No, definitely her father – and he was waving, beckoning her to cross the street.
    Avoiding the oncoming cars, Sandra scurried to the other side and rushed breathlessly to the figure who embraced her in both arms.
    “Daddy, daddy,” she cried, “it’s not possible. You’ve been dead for five years now.”
    “It is, you know,” he said smiling kindly at her. “Look, my death was a mistake. However, it has taken all this time to sort it out with St Peter and the Powers That Be for me to come back to Earth.”
    “What on earth are you talking about,” said Sandra. “You mean there is a Heaven.”
    “And a Hell,” he responded. “Not that I’ve seen it – but I have heard about it from some of the others.”
    “Others? What others?”
    “The other souls who are floating around Heaven, on another plane from this one.”
    Sandra was flabbergasted at this revelation.
    “You mean we don’t just die and that’s it.”
    “Not at all.” Her father chuckled. “There is a whole other world out there with millions of people who have already lived here having a wonderful time.”
    Sandra was stunned, absolutely speechless and really didn’t know what to say next.
    Realising her dilemma, her father smiled and clasping her hands said:
    “Come on, I’ll show you if you like.”

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