Thanks to Crispina Kemp for the writing prompt, taken from Hare and Adder.
A memory nagged at Ellen’s brain. Many memories did, but this one was particularly insistent. Something she had done a long time ago. Something important to the here and now.
She spent the afternoon in the garden, poking about the overgrown vegetable beds, harvesting the last of the overblown courgettes, the too-long runner beans.
All the while the memory pulled and teased. Damn this growing old business. She should relax, not worry about it. It would come to her in time.
Her dinner eaten – a piece of poached salmon supposedly good for the brain and salad, good for everything else – Ellen took to the sofa and flicked through the Apps her grandson had kindly installed. All evening, lost in Sleepless in Seattle, she didn’t wonder what it was she was supposed to remember. Until, as she was about to turn the television off, a trailer for an even older movie flickered on the screen. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The nagging hint of memory returned. Ellen shook her head and wandered to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
She stretched out beneath the sheet, closed her eyes. Opened them into the semi-darkness. Nowhere was ever truly dark these days. Not like …
The last evening, they had seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s and then driven out into the countryside in his borrowed father’s car. A warm night, cloudy. And dark. He had turned the car light on briefly, to admire her, he said, and her breathing had quickened further as she savoured his desire.
With an energy hauled from younger days, Ellen hoisted herself up, threw back the sheet and slipped her feet into her slippers. Switching on the bedroom light, she fetched the stool from the bathroom, opened the far door of the wall-length wardrobe which Harold built when they moved to this house, and placed the stool in the opening. She stretched, leaning forward, her old fingers scrabbling for the box tucked into the back corner. She teased it out, her pulse racing.
Of course. This was what she had to do, before it was too late. She should have rid herself of these memories before now … The box tumbled to the bedroom carpet, the contents spilled out from their silk covering. Ellen stepped off the stool, bumping against the wardrobe door, her legs shaking and her head light. She stooped to the floor, fingering the postcards.
They looked much as they had the day she wrapped them: scenes from places Ellen would never visit, postmarks from cities with unpronounceable names, his one sentence protestations of love and longing. She had waited for the post to get to them before her parents did, kept them in the box in her girlhood bedroom, pored over them daily envisaging a glorious future.
Until they stopped coming, after her last letter to him. The letter full of joy, hope – expectation. She had wrapped the cards the day she understood he would never return to her. The day she accepted the young, persistent Harold’s third stuttered proposal of marriage.
Follow the daily writing prompt on Facebook.
Find Cheryl’s flash fiction and short stories, including audio versions of some, here!