Okay, just finished this. Have NO idea if it's any good or not, and NO idea of where to publish it. Thoughts, anyone?
I’m so excited! Today I’ll see my boys again. It’s been over two years. Although I have to admit, it doesn’t seem like that long. Time flies by here. It’s a whole different concept from what I’m used to. I don’t know exactly what time they’ll arrive—Jeffrey and Scott. But I know it will be today.
I wonder how they’ll have changed. They’ll be big boys now. Scotty was just two the last time I saw him, and Jeff was going on four. They’d both been terrified that evening just a few days before Christmas. Seeing their dad like that, screaming at the top of his lungs, his face mottled with fury, eyes wild and grotesque. Thinking about it now, I still shudder. I’d never been so afraid of anyone in my life.
I hadn’t wanted to leave the boys, but what choice did I have?
I heard a soft ping, and a panel came to life on my wall. Judy, her white-gold hair shining about her shoulders, gave me a radiant smile. “I know it’s a special day for you, Mary,” she said. “But you still have your therapy appointment.” Her turquoise eyes danced. “You’re late.”
“Oh, my Lord!” I jumped up from the white silk chair where I’d been resting.
Judy’s smile widened. “The Lord isn’t the one waiting for you. I am. See you directly.”
“Yes, of course,” I mumbled, glad my therapist had a sense of humor. “I’ll be right there.”
“So, I know this is a happy day for you,” Judy said, crossing her silk-clad leg and reaching for a handful of chocolate-covered peanuts on her desk. Amazing that she always looked so immaculate. Every time I saw her, she was snacking on chocolate. Snickers bars, brownies, M&Ms. Yet, her white silk pant suit looked like it had just come from the dry cleaners.
I nodded, not even trying to hold back my grin. “I can hardly wait to see them!”
“And I know they’ll be happy to see their mother, as well.” Judy munched on the chocolate peanuts. “You want some?” She held out the candy dish.
“No, thanks. I’m more of a pepperoni pizza kind of girl.” I reached for a slice on the marble coffee table in front of me. It was New York-style—gooey and cheesy and scrumptious. We were a long way from Ray’s Pizza in New York City, but you could’ve fooled me. Taking a bite, I savored it, then said, “So, Judy…what will they remember about that night? I mean…they were so little. Will they have a lot of trauma?”
Judy’s smile disappeared, and her eyes took on a somber look. “Your boys have been through a rough time these past two years, Mary. They’ve been without their mother, and we both know what life was like with their dad. The only stable influences they’ve had since you left were your parents. And David did everything he could to try to sabotage that.”
I nodded. I knew that. But what I couldn’t understand was why I didn’t hate him anymore. Why hate seemed to have vanished from my being. It hadn’t happened over night like most people think. It had taken quite some time—how much, I wasn’t sure. But one day I woke up, and the hatred and anger were gone. Now, I only pitied David…for throwing it all away. For having everything—a loving wife and two beautiful sons—and letting it go. Destroying us in the process.
“I know that,” I said. “But what about today? You know what I’m talking about. The trauma of…” I couldn’t say it. I’d already seen what was going to happen, and it wouldn’t be pretty. Yet, it wouldn’t be the tragedy everyone would be discussing in the next weeks. But I worried about my parents. My poor parents. They’d been through so much.
“They won’t remember any of it,” Judy said, her eyes kind. “They’ll see their mommy and everything will be right with their world.”
Tears blurred my vision, and I put down my slice of pizza, my appetite gone. “And with mine.”
Judy got up from her chair and brushed imaginary chocolate off her pristine suit jacket. “Come, Mary. It’s time.”
Together, Judy and I strolled through cobblestone streets to the open-air cathedral. Another beautiful day with skies of cerulean blue dotted with wisps of milky clouds. A light breeze carried the perfume of hundreds of exotic flowers, enveloping my senses. The air felt like a kiss on my skin. The sun beamed down through a circle cut into the top of the cathedral, sending dazzling prisms of light dancing around us.
And then I heard their sweet voices.
“Mommy! It’s Mommy, Scotty!”
My darling Jeff. My firstborn.
It was followed by Scotty’s little boy soprano, “Mommy, Mommy!”
I saw them. Two little boys, six and four, tousled-haired and bright-eyed, running toward me. Older by two years, but just as sweet-faced as I remembered. I knelt and held out my arms. Laughing and crying out in excitement, they flung themselves against me, almost knocking me over. I nestled my two little angels to my breast, tears streaming down my face.
I inhaled their little boy scents, felt their hearts beating against me. “It’s okay, now, sweethearts. We’re together now.” I kissed their shiny faces, their noses, their wispy eyelashes. “All is well.”
Tears streamed down Harold’s face as the two small, white coffins were lowered into the freshly-dug graves. Betty held his hand, silently saying her final goodbye to their young grandsons. Her eyes were dry.
“They’re with Mary now,” Harold said, giving her hand a squeeze. “We have to take comfort in that.”
Betty nodded, but she couldn’t reply. She didn’t know if she’d ever be able to speak again. The hatred inside her felt like a raging animal. She wished David hadn’t died, too, because her greatest desire right now was to kill him with her bare hands.
What do you do with hatred like this, she wondered. How can you survive with it gnawing inside you? The monster had murdered her daughter two years ago…of course he had—they just hadn’t found enough evidence to charge him with it. And now…because of a custody battle where it was almost for certain that the boys would come to live with their maternal grandparents, he’d done the unspeakable, killing them in their sleep and then, taking his own life–the bastard–depriving her of clawing his hateful eyes out with her fingernails.
Betty turned away from the graves, and headed to their car. Her stomach churned with the bile of hate and the need for vengeance. Turn to your faith, Harold had told her. Faith? What faith? What kind of God would allow such a thing to happen?
Halfway to the car, the sun emerged from the clouds, sending prisms of light dancing off the chrome of the car. Betty stopped in her tracks as the sun’s warmth encased her. It was then that she heard the voices.
Grandma, Grandma! We love you!
Don’t cry, Grandma. We’re with Mommy now.
That’s when Betty realized she was crying. She hadn’t been able to cry since she’d first heard the devastating news. In her mind’s eye, she saw Jeffy’s gap-toothed grin and Scotty’s bright blue eyes and the sweet little cleft in his chin.
“Honey, are you okay?” Harold asked hesitantly, coming up behind her and placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.
If he’d asked that two minutes ago, she would’ve felt compelled to hit him.
Mom, we’re okay.
Betty started. That was Mary’s voice!
We’re together. You’ve got to let us go.
Her voice trailed away, growing fainter.
Bye, Grandma. We love you.
The voices were gone, replaced by only the sound of the breeze rustling through the cherry trees planted throughout the cemetery. Betty turned to her husband, not even attempting to wipe away her tears. She nodded. “I’m not okay,” she whispered. “But I will be.”
In Memory of Susan, Braden and Charlie Powell