"On the Wall"
By Cagney Bennett
She had been gone a few weeks now. The only thing I felt was emptiness. And I think the wind felt the same. It whipped around me, through me. Biting my cheeks and lips. Telling me it was going to rain. I had never felt this cold before. And alone.
Alone, a word I associated to old people. I didn't think I'd be that alone.
It was probably a month before I could go through her things. Her house, which still smelled like her, was like a dead body. I didn't want to go near it, afraid of what I might find. But that morning, I took a deep breath, and walked quickly to her house. I was only a few blocks away. I had decided to stay in a hotel for now. How could I handle the ghosts of her memories floating the hallways? When I entered the house, I turned on all the lights. I wanted to scare her ghosts away.
I tread carefully into the living room. I had been in this house millions of times, yet, I felt hesitant to touch anything. The only picture of her sat on an end table. I tried not to look at it, but I couldn't help myself. I squatted down and looked at it face to face.
There was no words to tell her. To describe how it felt to be alone. But maybe she already knew. She had only me for twenty years. And I hadn't always been wonderful company. On that thought, I stood up quickly. I didn't want to think about her pain anymore. I walked out of the room.
When I heard a crash and glass breaking, I screamed. But, it was only the picture of her. I must have knocked it or something else... For a second, I stood there, staring. Then, I bent and started to pick up the pieces of glass. The glass was shattered and the frame bent. I started to take the picture out of the frame with the intent of putting it another. But another picture was behind the picture of my mother. A man, standing proud in uniform and smiling at the camera. A man..maybe my mother wasn't always alone.
For a second, I grasped something in my memory. A chance for understanding. This wasn't the first time I had found this picture. In a closet along with musty envelopes. Envelopes addressed to my mother. But I was only seven years, I didn't understand. I was proud of my discovery and showed the picture and letters to my mother. My mother said she threw them out. "Trash...pure trash." Was there resentment in her voice? I could no longer remember the sound.
I turned the picture over and there, in my mother's print, was the man's name. John Hull. My mother had never mentioned that name. Or any name at all. It had always been just me and her. My Momma.
"You are loved, always will be. Please don't forget that."
"I know you love me, Momma." She smiled to herself.
"We'll be watching you from up there. We love you very much."
I never thought to ask who We were before she closed her eyes for the last time. I sat there looking at that picture for a long time before deciding what to do.
I made sure to get a window seat on the plane. I always enjoyed looking over the tiny land as we rise higher and higher. The airport wasn't crowded so, I made my way quickly out of there. I hadn't brought much, but I had forgotten an umbrella. It was drizzling when I walked outside. I stepped slowly, almost dreading what I had to do. In the airport, I had picked up some flowers. Not knowing what he would want with flowers, I carried them with hope.
When I arrived, there was no one else around. I looked for his name in the book, carefully. What if it wasn't there? But it was there in thick black ink, Hull, John. I took several deep breaths and felt the first drops of rain. I started to march up the long hill and the tears gathered in my eyes. The butterflies in my stomach intensified. I almost turned back. But it was too late now, I was here.
I put my hand on the smooth rock of the soaring wall. I traced his name, surrounded by thousands of others. I set the flowers down, now wet from my tears and the rain. But they looked beautiful. I laid my forehead on the wall and let my tears glide over his name. I wished I had known him. But the pride for him and what he had done was too strong and I couldn't feel regret.
I kissed the letters engraved on the wet marble. And said good-bye to his name on the wall.
Now if you have read down this far, you can see that my daughter is a great writer. A few years ago, I wrote a song called, "Daddy". I sent Cagney the lyrics to let her read them. About an hour later, she sends me back this wonderful story. Listen to the song if you would like. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.
Click on the link to hear "Daddy".
I'm Phil Bennett. My blog details my songwriting journey and introduces you to the amazing people I meet along my path to my ultimate dream.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
"On the Wall" a short story by Cagney Bennett
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