Thursday, October 24, 2013

Prompt: Missing that which never was

John came home and looked for Mary, but she wasn’t in the house. He walked out to the garden, but she wasn’t kneeling among the roses or the riotous herbs. He continued past the raised vegetable beds and out the back gate. He knew where she would be.

The path wandered along the edge of the woods that split their land from Ben Walker’s. John and Ben played hide-and-seek in those woods before they were old enough to hunt, first with arrows, then with a couple of Remington .308s their Dads bought each of them the Christmas they turned 12. They could cross from one house to the other blindfolded—and had done so on plenty of dares. The cemetery lay in the meadow that cut their property lines from the Jensens’, who owned twice as much as John’s and Ben’s families combined.

Mary and Ben were college sweethearts from the second week of their freshman year. Ben brought her home at Thanksgiving to meet his folks and friends. John fell in love the first night they met. He pushed that deep inside for a long time.

Ben had a coffin in the cemetery, but he never came back from Iraq. John and Mary grieved together, comforted each other long distance with texts and cute cat pictures, and long midnight phone calls.

They got married on Christmas Eve, down at the JP. They walked over together, hand-in-hand, to tell Ben’s parents. Ms. Walker cried and hugged them both. Mr. Walker mumbled something that might have been congratulations and walked out back. He didn’t come back before they left. He had a heart attack that spring, while he was our plowing. Ms. Walker called Joe to help look for him when he didn’t come home for dinner. Joe found him sprawled in the tractor. He’d been dead for a few hours already. They buried him next to Ben.

Ms. Walker sold Joe and Mary their land and bought a condo in town. She came out ‘bout once a month to bring flowers for "her boys" and spruce up the cemetery. Joe always tried to make sure he kept it neat for when she came. There were a couple dozen stones in there, but she was the only one who visited.

Joe saw Mary sitting on the tree-trunk bench he’d cut up and installed for Ms. Walker a couple years back. He walked up and sat down next to her, not saying anything or rubbing up against her. He knew she’d come back to him when she was ready.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Maize

Time writing:
~25 minutes

October word count:


  1. Prompt: Missing that which never was

    Wilfred looked around the cottage one last time. The plank floors were swept clean, the whitewashed walls bare. The fireplace was empty and soot-free. The last table and chairs had been claimed by his brother. The sum total of his belongings now rested in the pack thrown over his left shoulder.

    There was no point in missing that which never was, he told himself sternly. But still, he could not help missing the life that could never be.

    “Wilf! You in there?” It was Mailey. She had never pressured him, though it was her life they were leaving too. An unlocked mage could not stay in the village, not with the Lord’s sniffers passing through each season. Wilfred would have broken their engagement, had Mailey wanted; he would have faced the locking, if she had preferred. A mage was not what she had signed up to marry.

    A mage was not what he had signed up to be. But even a locked mage, living in the village, would not have the happy family home he had always wanted. He remembered his granduncle, a lonely old man: his wife had left him when his powers had appeared and were locked, the village priest happy to annul a marriage that could never produce offspring.

    “Second thoughts?” Mailey leaned against his back, wrapping her arms around his waist.

    He shook his head. “I just... miss it.”

    She laughed lightly, so cheerful despite everything. “I understand.” And he could tell she did. They would make a new life, together, on the road; little mage children would run about their horses, instead of farm children about their fields.

    Time writing: ~30mins

    1. Beautiful! So poignant, and yet a charming ending note! Nice world building - not entirely clear, but enough to keep me from getting too hung up on locked vs unlocked - I was willing to hang in there and read on...