Excerpt #3

[Sometimes the only good thing to come out of finding myself in a strange emotional state is the ability to write myself out of it. – L]

It was true that Mary had been preoccupied for the better part of the day. She didn’t always feel like this, and there had been no particular event to trigger it, this nagging feeling of something amiss. But today, her emotions kept floating away, toward him–the color of his eyes, the smell of his hair, how good it felt to hold him. Except today….today she feared she was losing a piece of her mind. This was the day she realized that she could no longer precisely remember what he looked like.

Her grief at this realization plunged her deeper into despair. She struggled with herself, desperate to recall even the most vague detail, only to find her memories clouded and hazy with time and distance. She remembered at last the presence of a small photograph which once had been one of her most cherished possessions, but was now tucked away into some keepsake box or other, as if by hiding it Mary might also have put her own grief away and begun to move forward. It suddenly became terribly important to lay her eyes onto that small cherished image once more, now that her memory seemed to be failing her.

She even believed she knew exactly where to look, and hurried away to her bedroom where a stack of small boxes rested on the floor in the dim corner furthest from the lamp. Each box was opened and quickly searched, but no photograph was revealed. What began as a small ray of hope to pierce the ever-expanding gloom in her heart soon became an unyielding need, as search after search failed to produce the one thing Mary now needed above all else. Something like terror clutched at her heart, making it race in her chest and forcing the air out of her lungs. It was bad enough that she had forgotten his face; to forget where the dreaded photo had been stored away was far worse. It was as if she needed that small piece of paper to prove he had even existed at all.

Tears sprang in her eyes as Mary tore the house apart, searching every space she could reach, biting the insides of her cheeks to keep from screaming out his name, as if she could call him back from the grave. She finally found the object of her search in the library, loosened from between the pages of a book of poetry she had knocked to the floor in her frustration. Why she had chosen this particular place to hold such an obviously important item escaped her comprehension for the moment, her whole being now focused on the delicate slip of paper that held the image Mary had fought so hard to recall in her mind. Her muscles relaxed as she reminded herself of the brightness in his eyes, the beautiful curls in his hair, the soft, round, innocent face that looked back on hers from another time and place.

“My beautiful, my darling boy,” she whispered softly, cradling the photograph in her hands as silent tears streamed down her cheeks. “My sweetest son. I shall not forget your face again.”