A year went by without Rupert mentioning anything, but that didn’t mean he stopped thinking about it. You saw the references in his every move. In his hobby, his obsession, most especially.
“That’s the last of them, I think,” he’d said, laying golden roses on the kitchen table.
You’d looked out the window to the bush still in bloom. You didn’t question; it’s his garden, after all; but you watched the dozens ripening at summer’s end and knew why he refused to clip them.
He had to break her favourite cup for either of you to talk about it. An accident wasn’t always a bad thing, you supposed. You fetched the kintsugi kit, warmed up the gold, and set to fixing the cracked pottery at the worn oak sidebar.
“Why bother?” he said, barricaded behind his newsfeed and the cold kitchen air.
A hot rush flooded your veins and you had to stop your task. Delicate work does not marry with temper. Breathing through your nose, you watched him scrolling, ignorant of his remark’s effect. Or uncaring. You returned to work.
You finished the cup, making new from old, binding the fractured pieces with precious metal. He stood in the doorway, but spun to leave when you caught him watching.
“Wait,” you called.
He ran to his garden.
You found him yanking weeds barehand, crushed leaves in a pile beside the path. September formed clouds of fog on your outward breath.
“She’s gone, Rupert, but I won’t forget her,” you said.
He paused, then reached for another intruder. “Who says I’ve forgotten?”
“Well, the way you show it isn’t exactly normal.”
He rounded on you then, brown eyes wide and mouth a set line. “Normal? How can this—How can anything be normal, Hetty?” He stood, towering over you, closer than you’d been in months. “Daisy is gone. Our daughter is gone. Fixing a broken cup isn’t going to bring her back.”
You set your hands on your hips. “It was her favourite. Of course I was going to fix it. Anyway, you’re holding on to hope the same as me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He turned away.
“Why’d you leave the roses, Rupert, if not for Daisy? Some sort of sublunary offering? The last blooms were always her favourite, too.”
He ignored you.
You laughed; sardonic, bitter. “You know, she said she hoped we’d remember her in the best ways. That we’d grow old together in love and imagine that she’ll do the same.” Yet your once bright passion together had dimmed. No parent should have to lose their child. A universal truth.
You stepped up to him, hand outstretched. “This can’t continue, Rupert. She might never be coming back, but…” You touch his back. “We have to go on.”
He let you stroke his back, his shoulders. You leaned in to press against him. “Do you still love me?” you whispered.
“Yes,” he whispered back.
He turned, and in his hand he held a single, white flower. “However she came in to our lives, and however she left… wherever she is now, I—”
Your hand closed around his. “Let’s just leave a little patch in the yard, this year.”
And the daisies nodded in the wind.
This story was the response to a selection of constrained writing prompts on Reddit/WritingPrompts/SmashEmUpSunday/MadLibsVI. The constraints (words, sentences, and themes) were each chosen by different members of the community, blind to the others’—I love the challenge of this! Sometimes things fall into place when writing, even when you are asked to do things you’re unfamiliar with. I don’t often write in 2nd person POV, for example (using ‘you’ to address the reader). But that’s the beauty of writing challenges. It opens you up to new ideas and forms.
Hope you enjoyed the read… perhaps you could guess what the other constraints may have been! 🙂