With each heartfelt stroke of the pen or keystroke I find that some things just jump up and become something that I didn’t even know I had within myself. Like a memory of personal tribulation or great joy, even a story that was told to me by a friend or passing stranger that I have held onto deep within. I can also say that certain stories bump up against my pocket of happiness or my bubble of sadness even though I thought I had blown that bubble away.
So today I wrote a story for a writing prompt on Writer’s Digest.com (which I love!) that wanted us to write about a special anniversary. The story started as something I had once heard from a friend and ended up a story about two people I never met, but now consider friends. Yes, I cried.
So I thought I would share this with you all and please if it connects with you or someone you know please let me know. I would love to find out if others have the same experiences and if not, what are yours?
Thanks so much!!
In the Rearview Mirror
He pulled up in front of the old church as the whispering winds swirled the leaves up around the tall steeples on either side of the building. Martin walked in through the large oak doors and waited in the vestibule for Henry. He could see him standing there with the others holding a chip. They were patting him on the back and everyone was smiling. As the crowd made their way to the refreshment tables for coffee and desserts, Henry looked up and finally saw him then walked over and looked Martin carefully in the eye and said what he said every year.
“I thought you wouldn’t make it this year.”
“I told you I would come as long as you needed me even though I don’t agree with it”
“Ya Ya, I know. Look eight year chip”
“Nine year anniversary, are you ready?”
They walked out of the church together and down the steps to Martin’s car and they began the drive they made every year to Tahoe and back. As the familiar drive took them through the freeways, tree lined and mountainous roads they talked about Martin’s new baby and his job. Henry wanted to know everything that was happening to him. Oh the joy of a good life! Something that Henry knew deep down that he would never have but wouldn’t admit it.
Martin finally pulled into the familiar parking lot at Henry’s old watering hole, McP’s pub. They entered and sat at the bar. Martin ordered an ice tea and water for them as they sat in silence and remembered that night so many years ago. The drinks, the women, dancing and getting in the car for the long drive home, then the crash, the fire, the blood, the sirens, the chaos, the hospital, the regret and the enduring sadness that will forever linger.
“Are you ready for the drive back?” Martin said with an understanding look as Henry nodded.
Back in Martin’s car they drove in silence until they came upon the site where it all happened. Martin grabbed the flowers in the backseat and got out to lay them against the scarred tree as Henry stood with his hands folded in front of him. They stood in silent comradeship. Martin then walked back to the car and got in while Henry took a minute more then followed him for the long ride home.
“Just drop me back at the church man,” Henry said as they drove into town. “I’m going to need another meeting.”
“Are you sure?” Martin asked with a heartbroken break in his voice. “You need to forgive yourself, it’s not your fault she died.”
“That’s what they keep saying but I was driving. I am just glad you were ok.” Henry was out of the car now and walking up the church steps towards the oak doors. As Martin drove away, he looked in the rearview mirror at the old abandoned church to see his friend vanish into thin air.