On Saturday, I went to Borders and “invested” in a Writers Digest writing kit. Among other things, it includes cards that each list writing prompts to free one’s creativity. Today, I am going to try the first of the prompts. The remainder of this blog will be a short story written as a result of one of the cards:
“The dishes won’t wash themselves, I suppose,” Diana mumbled aloud to herself. There was no longer anyone else to hear her. She missed the sound of her own voice since her husband, Jacob, died a month ago.
Diana lifted herself with effort from the chair in the rec room where Jacob spent almost every evening watching the news after dinner. Tears streaked her young cheeks that no longer wore the sun-kissed pink hue of youth and vitality. She now wore her shoulder-length blond curls in a messy ponytail every day, instead of flying free and wild the way her husband preferred. She didn’t have the strength these days to care about her appearance.
A week’s worth of dirty dishes sat in the sink, untouched. They amounted to most people’s one day of dishes, since Diana ate alone these days, and only on the very rare occasion that she even had an appetite. But her friends and family and even a few complete strangers had told her it was important to not shut down completely, to continue with everyday tasks. They said it would make her feel better, recover faster.
Diana turned on the hot water tap and let it run until the water coming out was hot enough. She filled the sink, watching the soap bubble up into a cleansing froth. In her haze, Diana noticed a red balloon resting in the low-hanging branches of the evergreen tree outside the kitchen window. She thought one of the neighborhood kids must have been playing with it and lost track.
Diana continued scrubbing the caked-on food from the plates without a second thought to the balloon until the sunlight caught it just right to reveal there was something inside of it. Diana rinsed the soap off her hands and dried them on the red kitchen towel hanging on the stove handle.
She opened the door that led from the kitchen to the backyard and retrieved the balloon. She took it inside and popped it, revealing a note written in her husband’s handwriting. In a more conscious state, Diana might have thought this odd, but her misery and depression forced her mind into a zone that didn’t bother to question the event.
“My dearest Diana,” the note began, “I don’t know if this note will find you, but I believe if it’s meant to, it will. Last night, I dreamt of an accident. I was driving on a dark, deserted road lined by trees. It was on a steep hill and had sharp curves. In the dream, I didn’t slow enough around one of the curves and the car flew off the road and into a tree. I didn’t make it. I saw you at my funeral. I saw you spending years of your life, wasted, in mourning over me. I know it was just a dream, but there was something about it that felt very real. I didn’t want to tell you about it because I didn’t want to worry you. Instead, I wrote this note, inserted it into a red balloon (your favorite color) and let it go. I thought, if fate saw fit to bring it back to you, then so be it. If I was still alive, we could laugh about my paranoia. And if not, it could give you comfort. Diana, I want you to know that I loved you with all my heart and soul. Wherever I am now, I still love you. And I hope you will always love me. But if I’m gone, then I want you to move me to the back of your heart and live your life to the fullest, in happiness. You deserve it. It’s what I want for you. Love, Jacob.”
Diana finished reading and crumpled to the kitchen floor in a new bout of hysterical crying. She sat there for several hours, but when the tears subsided, she re-read the note from her beloved husband who lost his life far too soon. And she felt a weight lift from her shoulders at that moment. And she smiled.
The next morning, Diana took a blanket and a book and walked to a nearby park. She laid the blanket out on the lush green summer grass, made herself comfortable and opened the book to read.
“Diana?” The voice pulled Diana from the pages of the novel. She looked up and saw her friend Debbie. “You look radiant!”