I glare at the back of yet another person who has pushed their way past me, not even bothering to say “Pardon me.”
Manners are so nonexistent these days.
“Hey!” I hear a tiny voice cry out, interrupting my train of thought. “Give it back!”
“Loreen,” I scold my daughter. “Keep your voice down.”
I take the doll from my son’s hands. “Andrew, we don’t take things from our sister, alright?”
“Please,” I speak to both of them. “be quiet and play together nicely.”
It’s hard enough keeping them in line at home— Home, I don’t have one of those now. It’s difficult to say the least keeping them grounded, I knew it was a bad idea to bring them on the train, surely they would disrupt everyone, but how else was I supposed to get away from the memories? I couldn’t walk to the country from London.
Another person brushed past me without apologizing for bumping into me. This seat is meant for two people, and with my kids and I, there is hardly any room for us all, I stuck out in the aisle slightly. I suppose it's mostly my fault I keep getting jostled, I am the one in the aisle, but the least people could do was mumble an apology.
I recline into the hard seat, seeking solace and serenity where there is none to be found, and I sigh, fighting back tears. I was leaving London behind. My home that was no longer mine, my memories, my friends, my husband’s grave. I vowed I would come back and visit, but I spent the last of what little money I had on these train tickets.
The train jolts and starts down the tracks.
My life was pulled to a screeching stop when he died. I hate that I'm moving forward.
What else can I do? Wallowing here isn’t bringing him back.
I push all the thoughts out of my mind and instead I focus on my children. I stroke Loreen’s dirty blonde hair while she plays with her doll. I know that they can be a handful, but there is nothing I love more than my children right now. They are what is left of my little broken family.
Andrew stares out the window and watches as the people wave goodbye to their loved ones. There is no one for him to wave to.
It’s favorable and not. If he had waved, that meant there was something to miss, something to hold onto when there was nothing here. But at the same time there was also something to miss. Something about longing for another person was exhilarating.
You could wait for them as the long hours tore you apart. The image of them would occupy your mind for days on end. And then they would come back to you every time. There would be hugs and tears and possibly kisses.
He was supposed to come back every time. Until the person that showed up on our doorstep held the flag and a somber expression.
I took one look at the soldier's face and broke down in tears. But my sadness couldn’t last forever. At least physically. Emotionally I would never be the same. My other half had died in the trenches. His body was blown to bits. They couldn’t bring him home.
No, I can’t think. Thinking brings emotion. I can’t cry on the train.
But I do anyway.
Andrew looks over. He is only ten, but he is the best little boy I could ever ask for. He looks so much like his father. He puts a hand on my shoulder. “It’s alright mama.” He says. “We’re going to see Nana and Papa, you don’t have to cry.”
But I do. I have to cry. And for some reason his words make me sob harder. I reach over and hug him. “Oh Andrew,” I say through my tears. “Your father loved you so much. I hope you know that.”
“I do. He says simply “Daddy loved you to.”
How wonderful the mind of a child truly is. Their voices of hope and spirit bring light to all of us even in the darkest times. I will treasure the simplicity of his statement for as long as I live. I know my husband loved me more than the sun, moon, stars, and sky. He told me so every single letter, and every single time he left for the war.
The train pressed onwards and eventually the sun dipped below the horizon.
My eyes closed and my children cuddled close.
The train stopped as did my rest. I looked awful, or I assumed so. We had been on the train for hours. I straightened my dress and combed through my hair braiding it back.
“Come.” I reached for our luggage and heaved it off the overhead shelf. I motioned for my children to follow me and they did so obediently.
My parents would be there at the station to take us to their farm house. The old wood and the peeling paint I knew so well from my childhood would now be a part of my children’s lives.
I met my husband here in this town and we moved to London after being married. My hope was the good memories here would stay and chase out the bad ones from the dirty cobblestone streets. I hated saying goodbye every time he left. I begged him to stay, but he was a duty oriented man. He loved his family, but also his pride and honor. He died in service and I know it was a great honor. But I can’t help but be a bit resentful.
I stumbled off the train my children behind me and I fell into the arms of my father. I felt like a little girl again.
Loreen would never be able to do this.
I push my thoughts away again. I can’t think about him right now. My mother fusses over her grandchildren as my father loads our luggage into the back of the rented coach. We all pile in. Loreen and Andrew look so happy. The voices exuberant and cheerful as they animatedly explain the train ride to my mother as she nods along.
My father puts an arm around me and I lean into the affection.
The ride to the farm house is short but not short enough to walk. My children point at the wildflowers and the fields of lavender.
“Mama!” I hear Loreen shout. I look over fearing something is wrong.
“What is it?” I ask, my breath quickening.
“Look! Look at the piglets!” She cries with mirth
I can’t help the burst of laughter that escapes my lips. “Yes, Loreen, those are piglets. They are very cute aren't they?”
“Mama I love them!” Children were so innocent, oblivious to the pains and sorrows of the world around them. Seeing the good and perfection in every little thing. Adulthood is not like that. There is much more sorrow than anyone should know, but at the same time little rays of sun shine through the overcast sky.
“They’re a few weeks old.” My own mother chuckles. “She can name one if she would like.”
“I would love that!” Loreen exclaims. “I want to name one . . . Marie! Like my best friend back home. Her eyes kind of look like a pig’s.”
Another giggle escapes my lips at my daughter’s bluntness. I know I had been complaining about bad manners earlier, but I could let this particular moment slip. She looked so content I didn’t want to mess that up.
Ecstasy was such a novelty nowadays.
I got out of the coach and led my children to the upstairs room where we would be staying. I set the bags down and told them to run along and see if their grandparents needed help with any chores. I smiled as they ran outside to the pigs a moment later, my mother close behind.
There was a knock on the door frame and my father walked in. “I’m sorry dear.” He said. “I know how much you loved him.”
“Thank you.” I say softly. I can’t turn around and look at him. I don’t want him to see the quiet tears trailing down my cheeks.
After I hear him leave, I sigh. I walk down the stairs myself, and out to the lavender pasture.
I wade through the fields, thick with flowers. The scent hits my nose so hard it almost gives me a headache but I have to get to the hill in the center of the field. Upon that hill is a tree. And engraved upon that tree are initials. Very special initials.
I reach the crest of the hill and as soon as my finger tips touch the bark I cave in on myself and I start to cry. I can feel his initials right next to mine, the heart around them both.
A wave of memories hits me and I continue to cry. I never had the luxury of grieving in London. I had to pack our things and move us here. Life was so busy up in the city, but out here I have all the time in the world. I'm done pushing my thoughts away.
I weep for hours. The sun is at the top of the sky when my tears finally run out. I stare out at the field of lavender. I danced through those fields as a child. I read under this tree as a teenager. I kissed my husband under this tree.
My life replays before my eyes. This lavender means so much to me right now. I pick one of the flowers and tuck it behind my ear.
I will keep him with me.
His memory and mine among the lavender.
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So sweet and real and just amazing rich times and an amazing beautiful story. Great job
Beautiful and so real! I loved it!
Thank You Loxie!