Sad Fiction Inspirational

This story contains sensitive content


 Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep. Maya rolled over and flipped off the alarm. Then she slid out of bed and into her day clothes, skipping the shoes. Ever since their mother died three years ago, their father didn’t care much where they went or what they did. She wasn’t worried about waking her brother, Gilbert, who shared the room with her, because she knew his bed was empty. 

The last two Tuesdays Maya had seen Gilbert rise at five in the morning and sneak out of their small three room house only to be back in time for breakfast and pretend that nothing had happened. Today she was going to follow him and find out once and for all. She had set her alarm for 5:10 and hoped that would work.

Quietly she left the house. She looked around and spotted a figure leaving Rose Gardener’s house; the old lady that lived next door. It was definitely not Ms. Gardener so it must be Gilbert. When she spotted a package in his hands, her nine-year-old imagination took flight. It could be anything!

The figure began walking farther away from the two houses and toward town. She crept after him, keeping to the shadows.

Gilbert was six years older than Maya and practically kept the family going but, of course, she didn’t know this and was thoroughly convinced that he was up to mischief.

After a little while of walking she began to wonder if it was indeed Gilbert that she was following? and if he knew that she was there? and how far he intended to go? and so on.

Should I go back? But the thought of being alone in the dark on an unfamiliar road was rather foreboding, so she continued forward. Perhaps I should call out to him. He wouldn’t send me back alone so he would have to take me with him or go back with me. But then she remembered the package and thought that if it wasn’t Gilbert then it could be someone with a little girl’s head in his package; and so her thoughts went on until she had herself quite frightened and nearly ready to cry.

After what seemed like forever and really wasn’t very long at all, a small light appeared along the horizon and buildings loomed in the distance. She hoped whoever it was wouldn’t see her trailing them.

Suddenly and much to her distress the person turned into a fenced area to the left of the road. A graveyard.

Maya shuddered but her curiosity got the best of her and she crept up to the gate. She could hear the person moving through the graves. There was no doubt that he knew where he was going and what he was going to do. 

Then the footsteps stilled. Had he heard her? She slipped through the gate and behind a large headstone. The person stood staring at a smaller plot that seemed slightly familiar to her. Then he knelt on one knee and reached into the package. She froze.

What will he do? she wondered silently, her heart pumping faster.

And all at once it became clear. The mysterious feeling disappeared and the whole place silenced as if waiting for something. In the dim light she could see Gilbert kneeling by their mother’s grave. He lifted a bouquet of roses from the package and gently brushed away old, dead flowers, replacing it with the new ones. Then he spoke.

“Hello, Mama. It’s me, Gilbert. Oh, I’m doing alright, I guess. I got a raise in my wages. You remember I got a job at McClellan’s feed store? Well, my boss said I’ve been a real help and deserve a raise.

“How’s Maya? I reckon she’s doing fine. It’s hard to tell sometimes what’s on her mind and I know I ain’t always good about talking to her and making sure she doesn’t feel alone or neglected, although I try. 

“But, Mama, it’s Pa that worries me. He doesn’t seem to care about living or us. I’ve been going to tell you but I really didn’t want to bother you about it but days turned into weeks and weeks into years and I don’t know what he’s gonna do. I try to protect Maya from finding out what he is really like but he yells at her too. Either that or ignore her. He spends most of his time in bed now, as if he’s sick. You see, the reason I’m worried is . . . well . . . he’s been drinking alcohol for the past few years and the other day I got tired of it and threw it all away. I’ve done that before and he always gets mad and yells at me, sometimes he hits me, but then he always goes out and buys more. This time he didn’t do any of that. He just went back to bed and stayed there. I tried to give him food but he wouldn’t even look at me. What am I supposed to do?” His cheek glistened and teardrops gently fell up the roses.

He was quiet for a moment and Maya tried to let it all sink in. It was a little much for her to comprehend but she caught enough to realize how hard it was for Gilbert and see a sag in his shoulders as if there was a heavy weight upon them. She wanted to go tell him that it was okay and get him to stop crying but he began talking again, his voice still low and soft.

“Some days it’s harder than others and I just want to crawl in a hole and die but I’m not gonna give up. I’ll do my best for Maya . . . and Pa. I miss you, Mama.”

Then he lowered his head. “Dear Lord. I don’t know if Mama can hear me or if it’s foolish to be talking to a headstone but I feel the closest to her when I come here. I can’t come everyday but since you called her to be with you on a Tuesday it just seems right. Give me the strength to carry on, Lord, and wisdom to know what to do with Pa. And tell Mama I love her, will ya?”

He stayed in this position for a while without saying anything. Maya wondered if she should head back so that he wouldn’t know she heard, or maybe hide and trail him back, or just tell him she was here, but before she could decide he rose and walked toward the gate and the headstone that she was hiding behind.

He walked through the gate, not seeming to see her. Without further thought she stepped out from her hiding place.

“Gibby,” she called softly.

He stopped dead and slowly turned around. She saw the tears in his eyes and rushed toward him with open arms. He knelt on one knee and embraced her.

He didn’t say anything so she spoke instead.

“God will help you, Gibby.” She smiled slightly. “ And I’m always here too.”

He sniffed. “I know.”

Then, standing, they walked hand in hand into the rising sun.

November 17, 2023 16:03

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Molly Layne
20:13 Nov 17, 2023

Aww that was a lovely story! Great writing, wow, you should be famous lol


Mary Ann Ford
22:48 Nov 17, 2023

Thanks so much :) Glad you liked it.


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