Last June I posted a short-story I wrote awhile back. It’s long enough that I broke it down into four parts, and I’ll do the same this time.
Evie stood, staring down at the fresh mound of dirt covering the grave. She was grateful for the numbness that had come over her once the initial onslaught of grief had passed. And she hoped it would continue to shield her from the worst of it for some time to come because, frankly, it just hurt too much to deal with right now.
When the last of the mourners headed back to the fellowship hall at the church where the service had been held, she finally had some time alone with him.
As she glanced at the little metal marker, which proclaimed, Albert Brecken Elliston, a tear slid down her cheek. He never cared much for either his first or middle names, preferring instead to be called ‘Abe.’
Evie just called him, ‘Dad.’
Her father was dead. At the too young age of fifty-four. And even though she was here, at his grave site, had sat through the memorial service, she still had trouble wrapping her mind around that fact.
“I won’t let go until you tell me to,” he’d promised, the day he’d removed the training wheels from her little bicycle.
Evie had wanted to be like her best friend Kate, and Kate had been riding on two wheels for several weeks. But when the time came to actually try it on her own, she had panicked and clutched at her father’s arm.
“Daddy, I’m scared!”
“I won’t let you fall. I promise. I’ll hold on until you’re ready for me to let go.”
And he’d kept his word. As sure as he’d kept hold of her handlebars, running alongside the bike until sweat rolled off his brow and dampened his tee shirt. Until his breath was ragged. And when she’d finally announced that she was ready, he’d stood to the side and cheered her on.
He’d also dashed to her side when she wiped out in a gravel driveway three houses down, drying her tears and tending to her scrapes and bruises.
Evie reached into the pocket of her lightweight jacket and pulled out a single photograph. Not that she needed to see it, because every detail was burned into her memory. Not that she could see it for the tears that burned in her eyes.
The sixth grade daddy/daughter dance. Evie in her first grown up dress, a gown of lavender satin, sleeveless and lower cut in the back than Abe had been comfortable with. But then he hadn’t been especially comfortable in the suit and tie he’d worn for the occasion either. Still, his smile was proud as could be as he posed with his daughter beneath the fancy archway that had been set up in the gymnasium.
She’d had to have another copy made, and touched up awhile back because this one, the original, had grown tattered from being handled too much.
Though she had avoided it so far, Evie finally forced herself to look to her right. At the headstone that shouldn’t have been there either.
Heidi Anne Elliston. Beloved daughter of Abe and Maddy.
Evie had been there that afternoon. When the policeman had come knocking on the door to tell them that fourteen-year old Heidi had been hit by a car on her way home from the library. It had been a freak accident, there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent it. Or to change the outcome.
Her baby sister would never come home again.