Writing Prompts. Every writer has used them at some point in their career, (whether willingly or not.) They’re like an adrenaline shot to your muse. You know, usually.
Looking for a way to keep our writing fresh and versatile, my friend Anna and I are going to be starting a prompt inspired post that we call Writing Wednesdays.
Breakdown: Every first and third Wednesday of the month, on both Anna‘s blog and mine, we’ll post a prompt that we’ve either found or come up with ourselves, as well as our own flash fiction or short story for that prompt. Please feel free to join us! Just make sure that when you post, you link your work back – and comment with a link – to one of ours so everyone can read yours too!
PROMPT: There was too much dust.
“Are you ready to do this?”
Emily startles. It isn’t so much that she forgot that he was there, it’s more that she forgot she isn’t alone. She takes a steadying breath and turns to face her husband, Ryan, in the driver’s seat. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” she says with a weak smile.
“We don’t have to do this today,” Ryan says, reaching across the centre console and squeezing her hand reassuringly. “We can wait.”
“No, I can do this,” Emily says. She takes another deep breath and then reaches down to grab the object sitting between her feet: a gold urn. Cradling it against her chest, she opens the door of the car and climbs out. Ryan comes around the car and lays his arm around her shoulders, and for a moment they just stand there and look up at the house.
It’s a nondescript place, a single story house with gray siding and curtained windows. A giant oak tree stands in the front yard, the frayed rope from an ancient tire swing still draped from a branch even though the tire has been gone for decades. Emily glances sideways at Ryan and nods, and they head for the house together.
There are weeds sprouting in the cracks of the front walk and the rose bushes have grown out of control. Emily’s hands are shaking as she digs the keyring from her coat pocket. Ryan takes the keys from her and unlocks the bright blue front door. He waits for her nod before he pushes the door opened.
Emily’s first thought is that there’s too much dust. Has it really been so long since someone was in the house? She wants to deny it but the dust doesn’t lie. In the gloom everything looks ghostly, especially the sheet-covered furniture. Emily drags the toe of her boot along the floor of the foyer, staring at the dark streak left behind where she’s wiped the dust away.
“Been a while,” Ryan says quietly, squinting as he peers into the darkened room.
“Almost a year,” Emily admits. “Since Mom went into the hospital.” At this she clutches the urn tighter against her body.
She exhales heavily through her nose and then takes her first full step into the room. It’s like breaking through a barrier and suddenly the spell is broken. Every step after that becomes easier and she crosses to the bay window. Sunlight streams in when she shoves the curtains open, and Ryan hurries to help her pull them open all the way.
Once they’ve flooded the living room with light, Emily turns and faces the fireplace directly opposite the large front window. The grate is cleaned out and the mantle is empty except for two things: a framed photograph and a second gold urn. Ryan sets a hand in the middle of her back and stands silently next to her as she contemplates her next move.
“He’s been alone here for a while,” Emily says, staring at the urn on the mantle. “I suppose it’s good, now they can be together.”
“It’ll be good for them,” Ryan says. “Married for forty-eight years, it’s a shame to keep them apart any longer.”
Emily nodded. She stepped up to the fireplace and used the sleeve of her coat to wipe off the glass of the photograph. Beneath the layer of grime is an aged photo of a smiling couple on their wedding day, arm-in-arm as they stare lovingly into each other’s eyes. Emily smiles fondly at them.
“Hi Dad,” she whispers, tracing a finger around the lip of the urn on the mantle. “I’m sorry it’s been so long since I came to see you. But I brought someone. Mom.” Dusting off the patch of mantle on the other side of the picture frame, she lifts the urn in her arms and settles it into place.
She takes a step back to see how it looks and that’s when it finally hits home. Her parents, both of them, are gone. Sitting in urns on a mantle in her childhood home. A sob bubbles up in her chest and she hurries to stifle it behind her hand.
In an instant Ryan is at her side, his arms around her. Emily curls into his chest and lets her emotions boil over. Ryan holds her until her crying fades away and then she straightens up, wiping at her eyes. “Let’s go,” she says as she scrubs the last of her tears from her cheeks.
“You’re sure?” Ryan asks. Emily nods and takes his offered hand.
In the doorway she stops and glances back at the mantle. The sunlight from the front window is illuminating the urns, making them gleam among the gray surroundings. “Bye Dad. Mom.”
They lock the house up behind them and then start across the lawn, hand-in-hand. Just before they reach the car Emily looks over her shoulder at the house. “You know, this was a great place to grow up,” she says thoughtfully. “I was thinking, now that we’re thinking of starting a family…”
The smile that spreads across Ryan’s face is beatific. “Yeah?” he asks, turning to face her and threading his fingers through hers.
“I mean, it is ours now,” Emily says. “Once the estate is settled and everything. It would be a good place to raise our family.”
Ryan steps closer and tucks her hair behind her ear. “I think that’s exactly what your mom would’ve wanted.” Through the front window of the house she can see the matching urns on the mantle, and a sudden sense of peace washes over her. Yeah, that’s exactly what her parents would want.
Anna’s post: here
Next Week’s Prompt: First line – “It was the only road out of town but in retrospect, taking it was a terrible decision.”
Please leave comments with suggestions, prompts, and of course links to your works. We look forward to seeing what you write!