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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Drama · #597309
a child learns to deal with loss
Letting Go

It was a beautiful day, all golds, blues, and greens. The scent of early summer grasses, new grown and fresh cut blew through the air. She wore a dress of deep emerald green; she had puked all over the black one and it was the next most appropriate thing her mother could find to put her in. She didn't want to be there, in that dark too cool church, with its high ceilings and stained glass windows. She didn't want to hear people crying or the minister saying nice things about Joey because he didn't mean it. He didn't even like Joey, barely knew him; called Joey a sissy 'cause he wrote poetry and could draw really good. Joey said the minister was a prick and a dumbass who didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, and that he wouldn't play on the stupid church kids baseball team if Minister Prick begged him to. He really wanted to play ball but Minister Prick looked him up and down and wouldn't even let him try out, offered to let him be bat boy but Joey said no; said he almost said "hell no!" but didn't.

She didn't want to be there on the sunny hill, smelling fresh cut grass, and dug up earth, standing there being clutched by her mother, waiting to stick Joey in that hole in the ground Minister Prick didn't know from his ass. She didn't want to stand there and hear birds sing while Minister Prick did his thing. She didn't want to stand there feeling her guts heave as her stomach tried to rid itself of food that wasn't even there. She stood there dry eyed in stoney silence listening to the weeping around her, and to the monotone voice of Minister Prick, and to the birds singing in the trees and pooping on the hillside below them. She stood there thinking it was probably her mama who asked Minister Prick not to let Joey play ball. Mama was always afraid he'd get hurt doin' somethin' away from the house so she was always tryin' to protect him without makin' him mad. Her grandma said mama had been like that ever since the babysitter let Joey fall down the stairs and knock himself out. Her grandma said this happened the night she was born so all three of them were in the hospital at the same time; her all brand new, Joey all banged up, and mama all freaked out.

She stood there scratchin' at the hives blossoming on her neck and feelin' sick at both ends of her gut. She stood there scratchin' and passin' silent farts 'til she couldn't stand no more. She turned and ran, yanking herself outta her mama's grasp, sprinting full tilt downhill legs and petticoats flying. She got behind the limo, fell to her knees, ripped up her stockings and hands and dry heaved 'til she was light headed.

Someone, with gentle hands, picked her up, held her, and stroked her back. It was her mama. She could tell by the hands, and the scent of her body, and a million other tiny details known only to a mother's child.

Her mama held her all the way home. She hummed and crooned, and wept in wild Jessie's hair. Her mama had always called her that, Wild Jessie, and Joey had been Precious Joe. Her mama carried her upstairs to her room and laid down with her on the small twin bed. Her mama said, "I know you're hurtin' in there, I know you're hurtin' so bad that you can't do anything, not even cry. But you have to, baby. You have to let yourself feel the pain to let go of the pain. You have to let go of the pain to remember the good things without wanting to die. I know you don't want to cry, God I don't remember the last time I saw you cry, but you need to honey, you need to."

She could hear the tears in her mama's voice but she couldn't do anything about them. She lay there silently hoping her mama would go away, leave her to mourn after her own fashion. After a while her mama left her alone to mourn privately.

It was difficult to mourn, she didn't know how and she was angry. She was angry with Joey for always takin' her stuff, for losing her driving cap, for being mama's favorite, for dying. She was very angry.

She lay in the bed and chewed on her rage until she fell asleep.


She and Joey rode their bikes through the wilderness; through the woods, across empty meadows, over deep, clear running streams. They took and made jumps that were impossibly high. They held their bikes in the air for untold minutes. They soared like birds, they soared with birds. They flew through the air, unfettered. They played Chase and hide and seek among the clouds. They laughed and giggled like there was no tomorrow. They played for an eternity. They returned to earth and continued playing hide and seek. She hunted for him knowing somehow that it was time for the games to end, time to go home. She spied him on the other side of a small stream. She giggled and tried to jump the stream. She failed. The ground she stood on refused to that her fly. The limbs of trees and bushes held her and would not let her go. She struggled, called out to him. He looked up, he looked so sad, he waved goodbye. She fought the ground and the trees and the stream widened between them. The earth carried him away from her. She screamed, thrashed, cried...

... and woke up with tears on her cheeks.
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