Jill is grieving for her dead husband, when her brother joins her.
|"I am the diamond glint on snow."
My eyes welled up with tears as I read the famous poem. It was a month since my beloved husband and best friend died. He was so young. Too young. Forty was no age to die.
I was in front of his wardrobe, the mirrored double doors open and displaying their contents, shoes in neat rows on the bottom shelf, outfits of all colours hanging from a rail above, ties and socks a jumbled mess on the top shelf. A tear spilled from my eye as I ran a hand down the sleeve of his mustard coloured sweater. He'd loved that jumper. Looked good in it, too.
I couldn't do it. It was too soon. My hand trembled as I closed the wardrobe doors again without selecting a single item. My mind recalled a phone call from my best friend earlier that day. "How about coming for a run with me, Jill? The weather's gorgeous today. Soak up some vitamin D."
I'd declined the offer, but as I looked out the window, I decided an afternoon walk and some fresh air would be a good idea. I'd hardly left the house since the funeral.
Impulsively, I snatched Steve's urn from the shelf beside the front door. If I couldn't bring myself to sort his clothes, maybe I could scatter his ashes.
I found myself on the shore, saltwater washing over my feet and eating away at my red nail polish. I stared towards the horizon, the early afternoon sunshine warming my skin.
"Oh, Steve," I sighed. "What am I going to do without you?" With the urn cradled in one arm, the opposite hand fell on the lid and pulled back, almost without my knowledge. I watched as the breeze lifted the ashes and carried them out of the container. I fought down a lump in my throat as I watched my husband's remains float away over the beach.
With the urn still in the crook of one arm and the lid in my hand, I went for a stroll along the shore. He was gone. I'd never see my soulmate again. I barely heard the excited screams of children as they chased each other up and down the beach while their parents sunbathed or applied sunscreen to each other's backs. Others splashed in the cool water, compounding the loneliness and grief I felt. That would never be me and Steve again. It would never be our children who kicked up sand from their bare feet as they played games of Tag or raced around us. I collapsed to my knees and sobbed.
How long I was there I have no idea, but the next thing I knew, I was sitting under the shadow of a tree, the rough bark against my back. I felt no reason to move, there was nothing but an empty house and memories to go back home for.
As the sun sank towards the horizon, I became aware of a solitary figure coming towards me. He was tall, and dressed in black. As he climbed the hill, hands in his trouser pockets, I realised it was my brother, Gary. He sat down beside me, and for a moment, we gazed out over the beach in silence.
"I called round to yours," he said.
I remained silent.
"You left the door open."
I didn't care.
"Steve wouldn't want you to pine for him like this."
That got a reaction. "Steve isn't here to dictate how I feel!" I snapped.
Gary let it slide. "I see you scatterered his ashes?" He indicated the empty urn on the grass between us.
I said nothing.
"You do know it wasn't his ashes you scattered ... Don't you?"
I whipped my head around to the right. My eyes met his hazel gaze. "What? What do you mean, they weren't his ashes! Of course they were! Who else would they be?"
Gary's ginger hair flopped as he shook his head. "I believe it was a stray cat. Steve's alive and well and living in the South of France."