Finish That Thought, week 31


Fingers trembling, she slowly unrolled the ancient document. Julie and her sisters had been packing up boxes for days, and today was the end – the last day her family would be in this house. She was off to college in the morning, and her siblings, all older, had been gone for a while now, building their own lives in their own houses. The crash that had taken their parents away was now months in the past, but still raw, still something her mind bumped into when she turned a mental corner too quickly.

Julie was in the crawlspace – it was too small to be a proper attic – and she’d been walking down memory lane with her brother and sisters, trying to find the joy amongst the sorrow. There were random Christmas ornaments, and boxes of homework and report cards and photos – too many to look through in just an afternoon.  And there were too many of mom and dad.

It was dark in here, and hot, and the fiberglass dust made her itchy. The sweat running into her eyes began to burn, and from there it ran down her face, mixing with tears. It was just too much, sometimes.

The box of her grandmother’s dishes, used once a year, for a while, and then stuck up here with the rest of history, caught on a rafter, and Julie had to crawl carefully – Remember, Julie! Don’t step between the beams or you’ll come through the ceiling! – to get it free. Reaching into the dark behind the box, her hand came upon something – rolled up and brittle. She eased it free and wiped the sweat from her forehead, and then from her hands onto her shorts, before opening it up. It had been torn from a book – a diary? – and was in her father’s blocky script.

“Kate – I just met you today, but already I’m in love. I can’t wait – can’t wait for kids, and love, and vacations, and love, and old age, and love. As the Germans say, Ich leibe dich.”

Julie rolled the paper back up and started for the ladder down from the crawlspace. She needed air, needed to cry, needed to yell, needed Tom and Lisa and Missy. But most of all, she needed her mom, needed to know what it was like on that day, and what it was like to know that there were no more tomorrows.


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