Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words
by Cheri Lucas Rowlands on February 3, 2014
Marie had never felt so tired in all her life. She, mechanically, removed the clothing she had worn to the funeral and pulled on a pair of pajamas. Her mother lay resting in the bedroom before her own. Marie had given her mother one of the valium’s the doctor had prescribed. She walked, silently, back into her mother’s bedroom to check on her, before taking one of her own valium’s and going to bed.
Marie’s daughters were being looked after by family, but they knew their mother’s bedroom door was always open to them if they needed to talk.
As she drifted off to sleep, Marie found herself standing at the side of her old elementary school building. ‘I thought this old building had been torn down,’ Marie pondered to herself. She looked long and hard at the building before realizing it was empty; long deserted.
It was light where Marie was standing, but it looked darker along the walkway. Marie walked under the archway and tried the office doors to her right, but they were padlocked. She continued walking and trying other doors to no avail. They were all padlocked.
The light was growing dimmer as she walked, but her eyes were adjusting well. Eventually, Marie came upon the basement door and above it was the door to the old lunchroom. She walked up the steps leading to the lunchroom door and to her surprise, this door was not padlocked. Marie opened the door. For a moment, she saw the lunchroom as it was in her day. She could smell the food, hear the clinking of forks and spoons upon the eating trays and the children’s chatter, and she could see the children, lunchroom ladies, and teachers. Just for a moment and then they were gone, leaving Marie alone in the dark, empty lunchroom.
Marie stood for awhile, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She backed up against the wall and slid down to a sitting position, with her arms folding around her knees. Suddenly, the lunchroom lit up and was, once again, filled with children eating, laughing, and talking. Marie saw her younger brother standing in the food line. She watched him as he got his tray and moved toward a table. Marie moved to his table and sat down directly across from him.
Marie spoke his name, but he continued talking to the boy sitting next to him, as he shoved food in his mouth. Marie reached across the table and touched his beautiful face, but he did not acknowledge her in any way. Marie began to cry. “I’m so sorry, so sorry. It was all my fault, all my fault. Please forgive me. I’m so sorry,” Marie cried over and over. It was no use. When her younger brother’s class rose from the table in preparation to depart for their classroom, Marie tried to follow, but found herself slammed back onto the concrete floor trying to sob her heartache out in the darkness.
Marie knew the old lunchroom didn’t hold anything else for her. She knew the basement held some memories for her, but she wasn’t ready to face them, yet.
She walked out of the lunchroom and ignored the basement door. Marie knew she couldn’t move back to the light until she had faced all things, including the ones held in the basement, so she turned to her right and continued down the darkness of the walkway.
The darkness hid her. She would rest here for awhile in the emptiness that was nothing. She felt comfortably numb.