Chuck Wendig put up another “Stock Photo” challenge this week. This one is close to my heart because it was the very first flash fiction challenge I entered after starting my blog. I wasn’t sure I could write a story about anything, much less a story based on a photo, but I managed to muddle my way through it and even lived to see another day!
All the photos are pretty ridiculous and it makes me wonder how I ended up with such a somber story. I suppose that’s just creativity and imagination for you.
I chose number 5, shown below. Coming in at 973 words, I give you:
Mama, are you there?
I don’t know if you’re listening, or if you can even hear me. I know you raised me to believe in God and life after death, but after everything I watched you go through, I’m not sure I still believe. How could God let you escape Papa’s abuse only to let you be taken less than two years later, your body filled with cancer that spread so quickly, they didn’t know how to stop it? How could he, if he really does have infinite wisdom, think it was in my best interest to be an orphan at sixteen? I don’t have any answers about God which makes me wonder if there is an afterlife; but I’d like to believe you are still with me, watching over me and loving me. I know the bones buried in the coffin six feet beneath me aren’t you, Mama. In fact, sometimes I imagine you’re a light shining in the heavens – one of those billions of stars – and when it twinkles, it’s your way of saying hello.
I can’t say I was sorry when Papa died. I always thought one or both of us would die by his hands, but as it turned out, he met his end when he stepped in front of that train in a drunken rage. I know you grieved for him in some small way, but I never did. His end was fitting.
You didn’t deserve it, though, Mama and I miss you every day. I’ll never forget how it was just the two of us those first few years, struggling to make it; how you worked two jobs just to put food on the table and allowed me to stay in school. I know it was always hard to be on the run from Papa, but we did it and I have to say, I am so proud of us! We escaped and managed to eek out a few years of happiness, even though it was hard sometimes.
But then we found out you had cancer and there was nothing they could do. Before I knew what hit me, you were gone, leaving me all alone in this world.
I always thought you would be with me through every step in life. I imagined you were waiting on the couch for me after my first date with Robbie and you listened to my excitement as I told you about my evening. How he took me to a real fancy restaurant and I was so intimidated I didn’t really want to go in, but he saw me hesitate and stopped to ask if I was okay. I would have asked you, “Is this for real, Mama? Are there really nice men in the world?” And you would have said, “Yes, Love, there are. Just listen to your instincts. They’re real strong in you and they’ll lead you straight.”
I imagined you were waiting at home for me after the first time he kissed me. I was so dizzy, Mama! I would have asked, “Is he supposed to stick his tongue in my mouth?” And you would have laughed and said, “Yes, Love.” And we would have talked into the night about how he said all the right things and made me feel things I’d never felt before.
You would have been the first person I called when he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. It was like a fairy tale and I felt like the happiest person alive. Did Papa do that, Mama? I don’t think you ever told me.
When I went to pick out my dress, you would have been with me, helping me choose the perfect one. “Are you sure you want that much cleavage, Love?” “You have such pretty shoulders, maybe a strapless one would be best.” I found one, Mama! Can you see it? Do you like it? The first thing I said when I found it was, “Mama would have loved this dress!” I hope I was right. I hope you can see it and love it as much as I do.
I always thought you would be there when my first baby was born. Don’t worry, Mama, I’m not pregnant yet, but Robbie and I want lots of kids. We talk about it all the time, so I don’t think it will be long before I am a Mama too. You would have been the best Grandma in the whole world! You probably wouldn’t have let the kids call you that. You would have said it made you sound old, but we would have come up with something fun for them to call you because I’m sure you would have been with us every single day, watching them grow, helping me be a Mama just like you.
In case you couldn’t tell, it’s my wedding day, Mama! Oh, how I wish you were here! I miss you so very much. But I wanted you to know that I am truly happy. Robbie is so kind and gentle and loving. He’s never raised a hand to me or even yelled at me. We talk about everything and he’s my best friend. I love him so much, Mama.
Anyway, I just wanted you to be a part of this day, so I stopped here on my way to the courthouse. I know you wouldn’t approve of that. You probably would have said, “You need to be married in a church before God,” but this is perfect for me and Robbie, so I hope you’ll forgive me.
If you could, will you please twinkle your lights tonight, brighter than all the rest? I need to know you’re with me; that you’re a part of my perfect day.
I love you, Mama. I’ll talk to you again soon.