My apologies for the late timing of this post. Today was spent
breaking off the weeds weeding, killing plants transplanting flowers and spreading mulch. I never thought about needing a post until supper time when I realized it was Friday.
I wrote this short story months ago, but for some reason, never felt it was the right time to publish it. When I realized I had nothing written for today, I thought about this story and felt that now was the time.
This is part 1. I’ll post the conclusion next week.
* * * * *
Cassie sank onto the bottom step, her sneakers making a squeaking sound against the wood. The sound took her back to that summer when she had sat in this same spot watching for her best friend to come home.
The summer when her eight year old mind struggled to understand the concept of death and heaven.
As she had sat there all those years ago, she had leaned out as far as she could, trying to see down the street that stretched beyond her own small yard. She had counted the houses, imagining the people in each.
First there had been Mr. and Mrs. Talbot.
Mr. Talbot smelled like Grandpa Mason. Mama said it was something called Old Spice. Cassie had liked it, but had wondered what New Spice would smell like. She smiled now as she remembered.
Mrs. Talbot was always baking cookies and cakes and good things, making Cassie try to find reasons to go visiting.
Mr. Talbot had died a few years ago, and Mrs. Talbot had sold the big old house to a young couple with a baby so she could move across town to be closer to her son.
Next there was Mr. Palmer. Cassie had figured he had to be the oldest person she had ever met. A fact that would have amused Mr. Palmer if he knew. He had just turned eighty the week before, which meant back then he would have only been seventy.
And then there was Matt’s house. Even though Matt was no longer there, that house would always be Matt’s in Cassie’s mind.
Cassie remembered sitting on that step as if it were yesterday. She twisted on the step, angling herself so that she could look down the street better. She leaned her head back against the post at the bottom of the steps, and closed her eyes, remembering ….
As she looked down the street, her tiny face puckered into a frown. Matt was sick. Mama said that Matt was going to leave soon and go live with Jesus in heaven.
Cassie didn’t really understand heaven, just what she had learned in Sunday School. Miss Emily said that heaven was the best place. She had told the class that when Matt went to heaven, he would never be sick again and never be hurt, or anything.
Cassie liked the sound of heaven, but Mama said that when someone went there, they could not come back like when they went to the store and then came back home. Mama said that once someone went to heaven, they had to stay there because Jesus wanted them there.
She leaned farther, trying to see if Mrs. Newman’s car was in the driveway. Since Matt had gotten sick, he couldn’t come to play with her anymore. And when she went to his house, they sat on his bed and watched TV or played Candyland on the table in the living room.
She scooted forward some more, looking around the plant that grew at the edge of the steps. She could see Mr. Palmer’s car but not Mrs. Newman’s. She inched a little farther, careful to keep the seat of her pants on the step.
She was not allowed to leave the step. Daddy and Mama had said.
A butterfly came and landed on the flower next to the step. Cassie and Matt liked to watch the butterflies and she decided the yellow and black butterfly was the prettiest thing she had ever seen. She sucked her lower lip in and reached out slowly.
“Cassie, what are you doing, sweetheart?”
She pulled her hand back and turned around to look at Mama in the doorway.
“Mama, see the butterfly?”
Mama came out and down the steps just before it flew away.
“Oh! Isn’t that pretty! I’ve never seen one like that before.” Mama sank down onto the step. “What are you doing sitting out here all by yourself?”
“Waiting for Mrs. Newman to bring Matt home so I can go over.”
She watched Mama frown and knew something was wrong.
“Honey, I don’t think Matt will be coming home again.”
“Why? Did he go to heaven?” Cassie felt tears in her eyes and looked at her Mama as they fell down her face. “I didn’t say goodbye!”
“Oh, honey. He didn’t go to heaven yet; but he is very sick and he has to stay in the hospital.”
Cassie began to cry.
“I don’t want Matt to go to heaven Mama. Why does he have to go to heaven? Why doesn’t God make him all better?”
“I don’t know, honey. I just know that sometimes people, even children like Matt get sick and go to live in heaven.”
Cassie was silent as Mama wrapped her arm around Cassie’s shoulders and pulled her closer.
“Mama, can we go to the hospital so I can say goodbye?”
“Yes, we can do that, but I’ll have to call his mom first and find out when it will be okay.”
Cassie leaned against Mama’s shoulder just as the butterfly came back and fluttered around their heads.
“Hold still, honey,” Mama whispered. “Don’t scare it away.”
They sat just barely daring to breath as the beautiful creature settled on Cassie’s knee. Cassie watched it, studying the beauty of the thin wings and the spots and colors.
When it flew away, she turned and smiled up at Mama.
“I wish Matt could see it.”
* * * * *
Next week- conclusion
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012