Winter By Annie

EMAIL: Annie

FOUR WORD CHALLENGE - Balloon, Winter, Pencil, and Purple

There was a time I loved it, a time when the sound of a child laughing excitedly as he built a snowman or slid down the driveway on a sled warmed me the way no roaring fire could.

Now it just seems gray and drab and dingy. The snow has lost its sparkle and there's no excitement to be found in the sludge covering my driveway as a watery sun peeks through the clouds and melts it.

Turning away from the window, I almost trip on something beneath my feet. A purple pencil, left abandoned there what seems a millennium ago. Cursing, I pick it up and toss it into the trashcan. "Damn it," I snarl as I slam the lid shut. "How many times did I have to tell you to put your stuff away?"

There's a balloon bobbing gently on its string where it's tied to the back of a kitchen chair. Viciously I grab a fork from the drawer and pop it, revelling in the bang it makes then I toss that after the pencil and slam the lid of the bin again.

Upstairs, his room seems too full of him and before I even realize what I'm doing I have boxes hauled up from the garage and I'm packing away every last bit of every reminder of him. The detritus of a small and too short life.

A knock on the bedroom door makes me look up. Daniel's standing there, leaning against the doorframe, an indefinable look on his face. "Hey," he says, coming in and kneeling beside me as I throw Lego blocks in after Matchbox cars and squish a teddy on top. "Need a hand?"

"I got it," I say shortly.

He pulls the bear out and studies it closely then places it back in the box. "You miss him."

"Can't miss you when you're here, Daniel," I say curtly.

"Not me, him. That little boy, Daniel, that you cared for like he was your own. I'm sorry you lost him, Jack."

I blink back the tears that want to overflow and pull him into a hug. "I'm glad you're back, Daniel."

"I remember how safe I felt with you," he says softly.

I nod then smile as he climbs to his feet and hauls me up to mine. "So, I was thinking, I haven't had a beer in like a year..."

I snort a laugh at that. "Go. In the fridge. Pull some steaks out while you're there. I'll barbecue."

I wait till he's gone and then I pull the bear out of the box. It's wearing a shirt that says, "I am Daniel's bear." I close the box up and take the bear through to my room. It fits just right on the shelf in my closet next to the little box that contains all the mementoes I have left of Charlie. Charlie, son of my flesh. Daniel, son of my heart.