Here is this week’s personal short story challenge. It’s only a few words over my 1000 target. The word Bonsai was chosen by my daughter, Danielle. I searched using that words and picked this picture.
The fog slowly crept in and covered the landscape in a dull gray. The distant lighthouse’s mournful warned the ships of land. The gentle sway of the ocean had always been my meditation, but today the sound grated on my nerves.
I turned my attention to the bonsai that Henry had named Blossom. It had been a wedding gift from Henry’s parents. Blossom had stood at the edge of the cliff for more than forty years. Here is where I scattered Henry’s ashes last week. Sitting on the bench made out of driftwood that he had made right after retiring three years ago didn’t bring me the closure I desired.
Our golden years were cut short by aggressive cancer. I was left with an empty ocean view house and Blossom. She was the closest thing to kids since I could only miscarry babies, not have them. After losing four, we couldn’t bear any more loss. We let that dream go. We became each other’s everything, and now I was lost without his easy smile or quick wit.
Dr. Denny’s declaration rang hollow this morning. “You’re in perfect health, Mrs. Duffy. You’ll live to be 100 years old.”
I had smiled, but inside I almost wished it had been bad news. How could I live for thirty more years without the one person who made life worth living?
A sudden chill ran through me, and I pulled my knitted cap down over my ears and zipped up my coat higher.
“I should have brought my scarf today, Henry.”
A lone seagull dove past me, screeching toward the open water. The cold filled me, and I stood up. “Henry?”
I scanned the area. Nothing. I shook my head as a gust of wind tore the hat off my head.
“Hey!” I chased the blue hat as it headed for the cliff. “Come back here!”
My foot slipped on a rock, and I started sliding toward the edge. My only hope was grabbing Blossom. I had one chance, or I’d be painfully joining Henry. My hand reached and missed the tree, and my foot was off the cliff. Everything moved in slow motion as I prayed for a miracle.
What happened next, I’ve never shared with anyone. Blossom bent toward me, and I swear her branches were reaching for me like hands, right as a huge blast of wind blew in from the ocean. A branch wrapped around me as I collided with Blossom’s trunk. I hugged the tree as tears ran down my face.
Carefully, I moved my fingers and then the rest of my body. Nothing felt broken, just bruised. I lay there for a moment taking long, deep breaths to calm my racing heart.
“That was a close one, Henry.”
Black tennis shoes were suddenly next to Blossom.
“I wish I could help you up, Darcie.” came the familiar voice.
I sat up so quickly I hit my head on the bottom branch.
I rubbed my head where a bump was already forming. “I either have brain damage, or I’m dead.”
The loud laughter that I so loved drowned out the ocean. “Neither.”
I moved a branch and saw the man I loved in his 30s. “But you’re dead. How can I see you?”
He shook his head. His brown curl that I had loved to play with bounced around his ear. “In my panic to stop you from going over the cliff, I was able to communicate with Blossom. She offered her life to the wind to save you.”
Using the tree that had split in two, I pulled myself to standing where I was eye to eye with Henry. It was unnerving I could see through those beautiful eyes. “Blossom?”
“Yes. I had no idea that was possible, but I’m grateful to her. I wish it could have been me to save you, but I didn’t know how. She did. Wise tree.”
I shook my head. “I don’t understand. How can you bargain with the wind?”
Henry gestured to the landscape. “The wind and the world are alive where I am. Anything is possible. Blossom is with me, using the last of her strength to help me talk to you.”
“I’m so confused. Our tree is a spirit? Can I see her?”
“Yes, a spirit, but is too weak right now to appear to you. She wants you to know she’s eager to play with our children.”
I caught my breath.“Our children are there?”
He held out his arms. “Of course, they have always stayed close to us.”
“This is crazy.”
His face softened, and he reached out. All I could feel was the cold, not his warm touch. “As much as I want you here with me, I know you still have so much good left to do. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
He started to fade. “Blossom says you’ll soon find what you are meant to do next and plant another bonsai next to her. Its soul will watch over you. Bye, sweetheart.”
“You can’t leave.”
“I can’t stay. Be happy.”
Then he was gone. I dragged myself to the bench, collapsed onto it, and let the tears flow. The winds kicked up, finishing the destruction of the bonsai. I slowly made my way back to the house. As I climbed the stairs, a small furry black kitten was crying by the red door. I scooped it up.
As soon as the kitten was settled in a warm box, I went back to look for the mother and the rest of the kittens. I never found them. This was what Henry was talking about—my love of animals. I always wanted to have them and take care of injured ones but Henry’s severe allergies had prevented that.
Now I could volunteer at our local wildlife rehabilitation center or foster unwanted pets. First, though, I had a little guy to take care of who had a home with me. He was purring contently in his warm blanket after gobbling down some tuna. Maybe I would start an animal sanctuary. There were so many possibilities, thanks to Blossom’s sacrifice and Henry’s love. I wouldn’t let them down!
NOTE: Next week will be my last short story challenge for a few weeks. I have book reviews to offer instead. The word I will be working with is ruthless provided by my hubby.
Embrace your inner child by hugging a tree! D. L. Finn