#41 Charlie

by M. Wilkinson

The dress was blue and white, with large orange poppies. Marie smoothed the skirt over her ample hips. Charlie had bought it for her on their first wedding anniversary some forty years ago. Now it was a little tight under the arms and flattened her breasts, but the skirt still swung full around her knees. She’d wanted to wear it to Charlie’s funeral the previous week, but her daughters objected.

“It’s not appropriate for a funeral, Mum.”

Marie looked at their newly styled hair and shiny black shoes, and thought, how they would know what was appropriate for Charlie and me? They scarcely know us, how we started our marriage with borrowed furniture—that Charlie saved for weeks to buy the dress—stretched his meagre pay to give them a good education, or how thrilled he was when they married well.

“We’ll try and get to see you next Christmas,” they said after the funeral, and drove away in expensive cars.

Inside the silent house, Charlie’s chair still retained the imprint of his body. Maria gazed at it, her heart a stone in her chest. She closed the door gently, and trudged into the kitchen to clear up the dishes.

*

The river was high with spring floods when Marie stepped off the bridge. “I’m coming, Charlie,” she called.

She hit the water with hardly a splash. The skirt of the dress billowed around her, and swept downstream like a wreath of flowers.

11 comments:

Jason Reed said...

This is very good!

stacy said...

Heartbreaking!

Shona Snowden said...

Nicely done - and a complete story.

goldengirl said...

Thanks Jason, Stacy and Shona!

Anonymous said...

Love that endnote--the wreath of flowers. Nicely done!

P. Frey

Christopher James said...

I love that line about it being the wrong thing to wear to his funeral. I'm impressed

Sam Knight said...

Very nice. I love the part about his imprint still in the chair. It was poignant.

goldengirl said...

Sam and Chris

Thanks so much for reading and commenting :)

Douglas Campbell said...

A heartbreaker, Maureen. Fine job!

John C. Mannone said...

I forgot to leave a comment when I first read this wonderful piece. I like it how you very clearly invoke the art prompt into the flash.

I was moved.

Hannah Onoguwe said...

Yes, I did notice the prompt weaved into it. Well-written!