This story is one of the March Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

The words consume me. My fall echoing the memory that they trigger, like stepping through a foreign doorway into a familiar room. The itch of our checkered brown carpet that Dad never could depart with grows green and silky in my fingers. A fresh carpet of spring emerges, welcoming the daffodils into a bed of sunlight which I inhale. Once. Twice.

Above, a bird coos in the vast apple tree that looms in dominance over my young girlish body, crouching in the undergrowth. I can hear her counting. Her playground voice carrying across the garden, reborn in the spring. “58,59,60!” She belongs here, I think, amongst these trees in this grassy haven, the tinkling bells of her voice as innocent as the bird in that tree.

My attention is drawn to the ladybird that has landed on my wrist — its small gentle body tingling against my skin. I lose all track of time, oblivious to everything but that tiny creature’s movements. And then she is here, hovering above me, a beam across her face that I can only describe as a thousand shades of sunlight. She mutters those words, the ones that have taken me back these 10 years…

But then I am back. Agony. The very feeling itself. My grassy pillow dies into the scratchy carpet of her bedroom floor where I lie, motionless — a grey, dead void that doesn’t smell anything like the garden we once played in. I breathe in, hoping to find the scent of her perfume, but there is nothing except emptiness echoing through my body. Only a hollow room filled with black plastic bags. Reminders.

I look to our dad standing in the doorway, his eyes bleary and aged. Too old and worried for his body. He repeats the words softly, the pain on his face as clear as a spring day.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”



Emily Burke

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