The Dead Will Haunt (Flash Fiction)

There is fine stemware that goes undisturbed in a glass cabinet. In the morning, the early sun peaks through the windows and sends its light glinting from this delicate crystal. For a few moments each day, in the late fall and early springs, this light displays an ocean of rainbow across the furniture and floor. Brilliant light is brought forth from the stemware that is used no more.

A woman pours coffee into a worn cup after the rainbows depart, never knowing they were there. She drinks her coffee with a still breath and a silent tongue and watches the sun come over the horizon. In the late falls and early springs she can see the frost that has grown across a still and wide lawn. The blades are trimmed biweekly and then left still. The frost is all that touches them now. As the sun sears the frost away, the faintest bits of rainbow dance within her eye.

Daily, she slips on gloves and grabs her spade and travels a stone path that splits the lawn. Her feet no longer touch the grass her family once played upon. She tends to her garden. Over the years, the garden has expanded and slowly consumed parts of the lawn. Her work is slow and methodical. She has the rest of her life to get the work done. A substantial hedgerow lines the back. It stands tall and thick. Behind and beyond it stands an old oak that has grown sick. A rope swing hangs from its limbs. The rope is frayed and worn and neglected. Only the wind uses it.

The day ends in the early afternoon. Her back tires easily and the arthritis creeps in. She changes her coffee for tea and drinks from the same cup. Books are read in the sun room. She makes cakes for visitors who no longer come. She watches the sun set and waits. As the evening settles in, she trades tea for wine and reads even more by candle light.

As the wine soaks into her veins, the memories come. Some are sorrow, some are joy, but the tears are all the same. She begs forgiveness and prays for mercy and vows tomorrow will become something different. She’ll take her spade beyond the hedge and go and visit the oak. She’ll tend to the stones that lie beneath its dying limbs. One stone is large and the other two are smaller. She’ll pull the weeds away and plant flowers. She may even swing. She’ll take the time to properly remember. Then she stumbles off to sleep.

Her husband and children watch her. They are silent. They are ethereal. They cannot be seen. They wonder if she’ll ever rise early enough to see the rainbows from the stemware. They wonder if she’ll ever walk barefoot on the grass again. Then they fade away and return to their stones beneath the fraying swing and dying oak tree.

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