Of Loss (Flash Fiction)

On a dull afternoon, Catherine, working the mental list of things to do and what could be skipped for tomorrow, turned the page of her calendar and was suddenly reminded of loss. October first, the start of the fiscal year, a day when fat cats in tall buildings busied themselves with new ways to win the same game, had become a day of permanent stain.


The list in her mind was wiped. The clock stopped. Images of a young boy with curly brown hair running, running-running-running, running out of reach. Running with a smile on his face, laughing, racing, faster! Further! Such a fun game. Catherine felt the panic murmur through her heart just the same.

Stop. God in heaven, make him stop.

There’s a hidden beauty in the mind in terms of repressing memory, and the vault that held the trauma endured so many years before, a vault forever sealed shut, ended the memory’s transmission before its devastating conclusion. But no memory vault is perfect, and the image of that beautiful brown hair bouncing in the wind replayed again. And again.

She let the calendar page fall and sighed. The house was empty, quiet. With husband working and other children in school, Catherine was left to remember the one that would never come through the door. Like clockwork, the routine of this haunting anniversary moved on to the next scene, and guilt came into Catherine’s mind. The guilt of no longer having tears to cry, of having mourned completely. As a family, they had carried on. Together, they endured a very difficulty time.

And life moved on, didn’t it? The pain faded to a tolerable dull edge, and everyone busied themselves with the things in life that they could change. Manage it, they all said. Do things that are healthy. Don’t distract yourself or ignore it, but try to find ways to make the process positive.

So they did.

And you got used to it, didn’t you? said the guilt in her head. You were able to forget. She nodded to herself as the guilt tore through scar tissue and dug at old wounds. Catherine looked through the sliding glass door to the backyard. Folding chairs from the previous weekend’s barbecue were waiting to be put away, and the mental list of things to do re-emerged.

But you get used to it, said the guilt. Over time, you forget. It’s like those shifting shadows out there, how they creep along throughout the day. Life moves and changes. Shadows come. The light of your love is blocked, so you eventually shine that light elsewhere. But those shadows will remain.

Catherine’s phone rang. It was her son, the one who was so violently promoted to the title of youngest years ago. She saw the time on her phone, and the clock in her mind restarted. Living children would be coming home soon. It was time to shift away from the shadows and let love shine.

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