What is Put in Your Way
Dapple shadows danced a slow waltz across the lawn. Pleasing to the eye in the late afternoon. Evelyn sat heavily into her favourite white-wicker chair, with its over-stuffed floral cushion, enjoying the moment. The trees in the forest beyond the garden, waved gently in the light breeze, greeting their old friend once more. A worn, green swing-set, stood over to the left, idle under the old, sprawling oak. The grandchildren would be here tomorrow. Evelyn paid herself a smile and closed her weary eyes. A flash of a memory surprised her and set her heart to pounding, as if to announce the unwanted vision. She saw herself being carried on much younger legs, as she hastily fled across that very lawn; clutching a small, green suitcase in one hand. The scuffed suitcase bashed at her leg in protest, as she dragged an unwilling and frightened child by the other. Her son, William, whimpered in confusion at the unexpected retreat from home.
The memory unfolded with the clarity of yesterday, as she watched the hapless couple bungled into the back of a waiting taxi. A discordant beat, rose from her chest, as she recalled the sting of shame as the driver’s gaze turned away from her bruised face. Had he noticed the blood on her blouse? He kept his thoughts to himself and sped away without asking where they were going, as Evelyn hushed and shushed that frightened child. She pulled her cardigan over the red stain, as she dared herself a glance back to the house. The relief of not seeing her maddened, whiskey-breathed husband in pursuit was short lived, as she recalled him lying there on the kitchen floor. Jack’s head had collected the kitchen table after she had hit him hard with the sturdy frypan. She could not remember the hurried packing of the suitcase or the shaky call, summoning the taxi. She did recall making sure the scene was shielded from William’s gaze. He was sternly instructed to wait on the porch. She had bent over Jack’s slumbering bulk, and cautiously shook his left shoulder. He had groaned slightly. She had reeled back fearing him rearing up once more. A small pool of viscous blood was seeping across the worn, timber floor, away from his down turned face. She could still smell the metal and feel the sickening emptiness inside her as her guts rolled unnaturally.
Evelyn released the pain of that moment with a heartfelt sigh. That was long ago. She opened her eyes and raised an aged finger to wipe away a tear, borne of the visceral imprints of that terrible day. The shadows on the lawn grew longer. The song birds were scuffling in the trees. The kettle, whistled insistently from the kitchen, and faded as it was attended to. Evelyn pulled her cardigan around to cover her blouse, from the chill of the fading daylight.
No policemen came calling; though she had waited in shreds, each hour. Her parents had begged her to leave. How could she? The Jack she knew and loved so deeply, was not the man she fought with. He had been stolen from her by war. He had returned with insipid, woeful eyes, dragging his spirit behind him, finding solace in the bottle, not the arms or soothing words of those who held him dear. To abandon him, would be worse, like ignoring a deep cut and letting it fester. She steeled herself to the task. She had to take that rocky road. She had stood tall after every stumble. She had smoothed the furrows that fate had challenged her with, and carried that man back to her heart, to home. She had steered him away from that malicious buddy that led to the badlands of disaster and false comfort.
The screen door opened.
‘Here we go my darling.’ Jack placed a cup of tea on the small white-wicker table next to Evelyn.
‘That’s the best cuppa’ you’ll get today,’ he said with a familiar, shaky voice. ‘I sprinkled in some love.’
He leant in and kissed her on the cheek, once more. The scar on his right temple still visible. A modicum of solace, and divisible by the tempted peace we all seek. The faded beat of the drum. Jack had never touched a drop of booze again, after that jolt of wretched pain. He had come home on a solemn promise. The key to the treasure of the heart is to stay the course, and know that what is put in your way, is what matters at the end of the day. Jack was put in Evelyn’s way, to keep in good stead. The treasure is unlocked by devotion, no matter what the commotion, no matter what others may say.
‘You always do my love,’ she said.
© Tropical Writers Inc 2024