Chapter 5

Written by: Mrellan

The house was so quiet Shirley could hear the anniversary clock ticking on the top shelf of the bookcase in the hall. She remembered Michael's fascination for the clock when he was an eighteen-month-old and sat watching the pendulum balls rotate behind the glass dome. A few months later, he decided to do a hands-on inspection and Shirley rescued it from his curious fingers just in time. Now it ticked and chimed from a place of safety far above the reach of either boy. The silence was unsettling for her. Times of complete quiet in the house were rare since the boys were born. Four-year-old twins seemed to generate noise even when they slept. Shirley looked out the living room window, watching the sky turn colors as the sunset deepened.

She glanced at the swing set under the Jacaranda tree. The dense green leaves provided shade for the twins to play when the summer days got hot. As she watched, one of the swings began to move back and forth. The evening breeze drifted through the open window and Shirley could have sworn she heard faint laughter. The second swing also began to move. The laughter was stronger now as the swings went higher. Gradually, two faint, transparent figures appeared. The shadows darkened and turned into the figures of her children. Their laughter filled Shirley’s heart until there was no room left for anything but joy. The pink rays of the sun turned into a warm red-gold glow that touched Shirley’s skin and made it tingle. She stood transfixed, afraid to blink.

They spoke in unison but their voices were not that of children, nor was it a sound Shirley heard. It was the sound of one heart speaking to another. The voice told her the boys were back together and were happy because they shared the same spirit. They thanked her for being their mother and reminded her, a mother and her children have an eternal bond of love. The bond encircled her at that moment and it would always be in her heart to hold and comfort her. Slowly, the vision faded but the feeling of quiet peace remained.
*
*
*
*
Shirley awakened to the sound of the doorbell. Two police officers stood on the stoop, “Mrs. Blake?”

“Yes”

“There has been an accident. We will take you to the hospital.”

“Yes, I know,” she said.

“I’m afraid the news is not good Ma’am. Your son…..”

“I know,” she said quietly, “My son died in the accident. How is my husband?”

The officer explained, as they drove to the hospital. Apparently, Gary had another seizure while he was driving. He must have known for a brief moment what was happening because he swerved to keep from hitting a stopped bus full of school age children on an outing. The car went through a barrier and rolled down an incline. Jason died instantly when he ejected from the car. Gary was critical but alive.

Mrellan Harahan (USA)

Comments

This is an excellent way to move this story on. What keeps Gary alive when he has killed his children I don't know. Something has to happen to him to give a balance to his existance.
I agree with Ken. Sometimes we forget that it is not only action that moves a story along but how the writer makes the characters stand out by showing their emotions and how they react to them. My only crit so far is - I can't see any of the characters. Is Shirley fat or thin? Does she have long blonde hair? Did Michael have black curly hair and was he taller than his brother? Did Gary walk with a limp? This is a major missing element in this serial and others. It would make a big difference to all the stories if we can look at the characters - then we can also see their surroundings. I like this chapter. Mrellan has played on emotion and left a question. Did Shirley dream about the kids or did she actually see them?
Interesting change in direction. This chapter makes me want to know what will happen next - and that's a great thing for any writer to be able to achieve.
Although, slowing down the pace in a serial can turn problematic if other writers follow suit and the story becomes a crawl.