A writing prompt: Start the story with the following sentence: She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.The music swelled as she slipped into the back row.
Some of the signatures in the book had been easier to read than others: her sister’s, her mother’s. What would they say to her now? Had it really been five years since she stormed out of the house with her backpack and suitcase, screaming at her father, “I hate you; I’ll never set foot in this house again.” Hateful, hurtful words. James had been waiting and they drove for two days to lengthen the distance from her disapproving family.
“You’re too young Kelly; you’re only 18,” her father said. “Plus he’s a hoodlum, just like his old man.”
He had been right, of course. Jailed twice for theft and DUI, James had been undependable.
“I feel trapped in this apartment, in this relationship,” he said, leaving her after the first year with only a few possessions and substantial debt. But she didn’t have the courage to go home, so she got a second job and applied for financial aid to enroll in the local community college.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
She opened her purse and pulled out the torn newspaper clipping she’d received in the mail. Her sister wrote, “Come Home. Miss You” at the top. She had no idea how her sister knew where to find her.
“I miss you too, sis,” she whispered.
“For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
She worked tirelessly to be a good employee at her two jobs and a good student at school. It had all paid off; she finally completed all of the requirements and passed the Certified Medical Assistant exam. During that time she bonded with one classmate who became a special friend. David listened to her story, dried her tears, kept her positive, and encouraged her to return home.
“Mend the bridge Kelly,” he said. “Before it’s too late.”
But it was too late.
It took the handwritten note from her sister to give her the courage to be there today. She had waited until all the guests entered the building before she walked into the vestibule. She stood listening to the murmuring of people inside the chapel before she approached the memory table and the book.
The pictures tore at her heart. Laughing pictures, family pictures, pictures of her and her father.
Now from her seat at the back of the room she could see the bowed heads of her mother and sister, and the casket, stately displayed, covered with flowers. Would she be able to tell them how sorry she was that she hadn’t been there these last five years? Hadn’t been there when her father passed away. Hadn’t been there to tell him she really did love him.
"Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life."
Not for me, Kelly thought. I don’t deserve any goodness or loving kindness.
When the service concluded, the first row of family was escorted down the aisle. Kelly held her breath and studied her mother as she walked past, unseeing. The look of unmistakable sadness and loss was palpable, and tears coursed down Kelly’s cheeks. Her sister followed behind, her eyes darting from one side of the aisle to the other, then resting on Kelly. A brilliant smile lit her face as she rushed to embrace her.
“I knew you‘d come.”