The Task by Maureen Wilkinson

Mourners stand in groups. Crystal glasses filled with wine glitter in the evening sun. Sandwiches brown and white on oval plates - fillings egg yellow, ham pink, and lettuce wilts in the humid air. Muted voices drift about the garden like waves against the shore. At the edge of shadow cast by the Elm, an earthenware jar tilts toward the soil as if gravity longs for its return. Moss creeps across the base, discolouring orange brightness of its host.

I tire of the scene, close my eyes, and in the dark behind my lids, picture him before reason slipped away. Back to a time when he was a laughing, dark haired lover, a man who wrapped me in his arms and kept me safe from a changing world, a thoughtful man, and the father of my children.

In this garden, at our grandson’s christening I first saw fear and confusion in his eyes as he looked at the Elm tree, and the flower-filled earthenware jar.

'Where am I, what am I doing here?’

My heart kicked against my ribs, I took his hand, and my voice shook. 'You’re here with me, darling.’

I set to wage a war against a tireless foe and was defeated. The place that once housed my soul is bitter, but my conscience clear that each task, and every moment was filled with love. Across the garden the sun sets behind the Elms.

'Goodbye my love,’ I whisper.

(c) 2012

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