The prompts have become confused due to my needing to take a break during release week, so I’m a bit out of sync. The prompts I’m writing to are wedding ring and rocking chair.
Emma sat on her front porch in an old rocking chair, the one she had used to rock her babies to sleep back when she’d been needed. Next to her was the walnut table crafted by her husband, Sam, right after they’d been married. A chipped teacup rested atop a white doily next to an open tin of English tea biscuits. She allowed herself only two a day. Hard as they were to get these days, she savored each one.
She still tasted the buttery sweetness of the biscuit she’d just eaten as she picked up her cup and drank the last of her tea with milk but no sugar. The liquid had cooled but the slightly acidic taste still satisfied. Placing the cup back on the table, she at first missed the saucer. Her gnarled and misshapen hands didn’t want to work properly these days. Her plain gold wedding ring clinked against the cup’s handle as she adjusted the cup, finally managing to set it squarely on the saucer.
Rocking the chair gently, she gazed out on her little part of the world. The ancient oak trees provided shade against the harsh brightness of the mid-afternoon sun. A gentle giant of a German shepherd lay with his graying muzzle warming one of her feet. Emma sighed with contentment. Jack had been a good and loyal friend since her husband had died a few years earlier. None of her children seemed to find the time to stop by, but Jack never left her side.
In the distance, a pair of crows raised a ruckus, and closer by, a song sparrow trilled a pleasing late summer song. Old Jack twitched one ear as a passing car honked and the occupant waved at Emma. She struggled with her memory, seeking a name for the smiling face but found none and gave up, waving back with a smile for the person who might once have been a friend, but was now a stranger. It was enough to know someone cared enough to wave.
As a light summer breeze ruffled the lace curtain in the window behind her, the sweet scent of verbena from her garden teased Emma’s nostrils. She drew her pink blanket closer around her thin shoulders, feeling the chill in the tiniest movement of air these days. Jack lifted his head without fully opening his eyes, and sniffed at the enticing aromas carried in by the breeze. His tail thumped on the wooden floor and his feet twitched a little. Emma decided he was remembering how he’d once chased the squirrels up the oak trees in days long past. But even if he had the energy, he was far too loyal to leave the side of his mistress for such pursuits these days, so he laid back down and adjusted his head a bit, making certain he touched the side of her foot, just enough to let her know he was there with her.
It was a typical afternoon for Emma, sitting on her wide porch, trapped in the reality of a body that was simply getting on in years. Her memory often failed her for the simplest of details such as what day it was, even while she could easily recall how each of her children had felt as babes in her arms, how they’d smelled, what the two of them had done on their first days of school. She could still feel her Sam’s soft kisses goodbye each morning on his way to work as a janitor in the local high school, and hear his gentle snoring when he fell asleep before her at night.
But she often forgot to walk out and collect her mail, and her next door neighbor, whose name escaped her now, usually brought it to her around suppertime. Life was peaceful rocking on her porch.
Now and again her wizened hands moved from her lap to fuss at the edges of her soft blanket, one of many gifts from her precious daughter or perhaps her precocious son. They had no time for frequent visits, and they didn’t call her on the phone more than once a week, but they still sent small tokens of their love, and she appreciated the connection each gift brought with it.
It was summertime now, but autumn was fast approaching. Emma remembered decades of watching the changing seasons, from her youth to her older years. The light was different now, fading as her eyesight slowly faded. But she recalled when she had been younger; all the colors and sounds, pulsating and resonant…a whole life ahead of her amidst that whirl of colors and cacophony of sound. Perhaps at the time she hadn’t fully appreciated all the moments afforded her as the gifts they were. But she experienced them again now.
As the afternoon wore on, her mind slipped her back to that more vibrant time. Her mind’s eye became flooded by the effervescent images from the past, and her ears picked up the echoes of long-departed sounds imprinted in her memory. And as a tiny tear slid down her cheek, Emma smiled. Life had, indeed, been good to her.