In remembrance, p.1
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       In Remembrance, p.1

           John Gaffield
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In Remembrance
In Remembrance

  John T. Gaffield

  Copyright 2015 John T. Gaffield

  ###

  Jeremy exited the flower shop and headed toward his car parked in front of the store. Upon reaching his car door, he set the dozen yellow roses gently onto the hood of the car while he fumbled for his keys in his pocket. After opening the door, he reached for the flowers and set them on the passenger seat inside of the car. As he pulled his hand toward the steering wheel, he could see it trembling. With both hands on the wheel, he closed his eyes in a brief attempt to relax. Breathing slowly for a few times, he reopened his eyes and he then started the car.

  The two-lane road he was on had been straight for at least a mile. Surrounded by the tall trees, the late August afternoon sunlight flickered into his eyes. Knowing what was ahead, he started to slow down. As the road started to veer to the left, he edged the car onto the shoulder. He gazed straight ahead for a minute before he was able to look out the passenger window to see the faded handmade white cross near one of the large trees at the bottom of the ditch alongside the road. Still focused on the cross, he reached for the flowers on the seat next to him. He then focused on the flowers as he turned to open his door. Carefully exiting the car, Jeremy slowly walked behind the car while staring at the simple cross he had made one year earlier. The tall grass brushed against his pants as he made his way down the embankment to reach the marker. When he was about six feet away, he stopped. The three flowers he had left the prior week were all black, stems and all. It was almost as if they had been charred. The surrounding grass was healthy and green with no signs of disease. Kneeling down, he touched one of the flowers with his free hand. The stem he touched turned to dust and was similar to soot. Startled, he quickly retracted his hand.

  “What the hell,” he softly said to himself.

  He then looked at the yellow flowers in his hand. He had given Jenny a yellow rose on their first date. Shutting his eyes, the memories again returned.

  She had left the house that night to visit with some high school friends that evening. They were meeting at Allison’s house several miles outside of town. Jenny never made it to meet her friends. Perhaps it was the sun in her eyes, or some other distraction, but she had driven off the road at this curve and her car struck the tree that was before him. The police had closed the case, but he never was able to fully understand what happened.

  He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. Still kneeling in front of the cross, he set the roses to the side of the blackened ones from the prior week. His eyes began to water as he closed them once again. The sound of a few nearby birds could be heard.

  “Jeremy . . .” a soft woman’s voice seemed to say.

  Startled, kept his eyes shut to focus on listening, since he was not sure what he had just heard. It was quiet for at least another minute. He slowly opened his eyes. A dark shadow moved behind a tree several yards away.

  “Jenny?” he asked aloud.

  “Is that you?” he asked after a few seconds.

  There was no response. Curious, he stood up and made his was toward the location he had seen the shadow. Upon reaching the point, he looked behind the tree but there was nothing there. With his heart racing and his breathing heavy, he looked all around to see if there was anything strange in the surrounding forest. Unable to see anything, he walked back toward the cross. He stopped when he was a few feet away. The new flowers he had placed near the marker were already starting to turn brown.

  “What’s going on?” He said to himself as he stared at the flowers that seemed to be fading before his eyes.

  The sight of the wilting flowers was upsetting him.

  “Jenny, I miss you so much. I can never forget that night one year ago. Maybe I should have driven you to Allison’s myself,” he said aloud.

  “No,” a soft whisper seemed to say.

  “What?” he asked.

  Looking around again, he could see no one close to him. Realizing he was starting to hear things, he thought it was about time to leave the site. Still flustered, he slowly turned and began walking back up the embankment to his car.

  Checking for traffic, he walked to the driver’s door and got back into the car. After starting it, he gazed one more time at the cross. As he focused on it, the white of the cross seemed to darken as if smoke was passing in front of it. Believing he was just seeing things, he shook his head and looked up the road. He carefully drove back onto the road and turned around to head back to town and his home.

  Unable to sleep, Jeremy lay awake that evening. Once again replaying the events from the evening a year earlier. He thought of the yellow dress she wore and the light kiss on the cheek she gave him before she walked out the door for the last time. Maybe there was something wrong with the car. Should he have had it checked more often? Maybe it was the breaks. How could he have prevented the accident? He closed his eyes for a moment. The silence in the room was interrupted by a faint creak of a floorboard, possibly somewhere in the room. Though the sound was soft, it was enough for him to focus on where it could have come from. With his eyes still closed, he carefully listened. A minute passed, and then another without a sound. He then turned his head to the side and opened his eyes. Very little light was filtering into the room from the streetlamp a few houses down the road. What few objects he could make out in the room did not look out of place. Thinking it was just the house settling, he lowered his head onto the pillow and closed his eyes. The sound had changed his focus enough that he was able to get to sleep within a few minutes.

  The doorbell rang to the house and Jeremy went to the front door to answers it. He could see the silhouette of two police officers through the curtains in the door. Unsure what to expect, he slowly opened the door.

  “Hello, are you Jeremy Davis?” the male officer on the right asked.

  “Uh . . . yes I am. What is this about officer?” Jeremy asked nervously.

  “Well, Jeremy, I’m Officer Tom Eastman and this is my partner Officer Sarah Finley.” Officer Eastman started, before pausing for a moment.

  “Jeremy, there’s been an accident involving your wife, Jennifer Davis.” Officer Eastman said.

  Shocked, Jeremy uttered “is she okay?”

  Officer Eastman looked down for a moment and then looked back at Jeremy.

  “Jeremy, your wife died in the accident,” Officer Eastman stated.

  Jeremy’s heart raced and his legs felt weak. Staring at the two officers, he slowly dropped to his knees. He began shaking his head and he closed his eyes.

  “No!” he yelled aloud.

  His thoughts, raced as he slowly opened his eyes. Very puzzled, he noticed he was in his bed. Daylight filtered into the room through the windows. It had been the same dream he kept having about the night that Jenny died. He looked to the other side of the bed. It was still empty. Closing his eyes once again, he took a deep breath. Gradually he began to clam down.

  A loud crash startled Jeremy’s eyes open. He threw the blankets aside and quickly made his way to the window. Pushing the curtains out of the way, he looked toward the street only to see the garbage man tossing the next emptied can to the curb. The man grabbed the back of the truck and the driver then moved it onto the neighbor’s house.

  Jeremy let go of the curtain, but stared at the window for a moment. After another deep breath, he turned toward the dresser to look for some clothes. As he approached the dresser, he saw the downturned picture frame lying on top. It was a photo of Jenny. He had put in face down soon after she had died. It just hurt too much to look at it. Leaving it alone, he pulled the top draw open to see what he could wear that Saturday.

  As he reached the bottom of the stairs, he turned toward the hallway to the kitchen. The light from the front windows provided p
lenty of light in the hallway. Ready for some coffee and something quick to eat, he walked into the kitchen. He stopped when he noticed something on the counter. A yellow rose was lying in the middle of the counter. He had purchased the dozen the evening before to leave at the roadside, but he did not remember any more in the house, and he did not even come home after buy the flowers at the shop. Cautiously walking over to it, he slowly reached out his hand. The stem seemed cool to the touch. To him, it looked freshly cut. Not wanting it to lose it, he decided to put into something. In one of the upper cupboards, he found a tall glass. He then went to the sink to fill it with water. Gently lifting the rose he placed it into the cup, which he then set in the middle of the counter.

  “Where did this come from?” he asked himself.

  Though he did not know the
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