The sound of rustling tree leaves filled the air.
Mary sat motionless, a box on her lap, a shovel at her feet, and grief in her soul. She had become oblivious to the setting sun, the cooling temperatures, and the degree of the deadly numbness within.
Her friends had advised her to, “seek professional help. There’s nothing wrong with talking to someone, Mary…”
Her husband had suggested medication, vacations, children, and finally, a divorce.
“Can’t we move on from this,” he had yelled at her, “do you have to keep punishing yourself every day for one mistake?”
He had moved on; she couldn’t.
“I didn’t make a mistake, Evan,” she had said, choking on her words, “I killed our son–”
He had shaken her.
“You left the gate unlocked, Mary! It was an accident!”
“Mothers protect their children,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “I didn’t protect our baby…”
She thought it would’ve hurt when Evan left. Instead she felt a slight twinge of gratitude that his features weren’t around, reminding her of their son.
If only she could go back to that day…
She never should have taken her eyes off of him. She should’ve kept him close by as she planted the bulbs in the garden, instead of letting him run around the yard. She should’ve kept him close.
Once again, grief washed over Mary and brought the endless supply of tears. She clutched the box tighter and gripped the feather charm around her necklace until the pinnate outline was imprinted on her reddened palm.
“Oh God, why didn’t I keep him close,” she sobbed.
Like she had for the past year, Mary wept remembering her little boy, his smile and his words. How he laughed and played in the garden. How he loved feathers and flowers, and birds.
What she wanted to forget was the screeching sound of car tires and the screaming, the panic from knowing Evan Jr. was in trouble.
Life had stopped for Mary after returning from the ER without their son that night. In a rage, she had ruined the entire garden, pulling up the bulbs and the beautiful flowers with her bare hands. She had wanted everything to die. Her husband had to fight to drag her inside as she howled like a wounded animal.
Now there were fewer displays of suffocating grief. She still mourned and numbness was often her companion, but the thought of doing something for Evan Jr., occasionally alternated with her disappointment.
Beneath the night sky Mary grabbed the shovel and carried the box to what used to be the flower garden. With anger and tears, she plunged the shovel into the hardened ground. Nearly an hour later, sweat dripped from her weary arms, but she had what she wanted. She threw the shovel aside and knelt in the dirt.
Mary gently opened the box and began to sprinkle the ashes into the hole she had made. She covered the ashes with some of the dirt before planting five flower bulbs in the dirt and covering them.
“Baby, you would’ve loved these,” she said, watering the ground with her tears.