The title of this piece is Anniversary.
It's around 1,100 words in total.
This is part of a task for uni where we had to come up with five shirt stories, pick one and write about it.
A drop of rain fell on her cheek.
Sara glanced up. The rapidly greying clouds glared back. She looked down, eyeing the gravestones in front of her wearily as another drop of rain landed on her forehead and trickled down her skin. The rain drop finally came to a halt at her chin, a second later, it fell to the sodden grass.
Her vision focused sharply as she blinked, only to be obscured with moisture a moment later. Her fingers curled around the bouquet of tulips in her hands, loose petals delicately drifted to the sparse, sodden grass under her feet. She absentmindedly tucked a lose strand of blonde hair behind her pierced ear.
I will not cry. Not today, I won’t. I promised them I wouldn’t. I can’t
Several rain drops splashed on her face, creating more and more transparent lines down her pale skin. Soon, it became hard to distinguish the difference between rain drops and tears. Soon, her skin became rigid with the drying moisture, the lines on her face making her look years before her time, making her look washed out and ill.
A twig snapped in the distance. She blinked, her hand snapping up. Sara shakily raised a hand to shield her eyes from the rain. The empty graveyard told her nothing, only solitude and silence.
She scoffed quietly, shaking her head and sending rain drops flying from her wet hair. Why would anyone want to venture out in this weather? No one in their right mind would leave their warm and cosy house. Only she would. Only she ever would. Sara turned her eyes back down, her anxiety fading away. Sorrow, guilt and loss replacing it.
The glittering gold letters shone brightly against the black stone. The rain was falling fast and unyielding, large droplets bouncing off the gravestones, some sliding down the smooth surface. Sara scrubbed the cuff of her jacket over her face, screwing her eyes shut, her fingers tightening around the flowers.
Two years to the day. Two whole years and she was no closer to getting back to normal. She was no closer to accepting the truth. That her parents were dead and they were never coming back. Every single day, she expected to see them. Her dad rushing his breakfast because he’s late for work again. Her mum fussing over him, making sure he has his pack up. Her dad would ruffle her hair tenderly, kiss her head before dashing out the door, leaving her mum tutting after him.
Back then at eighteen years of age, she let her dad treat her like a child. And now at 20, she wouldn’t refuse her fathers’ affection. It was a losing battle anyway, no matter how many times she reminded him she was an adult, she was applying for uni and moving away. But he would pull her into his strong arms, mess up her hair and say she’ll always be his little girl. He’d tell her that she’d better not forget them when she goes to university, she’d better come back often and give them all the gossip.
Now…now the only reason she has to return home is to visit their grave.
A sob escaped her lips before she had chance to stop it. Clamping a hand over her lips, her eyes were still tightly screwed shut in a futile attempt to stem the tears. The rain thundered down on her, the increasing wind whipped her hair around her cheeks. She breathed deeply, desperately trying to stop the tears, calm her pounding heart.
She wouldn’t break down. She wouldn’t. She promised them.
A hand gripped her shoulder. Sara flinched, the flowers fell from her grasp and landed silently on the wet grass.
The redhead smiled sadly at her from under a large polka dot umbrella.
“Had a feeling I’d find you here,” Molly said, shoving her phone into a pocket. “Next time you disappear, keep your phone on will you?”
Sara ducked her head, her cheeks burning as rain splattered against her skin. She nodded meekly, staring down at her mud ridden boots. She felt rather than saw Molly stand beside her. The umbrella hoovered over Sara’s head, shielding her from the worst of the deluge. They stood side by side, silent and thinking.
“Has it really been two years?” Molly asked as she bent down to pick the flowers up. Handing them back to their owner, Sara smiled and rearranged the flowers, cursing herself as she straightened the broken stems.
“Yeah. Doesn’t seem it, does it?” Sara asked, quickly wiping stray tears with the back of her hand. She tried to swallow past the lump in her throat, her hands shaking as she stepped towards the grave. A gentle hand steadied her elbow as she placed the flowers down on the grass.
Molly pulled her under the umbrella as she moved back. Sara leant into her oldest friends embrace, pushing strands of wet hair from her eyes and wiping her skin free of moisture for the hundredth time that day.
“No,” Molly whispered. “It doesn’t seem it.”
They stood in silence for a few moments, both lost memories, in happier times, in laughter and smiles. Molly pulled Sara close, a reassuring arm around her shoulder to protect the blonde from the cold, the wind and the rain, from the grief and loss.
“Come on. I think a cup of tea will set us right,” Molly said and began to lead her friend away from the graveside.
Sara followed obediently, huddling under the umbrella as the rain pelted down. She kept her eyes on the gravel path. She would not look back. She wouldn’t.
The pair slowly reached the graveyard gates and disappeared into the rain.
A tall, lean man stepped out from under the ash tree at the side of the graveyard. He narrowed his eyes as he shook debris from his hair and coat. Silently, he stepped carefully across the grass and came to a halt in front of two graves. He knelt down and placed his own flowers next the bouquet Sara had left.
He sighed, letting the rain drops run down his weathered face. His hand tenderly reached out and traced the gold lettering.
In Loving Memory of
Abigail Louise Lawson
Johnathon Edward Lawson
Rest in Peace Mum and Dad
Charlie hurriedly wiped his eyes as he struggled to his feet. He stood for a moment, watching the rain trickle down the stone.
“I’ll look after Sara,” he whispered. “I promise, Abi. I-I won’t let you down, love.”
He shoved his numbing hands deep into his pockets, his feet moving of their own accord as the rain enveloped him.