Life and Death

I wrote this short story in my Creative Writing class. The objective was to first form groups of four people and brainstorm seven words, whether they were adjectives, nouns, or verbs. We were to use these words in our short story as well incorporate a pregnant woman and a broken down car.  The words we were supposed to use are in bold. At first, I thought this composition would become some odd dream I would write about. After some frustration, inspiration finally came knocking. I decided to create a tragic love story, despite my thoughts about this type of plot. In the end, I was quite pleased with my work.

The sun had begun to sink into the horizon, leaving behind a mural of pinks, oranges, and purples across the summer sky. The warm breeze wafted throughout the desolate landscape of a dirt road and a pair of lonely cottonwood trees. The weeds on both sides of the dusty path whispered in return to the wind. Lucy’s dark blue station wagon chugged to a halt before it completely expired. Resting her forehead against the steering wheel, she clenched her fists and burst into tears in disgust as well as sorrow—another broken thing in her life. She stained the yellow fabric of her golden sun dress with her tears—like rain drops. Flashing back to that rainy day of the accident, she ruminated over the tragedy.

“There must have been something I could have done, otherwise why am I being punished?” she murmured to herself.

Since the accident, Lucy’s heart had begun to calcify—hardening itself against others. Before, she had been a jovial, social young woman who couldn’t cease conversing. Now, she had grown taciturn with grief and anger. She had become broken and too weary to carry on, much like her automobile which now resided along a deserted road. Lucy had put aside her chimerical dreams and desires as they would never come true now. In her possession, she had two things that remained—one kept in a jar and the other, a precious, yet unexpected gift.

She smoothed the wrinkles from her dress, her hands lingering for a moment on her stomach. Her eyes closed as she thought back to happier days. Days when the sun shone and actually warmed her skin; days when her smile would remain upon her face and her eyes sparkled with joy.

Lucy kicked open the creaky car door and stepped out in the twilight. The stars have just begun to appear in the sky. The breeze was cooler now, sending a chill up her spine. Wandering down the dirt path, she carried all she had left of him to their secret getaway. She reminisced about all the times he made her laugh, made her think, and made her never want to leave. Standing between the two trees, memories began to flood her. The summer nights gazing at the stars while lying in the grass, the afternoons when he’d race her to the treetops, but still lend her his hand to pull her up to the next limb, the in depth conversations while walking hand in hand down the dirt path. If she listened carefully, she could still hear him softly humming sweet melodies in her ear. She clutched the jar closer, not wanting to let go, but knowing it was what he wanted—to remain in those moments forever.

Falling to the ground between the trees, she sobbed uncontrollably, clutching the jar in one hand and her stomach in the other—life and death. It was the first time she allowed herself to express emotion since the funeral. She could almost feel his arms wrap around her to comfort her trembling body. Finally, Lucy worked up the courage to let him go. She opened the jar and poured the ashes over their special place. As the ashes rose into the night sky, she swore she heard his humming one last time before he was completely gone. Rising to her feet, she smiled as she looked up and spotted a shooting star, as if he were saying goodbye. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she made the journey back to her car. Lucy would visit their place every week, each time her stomach growing with life inside her—her piece of him that brought the smile back upon her face.

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