The prompts this time were:
It’s time to untame yourself
Bleeding for you/Not bleeding for you
All he wanted to do was revive her
What I wrote is below.
He reaches the twenty-year mark and finally scatters her ashes at the beach. It takes as long as it takes, I suppose. There’s no schedule for grief. It’s a less-than-eventful event: the cool wind, the overcast sky, the silly selfies of the three siblings, their eyes like cats, their eyebrows distinctive.
Afterward, they meet friends at a nearby restaurant, and he orders a dry Rob Roy straight up with a twist. It was her drink. He ordered one years ago in her honor and found the taste of scotch too intense, but this evening it tastes sweet and he drinks it happily. The sunset is hot pink, and he orders Fettucine Alfredo with prawns, eats too much garlic bread, shares a good bottle of wine. No speeches or poetry. No tears.
For years and years after her death she followed him around, popping up unexpectedly in places he hadn’t invited her: the cafe that served violet mousse in Paris, the beach in Miami, under the stars that first night in Mexico. But to be honest, he conjured her up, too: under the high ceilings in Marshall Fields, at the farmers’ market in LA, those birthday parties for his youngest nephew when he baked the cake, chocolate with chocolate chip frosting, or yellow cake with fudge frosting.
In the months after his father dies, they both come to him in his dreams. They are all forty-something, and the three of them sit together catching up like old friends, drinking champagne or iced tea, and sometimes Martinis. “I never really liked vodka,” she says, and he knows this about her. “But this is delicious,” she adds, sipping on a bright yellow Lemon Drop or a pink Cosmopolitan. “Honey, this is really good.”
For years there were nightmares, horrible scenes from his adolescence revived with intensified, vivid details: naked flesh, feces, fear and confusion. Shame. But after his father dies, the nightmares stop and never return. Never. And now, after the ashes are scattered into the ocean, the haunting drums to a close, too, like contractions after a long labor, shutting down like water from a hose, first a trickle, then nothing.
He thinks of her, of course, the beautiful smile, the creamy white skin, her sing-song voice and lovely hair. But she’s no longer an apparition, just a memory of a person he once knew. It’s as though she’s finally found a new home and is settled there. They’ve lost touch, but he’s happy for her.