Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Picture Perfect

Finally finished my story for this weeks Three Word Wednesday prompt. It is also my story for the letter P of the A to Z Challenge. Hope y'all enjoy it.

Clara stared at the photograph. The man and woman gazed happily into each other’s eyes. The children were laughing while trying to hold a small ball of fur still. Dogwoods lined the walkway that led to the cherry, red front door of a modest little house. 

No matter how hard she tried, Clara couldn’t recall the day in the picture. She kept closing her eyes and willing her mind to go back to that time, a time when happiness wasn’t just something other people talked about, but it was elusive. 

Maybe happiness had dependence on happiness, she mused. With it missing from her life now, she could no longer even recall what it felt like. 

She noticed the photograph was starting to rumple around the edges. Of course, how could it not since she held it every day. 

It was the last picture she had of all of them together. 

“Are you ready?” George asked from the doorway.

“Just a minute,” Clara replied, and then slipped the photograph back under her pillow.

George and Clare rode in silence. Clara wasn’t surprised by George’s lack of communication. It had been years since they actually talked to each other, more than just what was required. 

 “Did you get the book?”

“Yes,” Clara answered. “I picked it up yesterday.”

She knew Janie would enjoy the book. The pictures anyway. It had been a long time since Janie would read the words. 

Clara remembered when Janie stopped reading. Her sister, Rebecca, had run away from home three weeks before and they had no idea where she was. Janie had taken it badly. First, she stopped talking to anyone. Then, a week earlier, she stopped leaving her room, and two days before, she tore every book she owned up and tossed them out the window.

It wouldn’t have been a big deal for a ten-year-old to refuse to read, except Janie had been reading since she was three and, before Rebecca ran away, was never seen without a book in her hand. 

The middle of the next week, they committed Janie to the hospital after she quit eating. She’d been in one hospital or another for the last four years now. Rebecca was still missing, and Janie, while she would now look at books with pictures, still wasn’t reading.

Clara believed Janie would get well when Rebecca came home, but she had given up hope of that happening a long time ago.

She and George spent their nights in the same house, although in separate bedrooms, and their days living separate lives. He went to work at the law firm and her to the daycare. He couldn’t understand why she wanted to be around other children when they had lost both of their own. She couldn’t understand why he didn’t.

But that was not the only thing they disagreed on. Far from it. It would be easier to count the things they did agree on these days, than the things they didn’t. Clara was glad George still went to see Janie with her. For a while, she feared he would stop.

He had proved he could still surprise her one other time as well. She had found a receipt for a private detective in his desk drawer one evening a few years back. When she asked George about it, he told her he’d been paying the guy ever since Rebecca disappeared, and would continue to do so until she was found. As far as Clara knew, he still sent the weekly checks, even though there had been no sightings of Rebecca in three years. 

When they arrived at the nurses’ station, Nurse Andrews stopped them. “We received this for Janie yesterday, but thought we’d show it to the two of you first.”

Clara opened the letter, and with George looking over her shoulder, started to read. By the time she finished, tears were streaming down her and George’s faces and they were hugging each other. 

Clara ran her fingertips over the return address, which read: 

Rebecca James
452 Fountain Blue Lane
Rock Creek, MN 08766

It seemed that even though they hadn’t been able to track Rebecca down, she had found her sister. For the first time in a long time, Clara thought their family might be more than just picture perfect again.


Di Eats the Elephant said...

This is WONDERFUL, Angel. I hope you've submitted it somewhere. I was hooked from the opening and read ravenously the whole way through. And, it had an unexpected ending. The photograph and the reflections on happiness were so evocative. Let us know what happens with this piece.

Angel said...

Thank you so much, Di. Unfortunately, most places won't accept submissions that have been on blogs already. I am glad you liked it so well though.

The Hopeful Romantic said...

I really didn't expect it to end like that! Loved the story!!

Angel said...

Thanks. I love it when I can surprise people.

Daydreamertoo said...

Awww... I love a happy ending. Wonderful writing !!

Paige + Shauna said...

Enjoyed this story, Angel - your
writing pulls in the reader and
the stories are seamless.

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Yeah great ending, I was getting worried!

Angel said...

Thanks so much, y'all. It makes me feel good when people really enjoy one of my stories.

Sweet, you have a reason to worry about endings with my stories. :)

Tracy Crenshaw said...

What a moving story! The ending gave me goosebumps. And the way you wrote the characters' pain made it palpable. Absolutely beautiful.

Angel said...

Thank you so much, Tracy. Y'all are gonna make me cry with these comments.

Laurie Kolp said...

Angel- This is a very engaging and touching story. The ending is wonderful... it makes me want a part 2!

Angel said...

Thank you, Laurie. No plans to extend it, but you never know what the future might bring.

Angel said...

Thank you, Laurie. No plans to extend it, but you never know what the future might bring.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I'm just glad Rebecca is still alive, when you consider the usual outcome of such disappearances. Nice that in this story the husband and wife stayed together too and kept trying. There might just be a happy ending in everyone's future.

Sharkbytes said...

Hi Angel- found you through the challenge. I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. You can see my alphabet at

jaerose said...

It was almost like watching the family unfold..behind the photo..and yet you leave us with such hope (which is always good!)..Jae

Angel said...

Thanks, y'all. It was a very hopeful story, especially for me.

I will check your blog out, sharkbytes.

Sheilagh Lee said...

oh what a sad story I hope it has the happy ending the parents and the family can feel all the emotions in this piece.

Angel said...

Thanks, Sheilagh. Glad you felt something when reading the piece. That's always my goal.

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Angel, so glad you stopped by my blog and commented on Bud is Bummin' so I could find my way here.

This is a touching story in so many ways. Just when you think the marriage is down the tubes comes the surprise. The ending had me in tears, honestly. Strong write, my dear! Amy Barlow Liberatore

Angel said...

Thank you so much, Sharp. I'm glad you liked the story.