As I walk down the lane, between the poplars that have grown so tall, I take care to avoid the ruts that had so recently guided the carriage that brought me to my parents’ home. I leave, knowing that, this time, I shall never return.
Many years have passed since my father, furious at me for decisions I had made in my life, drove me away with a tirade that rings in my ears to this day. “You are no longer welcome here! You will never set foot in this house again!” he yelled as he pushed me out the door. My mother stood at the dinner table, sobbing, as her hands clenched the back of a chair.
Decades have passed, with no contact of any kind. I am no longer a young man, and I never thought the time would come that my father would allow me under his roof. But then the letter came from my mother. She was deathly ill and didn’t expect to live past the end of the month. Would I please see her one last time?
A carriage was waiting for me when I stepped off the train. It took me directly to their home, arriving fifteen minutes later.
As I stood at the door, knocking, the carriage made it’s way back down the lane. My father opened the door, and with barely more than a grunt he said, “She’s in the bedroom.” And so she was.
She lay there with her eyes closed and the blanket drawn nearly to her chin, her breathing evident only by the barest of movement. I sat on the edge of a chair by the bed and leaned forward to touch her hand as it clutched the edge of the blanket.
As her eyes opened, she raised her hand to grip mine. She turned her face to me and said, “I’m sorry, Vincent. I have missed you so.” And she was gone. I sat there holding her hand for the next half-hour, then slowly released it and placed it on her chest.
I walked into the living room to tell my father the news, and he said, “If she’s gone, you may as well be, too.”
I reach the end of the lane, grateful for the knowledge that a mother’s love never dies.
Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #8 gives us Vincent van Gogh’s Avenue of Poplars in Autumn and the theme Leaving.
At 385 words, this is well over Jane’s usual limit of 200, so I’m not sure if it’s still microfiction.
Image source: Wikipedia