Faded Days – by Imogen Mcdougall (College)

Sitting there on the dry, prickly grass, she leans her back against the smooth stone behind her, twisting a sunflower’s stem in her hand. The sun is still high in the sky, but its warm rays don’t reach her, the cool winter breeze nipping her fingers. She sits there just staring and thinking.
“You’d be so proud of him, the way he just keeps going.” Her voice startles her, she hadn’t meant to speak but she felt that if she didn’t say it aloud, she would break.
“He’s top of his grade in maths and he’s excelling in science, he even joined the debate team like you always wanted. His final exams are coming up you know how he gets when the pressure’s on,” a smile crosses her pallid face, but it quickly fades to match the tired bloom in her hands.
“He always listened to you, you know, even if he didn’t act like it, he did. He doesn’t even seem to hear me, I’m trying John, I really am, but I just don’t know what to do with him. I think he’s lonely, but he won’t talk to me.” Her breath is coming faster now, and she can feel a tight knot forming in her throat, but she can’t stop now.
“I can’t sleep John; I haven’t slept since the accident. I just lie there, tossing, tangled in the sheets. I’m scared to take the meds the doctors have given me; I remember how mum was when she was on them. They tell me that I shouldn’t take the pills and then drive, I tell them not to worry. I tell Joanne not to worry too, that I’m fine and she needs to get back to little Ned. She doesn’t listen to me either.”
She trails off, her eyes fixed on the washed-out sunset, but she doesn’t see it. Pulling herself to her feet, she carefully places the twisted sunflower next to the others in the small vase, before making her way over the manicured grass, past other stones marking other lives, she doesn’t look back.

Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-04

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