photo credit: Google images/Photo Bucket
I thought about sharing stories about solar eclipses, but there are so many entries on line, myths, superstitions, experiences of the recent one, that I decided, “nope.” However, I couldn’t get myself to totally leave it alone so, this is a story I placed on Watpad. I hope you like it.
Eclipse of the Heart
“Turn around. Every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you’re never coming round. Turn around. Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears.”1
The song drifted woefully out of the old speakers and past the man who seemed to be half listening, half staring out the living room window. It flowed across the room, over the breakfast bar, and into the mind of his wife who was aimlessly wiping the kitchen counter for the sixth time.
I used to know that song, she thought and her hand paused its circling.
“Turn around. Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by.”
The green stripes of the tile became fuzzy and then faded as tears filled her eyes. A drop hit her right hand. She raised that hand to her face and stared blankly as the tear randown her wrist.
“All the best years have gone by,” she whispered, just audibly. She gave a deep uneven sigh, turned around and leaned against the counter. Her eyes closed as her head rolled back.
Gone, she thought, ten years. Ten years harried with hopes and tests and trails and this method and that method. For what? A very small coffin and a dark hole. My baby, my little sunshine. So much brightness in six short months, all dark now, all gone.
She turned back around and leaned on her hands at the edge of the sink. She reached for the tissue box in front of her on the ledge and felt the rattle inside. It was the baby’s favorite, hidden there by her brother Greg, yesterday after the funeral. He had stayed with her in the cemetery for a while after everyone else left, then had brought her home.
They were greeted by her husband. “Mother is straightening up a bit. Why don’t you go lie down?”
His tone was too insistent, and she felt a knot format the base of her skull. “Where is she, Mark? What is she doing?”
He must have seen her growing panic because he took her shoulders and begged, “honey, she means well. Mother has been through many crises and heartaches. She knows best. Please.”
She yanked out of his grasp and ran for the baby’s room. Greg followed. Once there, she screamed, “no, what are you doing?”
Her mother-in-law was methodically packing all the clothes, all the toys, into dark boxes with tight lids. She calmly, without stopping explained, “it’s time to move on. I’m not taking her away. The baby will always be with us.
“Tisha my dear,” she said as she clamped a lid firmly, “you are so emotional. If her things stay as they were, the temptation to enshrine this room will be too great. You must grieve for her in pieces, until you have rid yourself of all your pain. These things will be here for you to go through whenever you are ready.” She placed the box on two others and carried them to the closet.
Those words were a further darkening of the shroud that had wrapped her heart. She scanned the room to see what else was in that closet. Greg swiftly scooped the rattle off of the changing table, nodded slightly and stepped out of the room.
Tisha ordered her mother-in-law out of her house, grabbed a stuffed cat and held it tightly. The woman protested as Greg returned, stood by Tisha and placed an arm around her.
“Mrs. Tobias, it would be a good idea if you left,” he said quietly. “Tisha is in no shape to think sensibly right now. Come back in a couple of weeks.”
She followed Greg as he escorted Mrs. Tobias out. She saw Mark standing in the hallway with a blank, faraway stare. He remained there while Greg sat with her on the couch. The shroud darkened.
“What are you feeling right now?” Greg asked.
She didn’t answer him, just shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. After a long silence she spoke. “You better go home. Your family will worry about you.”
He kissed her head gently and replied, “you are my family too. Hey, I put that red rattle in the tissue box in the kitchen. I didn’t want your mother-in-law to get her mitts on it. I’ll check on you tomorrow.”
After he left she walked into the hall. “Am I your family too?” she asked Mark. He didn’t answer.
That night she was aware of both being next to her husband in bed and being alone. All alone and gradually sinking down into a still, dark space. She heard her voice, detached and faint, crying “too much feeling spent, too much time spent, all spent, all gone.” The sinking had faded into sleep.
The song was not quite over when the radio announcer’s booming voice smashed into her eardrums.
“Why don’t they ever let a song finish?” she grumbled to herself. “I never hear the last verse to that song either. How does it go?
She sang softly, “turn around. Every now and then you’ll be a—no.” She shook her head and frowned. “That wasn’t it. It’s something about the only boy. I don’t remember.”
She shook the donut-shaped rattle she held. Fluorescent green stripes danced boldly on an equally radiant red background. Jingle bells sang enthusiastically inside the smooth, hard plastic. It’s so loud, she thought, but calming at the same time, sort of hypnotic. Maybe that’s why the baby liked it so much.
“I bought it at that gift store by East City Park.” She jumped at the quiet voice. He was standing in the doorway tracing the rim of his coffee cup with his finger. He looked down when she looked up. “I was on my way to take you two home from the hospital, and I remembered they had stuffed animals there. That rattle,” he raised his cup to her, but not his eyes, “was so bright I knew it would be perfect for my—“ His voice broke. He took a deep breath and finished, “my little girl.”
“Am I still your big girl?” she asked dully.
He flung his head up. Pain churned his usually calm countenance and flattened his usually sparkling hazel eyes to a dull brown. It stabbed from those wide, wet eyes into her heart’s shroud and ripped it.
He really hurts, as she thought, her pain entwined with his. I should have known. He’s so quiet, so controlled, he must have pulled away from the hurt.
Memories of the very few times his emotions had betrayed his quiet control shredded the heart shroud to bits. The strongest was when they had become pregnant. He not only enthusiastically yelled, he danced a circle around her. Then he picked her up and swung her around.
“I’m sorry,” she stammered, feeling the love that had been wrapped up for days. “I let my own grief blind me to yours. I don’t know how you’ve put up with me this long.”
She opened her arms to him. He took the invitation and completely closed the distance between them.
He whispered into her hair, “it’s alright. I love you, always have, always will. Even when my mother told me you were wrong, I knew you were right.”
She pulled back enough to see his sparkling hazel eyes. “I remembered the last verse of the song that was just on the radio. ’Every now and then I know you’ll always be the only boy who wanted me the way that I am.’1 I never wanted to forget that. But I think all the thoughts of giving you the large family you grew up in and being the perfect mom you grew up with pushed it out.”
He gently twisted a lock of her hair. “My mom is not at all perfect. ‘Bout time I acted like I knew that. And you and I are a large enough family. We’ll always have our little girl if we always keep each other.
“Tell you what,” he released her and took the rattle. “Let’s put this on the mantle, in front of our family picture. Then when we see it, we will always remember.”
As they left the kitchen, hand in hand, the last part of the song played in her mind. Turn around. Every now and then I know there’s no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you. — And I need you now tonight — and if you’ll only hold me tight we’ll be holding on forever. – Forever’s gonna start tonight.1
- “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Copyright 1982, 1983. Lost Boys Music, Administered by Edward B. Marks Music Co.