Lizzie Koch’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Dear Willow
Marcus stretched out an arm and on feeling the cold, crisp sheet, he awoke. The dim light of dawn slipped through the blinds, outlining the sumptuous bed, showing he was alone. He lay, staring up at the ceiling, sleep evading him as the big, cold empty bed mocked him. He glanced towards the door where the outline of a shoulder bag hung against what he knew was his favourite shirt. That frayed and faded denim shoulder bag! Everywhere Willow went, that bag always hung at her side. She called it her ‘day bag’ which was why it was hung on the back of the door; night time called for something glamorous, chic and small; just enough room for a lipstick, house key and cash.
Marcus looked at the clock; ten past four. He imagined Willow would be hobbling along the street towards the beach for breakfast, watching the sun rise after dancing the night away, carrying her heels in her hands, enjoying the cool paving stones and sand against her sore feet. He smiled. What was the point of shoes you couldn’t possibly walk in, let alone dance in! But a whole wardrobe of assorted high heels proved he didn’t know what he was talking about.
Eventually, Marcus rose from his emptiness, stopping at the door. Touching his shirt, he smelt Willow’s perfume. It was his favourite shirt because she looked so good in it, roaming around the flat as it draped her curves; just hiding what he knew was his. He closed his eyes, feeling her smooth, silky skin as his hands balled into fists, scrunching the shirt. He hated waking up and finding her absent. He hated the worry, the wondering and the anxiousness. He hated having to listen, straining his hearing for the sound of a cab outside, the key in the lock but hated it even more that the sounds were missing.
The kettle boiled. Steam swirled around the window to the ceiling. As he drank his black coffee, Marcus saw the smiley face appear in the window. Willow always drew them. One would be waiting for him in the bathroom mirror after his shower and on the windows of his car. He didn’t mind the smiley faces but he drew the line at her leaving meat and two veg all over the car windows especially when he was stopped by the police. Another smile spread across his weary face, remembering such an incident and trying to explain the window art. Dangerous territory loomed. He hated being alone. Mornings were the worst; everything was so quiet.
He reached for the notepad and pen that sat in the middle of the table. Flicking through the pages of notes to each other, he found a blank page.
Hi Willow, he began to write, another fine morning, promising to be a glorious, sunny day. You always said the best part of clubbing was the morning sunrise on the beach and you’re amazed at how many people are ignorant to it but then, it’s more for you to enjoy. You’d hate the crowds if they descended on your special time and space. I have realised there is so much I now hate Willow. I’m not usually so full of it but right now I hate the world! He stopped, pen poised, waiting for his anger to dissipate.
I saw the smiley face you left me. Better than your previous artwork. But I still wish you were here rather than g- he was going to write gallivanting but knew it was wrong. You know how I hate an empty bed. You owe me. He paused. The jingling of milk bottles on door steps, a dog barking, a car starting. Life was waking up.
So I guess I’ll be seeing you later, all bleary eyed and moaning you’re tired. Well it’s all self inflicted Willow, Honey. And please, don’t nag me for chocolate because you’re hung-over. I’m not going to stop off to buy you any. I’ll give you a hug instead. Boy, there is nothing I’d like more than a hug right now Willow. Today is going to be tough. But then you already know that. He stopped again, staring down at the words, words he knew were false. What on earth was he talking about? Chocolate? His hand wanted to screw the page up, knowing it was stupid, but instead he abruptly stood up. A hot shower soothed him and on throwing back the curtain he was met by the smiley face in the mirror.
Marcus dressed in his charcoal suit with slim tie. He quickly buffed his shoes and took one last glance in the mirror then at the denim bag and white shirt. He gulped, taking a deep breath before closing the door.
“You alright mate?” Neville asked as Marcus sat in the passenger seat. “I guess that’s a dumb question. Here.” He handed Marcus a bottle a beer.
“It’s a bit early for this.”
“Thought you might need a little bit of courage,” Neville replied with a shrug. Marcus knew he meant well and cracked open the bottle. He’d been up hours already so technically it was lunchtime as far as his body clock was concerned. “I also got you this.” Neville handed over a small red rose for his buttonhole. Marcus stroked the delicate petals, Willow’s favourite flower which was his fault. It was their first date and he drunkenly bought her a red rose from a seller in the pub. Everyone did it and he felt a bit of a prat for doing it but she loved it especially when even now, he still bought her the single red rose when in the pub, three years later. Why had he waited three years for today? He thought he had all the time in the world. How wrong was he? The buttonhole in place, flanked by Neville, he walked into the room where Willow’s parents were waiting next to their drowsy daughter.
She looked beautiful.
Willow’s dark hair was glossy, her lips stained in a frosty pink. She held a small bouquet of red roses in her delicate hands where her nails had been painted in her favourite colour; purple. She opened her eyes and they sparkled, well at least to Marcus. They would always sparkle. Marcus sat by her, taking her hand, planting a gentle kiss on her warm lips.
“I guess we’d better do this thing,” smiled Marcus, “if you still want me?” It was a joke. nerves getting the better of him.
“You know I do Marcus.” Willow’s whisper was barely audible. A nurse adjusted the equipment and the wedding service began. It was over in five minutes. Willow and Marcus were now married, surrounded by flowers, cards and balloons as well as monitors, wires and drips.
“I wrote you another letter,” Marcus began, a tear running down his cheek. He had found writing letters to Willow was his coping mechanism,“but I forgot it.” He always forgot them. They were for his eyes only.
“Tell me what it said.” She closed her eyes as he told her about the silly heels he’d miss, the smiley faces, her late nights out as he waited for her to come home, hating the wait. But she would never be coming home, not now, after the taxi ride home ended up in a collision with a stolen car a week ago.
The tears ran freely down his face, dripping onto her soft hand. He heard the gut wrenching sobs of her parents and Neville. Time was precious and vanishing quicker than water through a sieve. Lastly, he spoke about that tatty denim bag and white shirt, before declaring his love for her always. He knew they were the last words Willow heard. The strong, caring hand of Willow’s father rested on his trembling shoulder as Marcus cried helplessly, burying his head in Willow’s fading warmth.
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I dream of sharing my work with the big wide world one day as a published author. Right now, I share flash fiction with a wonderful community of writers and friends. If you liked this story, then why not visit my blog at http://40somethingundomesticateddevil.blogspot.co.uk/ for more. Thank you. Love Lizzie x