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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

by Sharon Niese

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The funeral was over. The deep pain in Deb's heart was so fresh. She had to go to her Mother's house and she knew it, but cringed at the whole idea. Her brother Jim would not be there to help her through this. Sweet Jim, where was he when she needed him? He had a knack for pulling something like this. He just could not miss any more work. He volunteered his wife Terry to help but Deb declined that offer quickly. God forbid! Terry was a non-stop talker and Deb could not imagine putting up with her. This was difficult enough without having to listen to Terry for hours upon hours. It wasn't that Deb disliked Terry, but Terry could soon get on one's nerves. No, this was going to be hard enough without that.

As Deb walked up to the small white house, a shiver went through her body. Oh, how she hated this. She felt panicky. Her head was throbbing and her legs felt like they would give way any minute.

She unlocked the front door and went slowly into the house. Memories seemed to overwhelm her as she looked around the room. The light blue drapes that covered the picture window seemed to hang so low. the room that once held laughter seemed so still and forbidding. The worn down carpet now looked its age. Everything was just as it always was. Her mother's Bible sat on the stand that was beside the dark blue recliner. An empty cup of tea sat next to it. How like her mother to leave the cup sit until morning. Tears ran freely from swollen blue eyes. Yes, so like mom, but mom was gone and would not be back to enjoy her tea as she read God's Word. Oh God, this is hard. Harder than she thought it would be. Yesterdays seemed to flash before her. Jim should be here, she thought. He should have to go through this with her.

Deb walked toward her mother's bedroom. She was shaking uncontrollably by now. The bedroom was where she would start. Why? She had no idea. It would definitely be the hardest room to go through, so why not get it over with first. She swung the bedroom door open, and it hit the wall with a thud. Deb jumped back. Why had she swung the door so hard? What was the matter with her? She was angry with herself. She had to get control of herself. Deb wiped the tears from her face and looked around the room. Lavender carpet covered the floor. Bright purple flowered curtains covered the narrow window. Oh, how her mom loved purple. She had even painted the walls a light purple. This was definitely her mother's room. Deb felt her legs give way as she sunk down onto the floor. She could not do this. There was no way. The very thought of her mother being gone hurt unbearably.

Deb sat back on the floor and her thoughts went back, back in time. She could visualize the very day Dad had gotten killed in a car accident and how her mother, although full of pain, held them together. Her mom had an inner strength, one she wished she possessed right now. Deb remembered how her mother told both Jim and her over and over that God would take care of them. But at the age of thirteen Deb wondered how He could do that. He hadn't taken care of her dad. Yet, mom's faith was strong. The days passed into months and the months to years. Oh yes, we were still a family. Stronger because of the pain we shared and the love that bonded us even closer. Now who was going to keep them together? Mom was gone. "Oh God!" she cried. "Help me, please help me."

Deb started to push herself off the floor, but she noticed a box under her Mom's bed. She crawled over to the bed and pulled out the faded floral box. What in the world was this? She could not remember ever seeing it before. The box was old and had seen better days. She eased back off her knees and with trembling hands opened up the box. Deb gasped. The box contained cards and things both Jim and she had made while in school. Report cards were secured by a rubber band. Cards, so many cards, each stack tied with a purple ribbon. What in the world was all this stuff doing in this old box? Why did her mom keep all of it? Questions filled her mind. Deb slowly started to lift the articles out of the box. "Oh Mom, you kept everything we made you, didn't you?" Each item she took out had a memory for her. Then she noticed her parents' wedding picture. Deb took a deep breath and very carefully lifted it out as if it would shatter at any moment. The tears started again and ran down her face. Oh, her parents had been such a beautiful couple. She had been so blessed by having such wonderful parents. Now she had neither of them.

Deb laid the picture off to the side and picked up a small white envelope that had been laying beneath the picture. When she picked it up, she saw her mother's handwriting on the outside. She read out loud, "To my Prince Jim and my Princess Deb." Deb sat there and stared at the envelope. She wanted to open it but dreaded doing so. After some time, she tore open the envelope. Inside was a letter written by her mother. She shut her eyes tight and prayed, "Lord, help me please, give me the strength I need." Deb opened her eyes and began to read the letter written by her mother:

"My beloved children, there has never been a day that I failed to thank my Lord and Savior for you both. You have given me love, hope, and a reason to go on. When we lost your Father, the Lord and you kept me going. I have known for some time I was very ill. I kept it from you so as not to worry either of you. I gave it to my Lord. If He decided it was time for me to go home and join your Father, then His will be done.

"I have treasured all these items I have stored in this box. Each one means something special to me. There have been many days I have sat in my bedroom going through my treasures in this box. God has blessed me with so much. More than I could ever imagine. My two beautiful children gave me more joy than I ever dreamed possible.

"There is one thing I want you both to remember. It is something I told you years ago when you Father went home to be with Jesus. I went to God's Word and read to you Psalms 56:8. God does put our tears into His bottle. This is how much He cares about us. So, when I do go home, please don't cry for me. I will be with Jesus. Rejoice in the knowledge one day we will all be together once more. I love you both so much. I have indeed been blessed amongst women. Love always and ever, Mom."

Deb sat there just holding the letter for a long time. Hours could have passed and she was unaware of anything until she saw the evening shadows fill the room. She held the letter to her chest and said, "Oh Mom, I do love you. Thank you." Deb stood up slowly, her body was stiff and sore from sitting so long. She carefully placed the lid on the faded flowered box that held so many treasures. Then she walked toward the telephone and smiled to herself. She had to call Jim. Oh yes, she was going to ask him if he remembered that God put his tears into a bottle. Then she would ask him and Terry to come over to mom's house so she could share this box of treasure with them.

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