Inspired by a Melody is a monthly feature. Music inspires our flash fiction--the songs change.
“I–I’m not sure how to say this, Kane…” Harper sat in the big recliner her husband used to use, holding the framed picture from the mantle. She wiped her hand down the glass and then swiped a tear from her cheek. “You were the love of my life, and I’m so glad I have a piece of you in Elliott. But, it’s been five years since you died. I think I’ve found someone. He’ll never fill your shoes, but he likes Elliott.”
The silence in the house was deafening. Elliott had left the soccer game with her dad after Reed was called away, so the constant, comforting noise of him playing in the background was absent.
It had been hours since Reed left, and she was beginning to get worried. He’d said he’d text her to find out the results of the game, but Harper hadn’t heard from him yet–even though she’d sent a text from her car immediately after the match ended.
Which was unlike Reed. He’d always responded as soon as he was able.
Harper turned her attention back to the image of an infant Elliott with Kane and herself. The quintessential happy little family. She remembered all too well the doorbell ringing at nearly nine o’clock at night. The feeling of rocks in the pit of her stomach. The one thing holding her back from seeing where this thing with Reed went was the fear of another visit like the one she’d received five years prior. “Kane, you have no idea how broken losing you made me. If it hadn’t been for my dad stepping in, I’m sure social services would’ve taken Elliot away. There were days where I didn’t get out of bed. Sometimes, it was a week between showers. Dad brought Elliott to me to nurse for a while, but eventually, he just gave him bottles. You know I didn’t want that to happen because it wasn’t what was best for Elliott. Damn it.” She used the back of her hand to wipe away more tears.
Letting go is hard. “So, I was going to go to the cemetery and do this, but I didn’t want to be a blubbering mess in public.” She unlocked her phone and pulled up the song she wanted to play. “This song, ‘The Wind Blows’ isn’t exactly what I wanted, but I think it mostly says what I can’t.” She pressed the arrow and the song by the All-American Rejects started playing.
Harper sat in the chair with the family picture in her hands until the final sounds faded. She took a deep breath before she started. “So, I thought this song was kinda-sorta appropriate. Especially the refrain.” She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “I think you’re here. I know you watch over Elliott and make sure nothing happens to him. Every time there’s a breeze at the soccer fields, I know you’re watching him play and you’re proud of him. But, I think it’s time for me to move on. This guy, Reed, is fire and rescue, and he’s great with Elliott. I really like him and want to see where it goes. I’ll never let Elliott call someone else Dad–so don’t worry about that. I just need to set a good example for Elliott so that when he grows up, he knows he needs to make sure he gets his needs met. By dwelling on your death, I’m not doing a very good job of that.”
She was quiet for a few minutes while she composed herself.
“It’s time for me to move on, Kane. I’ll always love you, and I think Reed will respect that–but we deserve to explore our relationship without your ghost between us.”
Harper stood and went to the mantle. She picked up Kane’s dress hat and badge, cradling the framed portrait in her arm. She took the items down the hallway and went into Elliott’s room. She wiped the dust from the high shelf over his dresser before she carefully arranged the items. When she was satisfied, she trudged toward the doorway. The wind blew outside–a strong gust that rattled the eavestrough. Turning, she concentrated on the memorial and whispered, “Thank you for letting me know it’s okay. I promise–we’ll never forget you.”
She heard her phone sound from the living room and rushed down the hallway–hoping it wasn’t her dad with some tale about Elliott. He would know something was wrong and immediately return to her home.
When she picked up her phone, she didn’t recognize the number. Usually, she didn’t answer unknown calls, but a niggling feeling made her swipe right to take the as she lifted the device to her ear.
“Hello?” Her voice was thick when she spoke.
“Harper? This is Elias Martin. I’m Reed’s partner.”
NoNoNoNo. Not again. Harper’s mind reeled and tight knots of anxiety formed in her stomach. She sat hard in the recliner, numb.
“Harper? Are you there? Listen, don’t freak out–”
That got her attention. “Hi, Elias. Don’t tell me to not freak out. Is Reed okay?”
“Harper, are you alone with Elliott?”
She cleared her throat, willing away the lump re-forming. “Elliott is with my dad. What the hell is going on?”
Elias sighed. “Reed. The house fire–he was playing hero and was knocked out by a falling beam. He’s at the hospital, and I’m on my way to get you.”
“No. Just go to the hospital. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Panic squeezed Harper’s chest.
“I don’t really–”
Harper exhaled the breath pent up in her lungs. “Elias. Please. It’ll take less time for someone to be there for him if I don’t have to wait for you. Besides, I’ll need my own car.”
“Reed will kill me–”
“Reed won’t kill you. He knows I can be stubborn.” She rose from the overstuffed chair and went to the kitchen to get her purse. “I’ll leave here in the next five minutes. Please keep me updated.” She disconnected the call before opening the junk drawer and pulling out a portable battery backup and a charging cord for her phone.
From the kitchen table, she swiped her tablet so she could try reading while she waited. She snagged a bottle of water from the refrigerator and headed for the door to the garage. Hospitals are cold. Grabbing a hoodie from one of the hooks on the garage wall, she opened the overhead door and climbed into her vehicle.
Once the key was in the ignition, she took a steadying breath before she started the car. “Goddamn it, Reed. You better be okay. It isn’t every day I decide I’m in love with someone.”