Welcoming the return from my vacation (and slightly extended vacation from the blog) with a story called The Farewell. I didn't do that on purpose, but I suppose you can think of it as ironic if you'd like. Today's story is a piece of flash fiction from Christine Autrand Mitchell, a writer "raised across four countries" who's also acted as script writers, producer, director, and casting director, and currently heads Entandem Productions. Enjoy The Farewell.
By Christine Autrand Mitchell
The sea held its breath, meekly lingering like a dragon watching the resigned virgin await her fate. He silently poured her ashes into the tide pools, among the tiny purple crabs and button snails, the supple anemones and drifting seagrass. The wall of sons and daughters, lovers and siblings hid him away from the view of tourists who scrabbled joyously and indifferently among the cliffs on the promontory. It was a perfect day after all, the fog had cleared and the sun warmed the cool steady Pacific breezes that murmured past our ears.
No sooner was it complete, when the sea exhaled and the tide surged to claim his mother’s ashes as their own, to impatiently whirl them away into the depths as a dragon might show the virgin its secrets before the unimaginable – where darkness barely conceals bones and a ray of sun bending through a calcium rich puddle may reveal the glitter of a stalactite. But, there, the pulse of the ocean returned as the mourners watched the ashes remain pale, expand and disappear in the rush of a dark cyclone, one his mother might have seen cutting through a trailer park as a child in the Midwest.
His hand bore her remnants, almost white, as if he’d donned a pallbearer’s glove and thus she held his hand as she had not accomplished in life, finally showing her gratitude and pride in him. He was a strong man because he had to be, learning those cruel lessons of adolescence directly from the absence of her guidance, through her acts of selfishness. She’d been caught in a deep rut of habit that was easier to follow than climb up its rough and crumbling sides to pursue bravery. Her younger son wept silently, no longer able to rely on her to rescue him from self-propagated disasters, and this is the lesson she taught him.
The gusts off the cool Pacific waned so we could hear the ebb and surge crash spectacularly white in front of us, a last goodbye perhaps, as she dispersed through the vastness and mystery of the sea. Now she had a place to be, to call her own, a rhythm to her existence never before present.