The newspaper blows down the street, elusive and forgotten. Skittering along crinkly and scraping the sidewalk when a fresh puff lifts it toward the pedestrians where it jolts a few and lands open at the feet of one girl. She bends over to pick it up and sees a name in the Obituary Section she has known since she was a child.
Mrs. B, the librarian was the holder of mystical and fabulous information about every book in the Youth section. She had the right questions and always knew exactly the right book. The obituary was a sucker punch, shocking the breath away, eyes widened and mouth open as her life with Mrs. Boudreaux flashed before her in vivid detail.
Story time when she was young with tales painted in words, vivid and exciting.
Hunched in a long row of books whispering and giggling while sharing thoughts about this or that book.
Hanging on Mrs. B’s elbow peeking on tip toes she flips through the cards in the card catalog explaining the Dewey Decimal System. Then triumphantly whisper cheering and high fiving when she’s found the perfect book for the school project.
The tears bite the corners of her eyes and her face crushes into grief and pain knowing her BBFF (best book friend forever) was gone. Her time with Mrs. B had grown, changing since she moved out of Youth and into the Adult section of the library. She made detours into the children’s section seeking out Mrs. Boudreaux’s input and valued suggestions, but the trips became fewer and fewer. It had been months, perhaps a year since the last visit.
Fifty six is too young. Reading the obituary she found breast cancer was the hoodlum that stole her. The obituary included brief details of Ania (Zielinski) Boudreaux life and her journey to death. It differed because it included a poem penned by Ania, Mrs. B herself as her epitaph.
We’ve traveled the road
you and me.
We’ve seen the plain
and we’ve seen the strange.
Now I hold a shiny key.
A key for me and only me.
The lock it turns
opens a door
where a different new
The road is for another life
that has no beginning
and no end.
You’ll have to wait,
another time, another day,
for the road you’re on
The time will come
when you have a key
and I’ll be there
to wave and greet.
Then we’ll begin a journey,
bright and fresh and new
on the road that has
and no end.
Dropping the paper back on the ground it renews it’s skitter and floating journey. Emma pulls the hood over her head as the granite in her throat breaks free and the whitewater crash of emotions flow and she stumbles along, resuming her journey to the library knowing there is a hole in her world that won’t be filled until she finds her key.
This post was written from a prompt from Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood. It went like this:
“For this week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece in which an epitaph features prominently.
This can be a short as the epitaph itself, or the epitaph can be part of a longer story. As our New Year’s gift to you, this will have a hefty word limit: 500 words or less.
And one more thing? Since this is a new year, we want you to attempt brand new characters. We love your ongoing stories, but we are curious about what else is in those fabulous imaginations of yours.”
I give you a new character, Ania Boudreaux.