An Oak by Any Other Name

I have not felt this way for a long time, but then again, it has been a while since I’ve returned to this place. Home. Or rather, what used to be home. Autumn colours in their prime. We danced amongst the oak tree groves, marvelled at each vibrant leaf. We wrapped the children in layered warmth. We skipped down the breezy winding lane. A happy place, once.

Three, four, five years? Have I really been hiding that long? These memories are painful. They seep into my heart, rip out the lining, tear into the segmented chambers. Veins crumble and wither away. What is the heart’s purpose without Anne Marie?

My doctor once told me, “Andy, what happened to your wife was a tragedy. But you can’t live your life in agony. You must move on.”

I stared at him, the horror on my face presenting ghastly shadows. “Move on? Move on? How can I move on when she lies in that grave?”

He grabbed my arm, patted my callused hands. “Anne Marie is dead, Andy.”

That’s where he is wrong. She’s not dead. She awaits me now, resting in her underground bed, white lace and satin lining flecked with dirt, and maggots feasting on flesh. She screams in silence, agonized cries that only I can hear.

I knock on the door of that house. Look upon my children, so grown up. They remind me of Anne Marie. Their grandparents have treated them well.

I’m coming, Anne Marie. I’m coming.

I wander through the backyard, through the fence that connects to the cemetery. Her grave. Freshened up. Pristine. Roses all in bloom.

“Anne Marie, here I am. At last.” She rises up, spotted and gnarled, but still my autumnal Anne Marie. I tell her about my years of travel. I describe the rich tang of the ocean, the way the sun dapples across the lazy sand, burrowing itself, each night, below the salty cresting waves.

My children watch me from the walkway. They move closer, take my arms. Guide me, the blabbering fool, away from the oak tree with which I’ve been conversing.


Copyright © 2015 by Emily Clayton
Originally appeared on Finish That Thought:
Special Challenge Champion!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s