In Memory - A Flash Fiction Story
Henry couldn’t recall the last time he’d been here on a Thursday. If he had to wager a guess, it was probably a first for him. Henry’s work schedule rarely permitted weekday visits. But here he was standing in Aidan’s living room, looking on with a curious eye.
They’d just finished a hearty lunch, and Henry watched as Aidan unfolded a quilt, laying it on top of the couch’s headrest and allowing it to drape over the front of the sofa. Aidan glided a hand along the blanket, smoothing the fabric before taking a step back to admire it.
The quilt had a checkered pattern over top of a sky-blue background, gold trim adorning its edges. Henry counted twelve squares, all of them displaying sunflowers. He also noticed birds, bees, and butterflies peppered throughout the design.
A musical chime caught Henry’s attention, his eyes gravitating toward the source of the sound. He spotted a grandfather clock in the corner of the room, the pendulum moving in a rhythm similar to that of a heartbeat. The clock face showed half past two in the afternoon.
“This is around the time she was born,” Aidan said.
“Who?” Henry asked.
Aidan met his gaze, and Henry detected a hint of sorrow in his friend’s hazel eyes. But a sense of pride seemed to resonate there as well.
“Becca,” Aidan finally said.
Henry’s brow furrowed. “Becca?”
Aidan’s lips stretched into a grin, as if a happy memory had just popped into his head.
“She was my pet,” Aidan elaborated.
In the few years Henry had known him, Aidan had never mentioned a pet. Nor had Henry ever seen one. A surreal feeling washed over him, and he stared at Aidan with renewed interest.
“It’s a beautiful quilt,” Aidan said. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes. It is.”
“My mother made it for Becca a few years after she was born. Becca loved sunflowers. And she was born on a Thursday.”
Henry pondered. Did Aidan do this every Thursday? Was it a regular tradition in memory of the loved one he’d lost? Or was this an anniversary of some sort? Henry wanted to ask, but he pursed his lips instead.
Out of habit, Henry glanced at his wristwatch. The grandfather clock had already alerted him to the time, but Henry felt uncomfortable and didn’t want to pry.
“I need to get going,” Henry spit out. “See you this weekend?”
Aidan nodded. “Sure.”
Aidan could only stand there, gawking at the quilt, so Henry decided to let himself out. As he descended the steps of the front porch, Henry noticed a familiar face approaching. Mary Shelton. Aidan’s mother. The woman’s gray locks bounced off her shoulders as she trudged along the sidewalk. Then she caught a glimpse of Henry, offering him a grin.
“Ms. Shelton,” Henry said.
“Hello, Henry.” Mary came to a halt in front of him. “Are you leaving?”
Henry bobbed his head, the wheels inside it churning. He knew what he wanted to ask her, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
Henry swallowed. “It’s about Becca,” he stuttered.
Mary raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t realize Aidan had told you about her.”
“He hadn’t. Until now. I never knew he had a pet.”
A weak chuckle escaped Mary’s lips, and Henry was taken aback.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That’s what he used to call her. His pet.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Becca was my daughter,” Mary admitted, her grin gradually fading. A tear descended Mary’s face, and she wiped her cheek with the sleeve of her shirt. “I try to visit every Thursday around this time. We all grieve in different ways, and this is Aidan’s method of coping with it.”
Henry couldn’t find the words at first. “When did she pass?”
“Almost eleven years ago. Before you and Aidan even knew each other.”
He shook his head. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
Mary managed a smile, and she placed a hand on Henry’s cheek. “You couldn’t have known, sweetie. But I’m glad Aidan opened up to you. This could be a big step for him.”
Henry fought back tears as Mary withdrew her hand. He stepped aside so she could pass, and Henry watched as Mary disappeared into the house.
Then his eyes went to the yard. He noticed a row of sunflowers along the edge of the lawn. The buzzing of bees filled Henry’s ears, and a few butterflies clapped their wings in the distance.
Henry had never met Becca. He never even knew of her until now. But one thing was certain. Becca would have loved the view, and Henry had a feeling she was nearby.
© Kevin Hopson