As a young kid, Marty and his mama spent weekend nights in rural southern bars listening to dad play with his band. As a teen he learned to play under countless hours of alcohol-induced instruction and degrading comments from his dad.
The family went through financial hardship. There was no playing catch in the back yard. No family nights huddled by the radio. Divorce left young Marty alone with his dad in a run down shack on the edge of town. Through it all, music bonded the two of them like chords and lyrics do a song.
Marty went on to become a successful musician. He played on stages around the world. It brought him financial stability. However, his greatest joy was playing alongside his dad in the smokey bars back home.
The mother and young daughter reached the alley behind the restaurant. The girl stretched her arms toward the sun for warmth and noticed the beautiful dress hanging from the balcony.
“Mama, you tink we ever be able to buy me a dress like dat?” she said pointing upward.
“Naw! Don’t be silly child. You know we aint gonna be able to afford anything like dat. Dats for rich folks. Be happy for what you got. Now turn a’round and take dis from mama, ya hear me,” she said holding bread still in its plastic wrapper.
Molly turned away from the bright-colored dress with tears in her eyes. “Yes ma’am,” she said.
I went over the word limit. Just couldn’t cut anymore and make this work. Hopefully it does.
Peter lived a lonely life. A young soul conceived not through love but through lust. A one night stand caused by alcohol. High schoolers whose life would become all hard work with minimal reward. A life of constant unhappiness and loneliness. Add the stress of raising an unwanted child in a catholic dominated town that shuns out-of-wedlock conception. Peter never had a chance.
He understood his lot in life. He was a loner. A pimpled faced teen with very few friends in a small town that lauds macho high school players and prom queens and cast out those who are different. He grew into a man all alone.
Peter longed for the voice of Freddie or Stevie. The ability to capture an audience and give them a feeling of escape if only for three minutes. The talent to use his fingers on a guitar or piano and sooth the pain of those who look to music to escape the brutal reality of their own life. He longed for the talent to write words that inspire readers searching for healing. Words that he could express for those who understood yet never are able to write themselves.
An unloved soul searching for acceptance in life. He searched the end of the rainbow only to discover a deep, empty cauldron. His only reward was the brief view of the optical phenomenon of droplets reflecting their light. An illusion which parallels his life.
His smile hides the tracks on his skin. His escape from the brutal truth. One conceived without love can’t be loved. His pedantic life is followed by a single set of footprints on a sandy beach. Only to be swept away by the tide into the vastness of the ocean. Never to be seen again.
Yet Peter was a great actor. He walked the streets of his southern town with a beautiful smile. Content to those who knew him. A superficial expression of happiness to those who didn’t. His life a slow and painful death.
With Anthony gone, Arlene sat alone on the couch staring at the journal on the coffee table before her. Her eyes glanced up from it to the window. The rain ran down the panes like blood must have on her son. She took a sip of wine and placed the glass next to the journal. The plastic bag holding it was worn and dirty with grains of sand that once touched his hands. The room was eerily quiet. Her emotions swayed from anger to sadness.
Why did he send the journal to her? Wasn’t losing him enough! Now must she read his own words. She was frozen in the moment. Too scared to open the journal, she stood up and walked towards the wall holding his pictures. The pain of losing Michael was as agonizing now as it was when two Marines in uniform delivered the devastating news last November.
This is fiction written for VisDare. This work was inspired by the photo and written for the ongoing story The Journal of PFC Patterson. Stop by and read more about a mother dealing with the loss of her only son in Iraq and the turmoil created after reading his journal.