It’s November and the Music Be The Food flash fiction train keeps on rolling. This time around we’re looking at my favorite album of 2017–Pvris ‘All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell’. The song is called “Walk Alone” and the next piece of fiction is by Todd Skaggs. Listen to this remarkable song and then read the outstanding fiction.
Walking Alone Together
Jessie stood looking down at the dark grey granite slab. It didn’t seem possible. The woman that had been her anchor was now something less than human. This stone had her name, her lifespan carved on it. Other details that didn’t mean anything to the respectful voyeurs walking by. Beloved daughter, wife, and friend. As if those five words could sum up what she meant. Could sum up the impact she had on this world. On her world.
The rain was fitting.
Jessie always had mixed emotions when she came to visit. A sadness blended with the obligation of the grieving lover. She knew that Sam’s body was here. Six feet below her her feet. But Sam wasn’t here. Sam had never been here.
She set the white lillies down on the granite base, clearing off the remnants from her last visit.
“I love you, Sam.”
The words took her back to one of her favorite memories. In their loft. Sunday mornings. Sam would always make the coffee. Jess would always run down to the corner shop for the scones. When they first moved in they tried the overpriced coffee, but quickly found that Sam’s skill with the french press topped the faux hipster haven’s mechanical barista. They stuck to just getting the scones there. It was a good trade because,to be fair, they were heavenly.
It was a quick enough walk that Jess usually only threw on her coat, a pair of boy shorts and slip ons. By the time she got back, the coffees were done, poured, and waiting on her on the bedside stand. She would hop in the bed with Sam and their lazy sunday would continue its perfect slow roll.
They would lay together for hours. Sometimes laughing. Talking about everything and nothing. And sometimes having the intense wordless conversations that only two bodies can have. And then the hour would get late enough that the curtain of the real world would start to peel back. Reminding them both that Sam had to be ready for a flight out in the morning or something like that.. Some corporate emergency or company that needed her particular talents as a mediator. She seldom had a Monday to herself. Or to spend with Jess. Unless she scheduled a vacation which usually consisted of a long weekend in the Hamptons.
Jess didn’t mind. Not much. Not then.She was enough of an introvert that she needed some down time during the week. Sam’s job gave her time. Time to process the life she now found herself living with this woman that was everything she never knew she wanted in a partner. So much more than she could have hoped for. Time to dream that she was finally on the track for the future she had always dreamed about.
A cold Sunday in November changed all of that. The weather was cold enough that she had to actually throw on some jeans and a sweater before heading down to get their scones. She could hear Sam in the kitchen puttering around, digging in the cabinet above the sink to get the coffee grinder down.
“Back in a minute, babe.” she called out as she closed the door behind her.
It was a four-minute walk from the front door of their building to the coffee shop. She passed a few people in the street, but nothing that stuck out. Not then. Not now, a year later when she was trying to remember it. Trying desperately to recall some small detail that might have made a difference.
She couldn’t. The memory continued to roll over her.
Less than twenty-minutes later and she was heading back through the front door. Up the flight of stairs, she never took the elevator, and headed to their front door.
The door was standing open. Not completely, but enough of a gap to set her on edge.
“Sam?” she called out, the fear constricting her voice to a whisper.
The next minutes after were a blur. Jessie lived them, but would be hard pressed to tell exactly what happened. She had blocked out finding her girlfriend’s body. She had blocked out the blood on the sofa and the trail leading in to the living room. She had blocked out the detectives talking. She had blocked out the medical examiner. She had blocked out the phrases like, “Looks like she put up a struggle” and “home invasion.”
All of it was surreal to her. Like she was watching a movie, but she wasn’t. She wasn’t watching a movie. She was living it.
Her Sam, her world was gone.
Somehow, through the memory Jessie had continued to walk home. This was her Sunday now. Visits with Sam. The long walk home alone. Collapsing back in to her bed. Their bed.
Jessie rolled over in bed. She still slept on the left side of the bed. The right side had always been Sam’s side of the bed. Still was.
Hugging Sam’s pillow close to her chest, she couldn’t stop the tears. Now, a year later, they flowed as freely as they did when it all happened.
“I miss you babe.” She said to Sam. Sam wasn’t there, of course, but she was. There was a piece of Sam everywhere in the apartment.
Friends tried to tell her that it wasn’t healthy to stay in the apartment, but Jessie didn’t feel right anywhere else but in the bed snuggled up with her lover’s pillow and the memories.
God the memories.
There wasn’t a day that passed where she didn’t feel Sam’s breath on her neck. Her breast. Her thigh. Everywhere. The memory was etched in to every pore of her body as though she could still feel Sam’s fingers tracing along her curves.
Twelve months later and she still ached. Ached for a touch she would never again feel. A few one night stands when the need had been too great had convinced Jessie that there was no one out there for her anymore. No one like her Sam. No one that would know the shorthand of her body in quite that way ever again.
Lacing up her boots, Jessie reached for her coat, grabbed her phones, keys and purse. It was Sunday. Time to get the scones. She had taken to staying at the coffee shop on the corner opposite of the old shop, their shop, that opened a few months back. Their scones weren’t as good, but their coffee was better. Not as good as Sam’s, but good enough.
She grabbed a paper and sat at table in front of the large window facing out to the bustle of the street. She didn’t really ever read the paper. She mostly got it as an excuse to sit there and eat and drink without feeling guilty for taking up a stool for so long. Not that the owners had ever or would ever say anything. She just didn’t feel like taking a chance. She knew Sam would like this place.
There wasn’t a Sunday that passed where she didn’t see someone in the crowd that reminded her of her Sam. Sometimes it was the hair. The fiery red pixie cut that bobbed effortlessly in and out of the crowd. Sometimes it was the shape of the curves in a pair of jeans. Sam got away with wearing boys jeans and she filled them in such beautiful ways. Ways that the makers likely never imagined. Sometimes it was just someone who looked so much like her that Jesse ached and had to turn away.
Soon after she would have her Sam sighting, she would find that she wasn’t all that thirsty anymore and the scone lost its light flavor.
She would make her way back to the apartment and curl up in bed.
It was still their bed.
Read more from Todd at toddskaggswrites.com.