(The closing sentence for this story was suggested by Nitin of Fighting the dying light. If you want to join in the fun of suggesting a future closing sentence for these stories, click here for a peek as to what’s what.)
It had been (at last!) one of those cooler evenings after a long insufferable summer. Wallace and Blanche sat on their verandah. Dinner was over. The dishes were done. A bit of moon hung somewhere in the night.
“What is it you wanted to tell me?” Wallace asked.
“I’m pregnant,” said Blanche.
“Ah! Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid.”
Wallace and Blanche had been married for just over a year. They had tried furiously and frequently to make a baby. All to no avail – until now. It was the perfect revelation for a perfect evening. They simply sat arm in arm and looked at the moon. No words were necessary.
* * *
That was the memory that overwhelmed Wallace as he drove home after the funeral. Blanche and three year old little Rudolf were gone from his life. He had tried to save them both. The fire in the upstairs bedrooms spread faster than he would have thought possible. He had dashed to Rudolf’s room. As he passed the door of the main bedroom he paused to wake Blanche. He shouted. “Wake up! Wake up!” He sped towards Rudolf. Too late. If he hadn’t paused to wake Blanche, perhaps he could have saved Rudolf. He raced back to Blanche. Too late. Hell was on fire. Blanche and Rudolf were lost. All was lost. If only he had tried to save one, and not both.
* * *
Wallace sat on the verandah of his partially burned house. He sat there for two hours and watched the sun fade. He sat in the dark. He would never want to live there again. Blissful memories now pierced like a spear through his heart. He went inside to get two things: Rudolf’s toy truck and a beautiful seashell that Blanche had once found on a beach. That was all he would keep.
He walked out of the house, listening to the crickets and watching the moon weave her little web of light, and bathed in both beauty and regret, said, “Qui court deux lièvres à la fois n’en prend aucun.”