This week’s flash fiction assignment from Chuck Wendig at terribleminds involved paint color as a story title. The story can be any genre and no more than 1,000 words. I used 965 words.
She waited patiently, as she had every day for longer than she cared to count.
Amelia Barrons sat with her back straight, her hands folded demurely on her lap, and her ankles crossed beneath a lace-trimmed skirt. A small silk hat was anchored with an ornate hat pin atop the feminine tumble of her hair, fashionably rolled back and up on each side and secured with combs. Her long lashes, darkened with mascara, shaded her gold-flecked brown eyes from the glare of the day.
The warmth from the sun-bleached slats of the weathered bench radiated through the silk of her white dress, and the satin of her slip. A gentle breeze shifted the loose curls that fell below her youthful face and around her slim neck, momentarily obscuring the slight curve of her cherry red lips. She sniffed with deep appreciation. Her favorite flower was in full bloom.
A crowd gathered nearby, and she didn’t mind that no one noticed her. She loved to watch people, especially when they didn’t know they were being watched. There were no children among the growing group of men and women, none of whom were under fifty years, she guessed. She giggled quietly at their somber clothing and shook her head with a knowing grin that sent sparks of amusement to her eyes.
“If you only knew,” she said to them.
An elderly woman glanced toward the bench, stared for a long moment while her head tilted first to one side and then the other, and her eyebrows drew together. Amelia froze even though she hadn’t moved a muscle, and held her breath.
Even as she prayed she wasn’t seen, Amelia unabashedly took in the woman’s appearance. It brought an involuntary smile to her face.
She was dressed in deep shades of lilac, punctuated by glints of white. The tightly woven, dyed straw hat atop her neatly coiffed white hair sported a wide brim that cast purple shadows across her careworn face. A froth of white lace rose out of the hazy darkness of her smart suit coat to tickle her chin. The notched hem of the coat just skimmed her hips, below which a trumpet-flare skirt flirted with trim, stocking-clad ankles. Simple leather Mary Janes, in a shade of lilac found in a bush’s shadowy interior, completed the outfit.
The woman blinked several times as though to clear her vision. Her white-gloved hands tightened and loosened repeatedly across the top of her white leather clutch, and then shrugged her shoulders and turned away. Amelia relaxed, and returned to her people-watching.
Eight men approached. They walked stiffly, two-by-two, their faces grim and slightly strained. Amelia stood and pressed a hand to her heart. He had arrived.
When the men made an awkward turn to the right, she was able to see him. He looked straight ahead. Confusion clouded his deep blue eyes, and another emotion – fear, perhaps – shadowed his handsome face. He looked just as she had last seen him on their long-ago wedding day. The formal black suit he wore fitted him to perfection.
Amelia could tell when he sensed her gaze. His eyebrows floated upward in a question, and his eyes scanned the crowd before they finally found her. She smiled when they lit up with stunned surprise, and then her smile crumpled when she saw his tears.
“John. John.” His name poured from her lips as an answered prayer. She took one step forward, and then another, as she reached out a hand toward him.
John Barrons closed the distance between them in the space of a heartbeat and gathered her close to him. She could feel the warmth of his cheek against her own, and the strength of his arms as they sheltered her. It had been so long.
“Amelia. You’re here.” He set her away from him in order to look at her but held onto her hands. His thumbs massaged her knuckles while his eyes memorized her every cell, it seemed to her. She didn’t mind in the least because she did the same thing.
“Yes,” she breathed and reached up a hand to smooth his face. Her fingers strayed into his hair, and he turned his head to nuzzle her palm. A tear slipped down her cheek, followed by another. “Oh, how I have missed you, John.”
He reclaimed her hand with his and brought it to his lips. “I didn’t think I would see you again, my Amelia.” He kissed each of her fingers, and then caught her face with his hands. Their gazes locked, and he lowered his mouth to hers in a kiss that had waited seventy years.
Amelia closed her eyes as the kiss deepened and intensified. She sighed when John removed his lips to kiss away the tears on her cheeks.
“I love you, Amelia Barrons.” John’s voice was hoarse with unshed tears, and his eyes shimmered with them.
“And I love you, Jonathon Barrons.” Amelia smiled joyfully at her husband.
The sound of muffled sobs caught their attention. They turned as one to the nearby crowd and watched as people broke into smaller groups and wandered off. Many wiped away tears.
With the crowd gone, John and Amelia walked hand-in-hand toward what had been the focus of attention. They stood quietly for a few minutes, and then John bent down to pick up a bouquet of lilacs from the ground. He handed it to Amelia, who brought the pale purple, ribbon-tied bunch to her nose and inhaled its delicate fragrance.
“My favorite. Someone remembered,” she marveled.
“I remembered,” John said. “I always remembered.” He crouched to brush a few stray pieces of grass from the aged headstone beside the freshly dug grave and used his fingertips to trace the letters:
AMELIA RUTH BARRONS, BELOVED WIFE, 1922-1942.