The chimes rang. Will I answer? Through gathered lace Carla gazed at the delivery guy. He stood motionless. Carla longed for peace; an end to this agony; why live? Axel smiled his hello. She froze at the smile; he didn’t know about Cinder! Was that good or bad? Carla had no idea. He was placing two cartons of disposable nappies within the door. A chill ran through her. Dropping the smile, Axel spoke for the first time. “Can I help?”
“Cinder drowned on tuesday; it was suicide.” If only someone could take this nightmare away? She stumbled as she spoke and frantically reached for the couch.
“What do you want to do?”.
“Tell my daughter I love her”. Her eyes were lifeless. Carla’s mind moved with waves – cold, alone. “Maybe I could buy something special and place it there on Christmas eve”.
He followed her glance to the tree. “Why not decorate a tree? We could go to the mall.” Searching his face, Carla saw no sign of pity nor authority only patience.
She needed patience. “Okay”.
Stepping into the truck she felt a giggle coming on, Axel was almost a stranger she must be crazy. The noisy engine, slow gear changes, and sweet scent permeating the confined space, was somehow soothing.
“What size tree?”
“Oh! I don’t know, you choose. Can it be blue?”
“We’ll see. Will she like a star?”
“An angel.”
The mall was bedlam, Axel steered Carla through the crowd. Within the Christmas display his questions came systematic and fast. She liked these choices for Cinder. She found the most beautiful angel and tears crept from her eyes, Carla ignored them. Axel didn’t react; that was nice. She would see this mission through, only Cinder’s tree mattered. “How do I give it to her?”
He smiled. “Take it to the Salvos Crisis Centre. I will drive you”.
“Yes!”. Warmth was returning; enough that she felt ready to hug Cinder’s baby girl; maybe tonight. In her home, decorating began; branches, tinsel, lights, all co-ordinating with the delicate blue fir. “Done!”
“Then shall we go?” Axel loaded and secured her creation and within moments, there they were at the Salvos. Fear of ending the project tested her resolve, Cinder’s tree sparkled gloriously, flooding the foyer with light and a woman was thanking Carla. She had difficulty focussing, the warmth of this woman’s arm around her shoulders felt wonderful.
“Take this Carla, it has a baby Jesus inside”.
The small gift bag was iridescent blue. Today’s receipts would be kept in that bag with baby Jesus. “I’m so very tired, I would like to go home now.”
Silently she let it go ‘I love you Cinder, merry Christmas from Mum.’



Joined January 2008

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Grief is a short story.
Theme: In the moment.
Carla’s home
Truck cabin
Shopping centre
Salvo Crisis centre
Carla is grieving
Her encounter with Axel
Their project
The result.
Desired Outcome:
I expect the reader to identify with Carla;
To take a short emotional journey with her;
and to dwell on Axel’s actions.

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