A New Weekly Activity: Writing Prompt #1

A character will send a package. A character is pessimistic throughout most of the story.

Donna curled into a ball, grasping her knobby fingers around her ankles tightly concealed in skinny jeans. Her head rested between one large brown moving box and another smaller one destroyed with packing tape. More boxes of all different shapes, colors and sizes lay strewn around her haphazardly and yet meticulously sorted through. Her right hand reached above her head and found a teal shoebox containing two stacks of photos. She toppled it over, the pictures spilling over the faded carpet in two rows as she turned over to cycle through one of the stacks.

There were bright faced, twenty-something adults hiking, with Donna in the center with arms wrapped around a taller man with a cheeky smile and a round face, skin tone to match hers; archery in the woods with traditional wooden longbows depicting Donna and the same man; party photos and toasts with colorful cocktails; embarrassing photos of him in women’s clothing and bunny suits for harmless blackmail; a gravestone that read “David Williams – January 17 1983-May 28 2005” with a picture of a cartoon rocket ship between.

Heavy footsteps caused the stair floorboards to creek as a large person descended into the living room where Donna lay in the middle of nostalgia. He stopped in the threshold, breathing calmly;  his bald head reflecting the daylight that so harshly penetrated the windows. She rolled over and sat up at Tim’s presence, but continued to fixate on David’s gravestone. He scanned the boxes and picked up the nearest one, – a tall red box covered in black tally marks – put it under his arm and set it on the front porch without bothering to close the front door. He continued around the room, only setting the boxes covered with tally marks outside. The gold ring on his left hand caught a section of tape and peeled off the skin of one of the boxes. He sighed, grabbing a nearby roll of tape to repair what his marriage had done.

“Micah should be here to take in a few minutes.” Tim’s voice was very matter-of-fact. Donna heard him, she thought. His voice sounded distant even though he was standing five feet away; it seemed to ripple outwards and away from her consciousness. “I know you know that this will be good for you…to stop hoarding all these things and pictures and counting the days like an old-time prisoner on the wall of his jail cell.”

Donna smiled. It was empty; promised happiness that wasn’t there. “You know, I believe you. I believe everyone when they say ‘Donna, you need to move on. Donna, you need to let go. Donna this and Donna that. Donna, what is wrong with you, Donna. Sounds like a damn oldies song.”

“Even the oldies songs dump their baggage”. He paced in and out of the doorway, then toward Donna and then back again. His hands clenched and unclenched and then attempted to drum a beat on the outside of his thighs. She watched, patiently – the tale-tale signs of a man working up the courage to step past the point of no return with his wife. “Did you ever love me?’ Tim yelled, desperately.

“I don’t want to get over it. Being in this ‘world’ makes me happy. The memories. I can’t forget.”

“Jesus Christ, Donna, just answer the question.”

She had been rehearsing this moment for a long time. “I did, until I realized that you were my second choice. But it was too late by that point.”

Tim pulled his lips in and nodded his head as he let out one over controlled breath from his nose. “I don’t believe that. Tell me the truth.”

But she just sat there, twisting David’s gravestone in her hands and waiting for her own breath to stop, her own existence to cease, just as she had been for the last ten years.

She was in love with a dead man. That was the truth.

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