“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” Sarah said.
The breeze that ruffled her hair smelled of lilacs and cut grass. The gardeners must have gotten here early. At the edge of her field of vision, a scattering of fresh earth made a dark smudge amid the green. A flicker of movement from the same spot caught her eye—hold your horses, she thought—but mostly she ignored it.
“I didn’t think they’d find out. You didn’t think so, either. But you can’t hide the truth, not forever.” She gave a small laugh, more air than mirth. “I should have known.”
Sarah fell silent. The silence weighed on her, as it had ever since that day. The absence of another person’s sounds in her little house: the shuffling footfall, the creak of bedsprings, the occasional thin-voiced call in the middle of the night. She’d gotten used to them, found now that she missed them. She hadn’t thought of that, not before.
In front of her, the gray stone slab stood mute guard over mounded grass. He wasn’t really here, Sarah knew that, but it was as close as she could get. “Anyway—,” she said. It was harder to talk now, knowing the end was coming, knowing she wouldn’t have even this much for a long time. Knowing they were waiting for her to finish. Her throat ached and her eyes stung, but she had a thing to say still.
“Anyway, I forgive you.” Her voice rasped. “For asking of me what shouldn’t be asked. For knowing I would do it. For…” A tear worked its way down her cheek; she brushed it away and kept talking. “For being the kind of father who’d do anything for me, no matter what the cost. How could I be less for you when you needed it?”
She laid a hand against the gravestone and fancied for a moment that the warmth from the sun that had soaked into it was something more. A silent benediction, ego te absolvo. Sarah turned and walked toward the two cops who waited by a mausoleum not far away.
“I’m ready now,” she said.
The younger one, the sympathetic one, took her arm. His mother had myeloma, she recalled from their first conversation. Maybe that accounted for it. His arm gave her gentle support.
They left the cemetery, a cop on either side. Already she was counting the years’ worth of days that would pass before she could return.
Author: D. M. Pirrone writes mystery and fantasy-horror. You can visit her website at http://www.dmpirrone.net