The phone rang, and Walt looked at his wife, Nan, who had insisted they keep the landline. Just in case Theo ever tried to call. 

Walt answered. “Gwen, it’s good to hear from you.” 

“You sound well, Dad.” She paused.  “How’s mom?”

“She agreed to an outing. A picnic under the cherry blossoms. Where we met.”

“She agreed to leave the house?”

“Luckily, she listens to her doctor and counselor occasionally. ” 

“Let me know how it goes, Dad.”

Walt hung up and turned to Nan. “How about pimiento on rye for our picnic?”

Nan studied her hands. “Whatever you think.”

An hour later, they were settled under the trees. Walt attempted to hand Nan her sandwich, but she gazed upward. 

“What do you know about cherry blossoms?” Nan asked. Walt’s heartbeat quickened. Nan rarely spoke to him voluntarily anymore.

“Not as much as I should, living in the cherry blossom capital.”

Nan cupped a fallen blossom. “Japanese soldiers were told they should take pride in being like the cherry blossoms. Living short, glorious lives. Theo lived a short life.”

“And also a glorious one, I’d say.” Walt attempted a smile. 

“We’ll never know how glorious he could have been, Walt. You let go of his hand and lost him.”

Her eyes narrowed, and Walt silently cursed himself for thinking the blossoms would be a balm for the ever-present wound.

He began packing up the uneaten lunch. Nan had already started back to the car. 

Walt phoned Gwen that evening. “It didn’t go well.”

“I’m sorry, Dad.” 

“I’ll give it more time. Try again.”

“Any chance you’ve reconsidered telling her the truth? Maybe if she knew she’d been holding Theo’s hand, and he got away from her. I was there; I know.”

“It would kill her, Gwen. I knew that morning when she finally came to, I could never tell.”

“You’re a saint, Dad.”

Walt touched the fallen blossom he’d brought home. He was no saint. He just remembered the way his wife had looked and the way his heart leapt the first time he saw her under the cherry blossoms.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Such a sad story Danielle. You’ve really captured the emotion with your words. Good job.

Susan Giles
Susan Giles (@susan-giles)
7 months ago

Your twist at the end brought tears to my eyes. What love Walt must have for his wife. A well written story. Thank you.

Brigitta Hegyi
Brigitta Hegyi (@brigitta-hegyi)
7 months ago

Walt is the real hero here, I loved your story!

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

It all comes together Danielle, you kept it hidden from the reader right to the end. I tend to agree with Walt, he wasn’t a saint, it was his enduring love. Cleverly written.

Last edited 7 months ago by Eric Radcliffe
Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

An emotionally powerful story, Danielle. You let the reader get to know the couple gradually, surprising us at the end about what really happened in the couple’s past. It is interesting how the mind works after a terrible event, hiding the truth in a cloud of amnesia. Walt’s decision to treat his wife with kindness and patience really is bordering sainthood. Great writing!

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

I really liked how you allowed the story to unfold before the reveal at the end. Although Walt had little choice but to take responsibility for his son’s death knowing his wife would be unable to bear it, he did it for love, and that really shines through in your story Danielle. I really enjoyed it, very well written.

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago

A sad and touching story, Danielle. Well done!

Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti (@dipayan-chakrabarti)
7 months ago
Reply to  Danielle Burke

You’re welcome.

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Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

I think most of us will think he is a saint! Such amazing love when he is grieving twofold. You’ve written a beautiful story and my tears are flowing! Well done 🙂

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

This is so touching, Danielle. And I love the revelation at the end. I didn’t expect it. Nice one.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago
Reply to  Danielle Burke

Congratulations, Danielle. You did it.

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