Tell about a character who lost something important to him/her.
As Mr Miller gently lowered the body into the grave, a single tear slipped down Mary’s face. Robbie, while not the most intelligent creature, had been a good, faithful dog and she was certainly going to miss him. However, he had lived for thirteen years, and had had a life full of love and care until his death last night in his sleep. Since Mary’s back had began to play up a few years ago, Robbie perhaps didn’t get quite a many walks as he may of liked but overall she felt that he’d had a good run of it.
“Thank you for coming, Mr Miller, I really couldn’t have handled the hole myself”. Mr Miller lived across the road, and when she had met him this morning putting out the bins he had offered to dig the grave.
“It’s no trouble, Mrs Rogers. I didn’t like to think of you here all alone having to bury the poor thing yourself.”
“It was really very kind of you. After we’ve finished, would you like to come in for a cup of tea? The house will seem so empty without Robbie pottering around and I have a packet of biscuits I’ve been waiting to open for a while.”
“That sounds just fine”, he replied, smiling at her.
As he began to fill in the grave, Mary thought about Mr Miller. Though had moved in over a year ago with his wife and two teenaged children, she had never had much to do with the family apart from some brief greetings if they happened to meet in the street. He was a tall man, perhaps in his early forties, with sandy hair slightly greying at the temples and eyes the colour of a Caribbean sea. His elder son, who would be about 15, reminded Mary almost painfully of her late son, dear Henry. Though they differed in appearance, there was something in his manner, maybe his light, almost graceful gait or his understated, shy smile that made her particularly fond of the boy.
Mr Miller patted the last of the dirt onto the grave and stood up, wiping sweat off his brow.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to take you up on that cup of tea as it will make me reach boiling point”, he laughed.
“How about some sherry? I have some in the kitchen, just for cooking, of course”.
“Oh, alright. As long as you don’t tell the wife.”
As they moved into the house Mr Miller paused, examining the photos that adorned the mantlepiece. “Are they your kids?” he asked, pointing at a picture taken of the family when Janet and Henry were about fourteen and twelve.
“Yes, yes. That’s my late husband, Walter, God rest his soul. That’s Janet, she is a teacher over in America, and that’s Henry, who is unfortunately no longer with us”
“I’m very sorry for your losses. If you don’t mind me saying so, Mrs Rogers, you were a bit of a dish. Are they your grandkids?” moving onto another picture.
Mary laughed. “Thank you. Yes, they’re Janet’s girls.”
It had been a while since Mary had seen Janet’s family. It was hard to believe Julie, the eldest child, would be turning sixteen in a few weeks. Mary only remembered her as a little girl of nine, tugging at her Nan’s dress to show her a painting. It was hard to know what teenagers of today liked, but with the help of a shop assistant who had assured her that it was ‘like, the new thing’, she had selected a poster book of a boy band as well as a scarf Mary had spent weeks knitting. Mary wanted the gift to be something special, something that Julie would remember so in the folds of the wrapping paper she had placed a gold brooch that had been her mother’s. It was shaped like a bird in flight, very pretty and very expensive.
“The states, hey.” said Mr Miller, snapping Mary from her reverie. “That must be a bit of a trip. Where abouts are they?”
“They live in Los Angeles. I’ve never been though. I don’t think I’m up to traveling and they’re very busy over there and don’t have much time to journey all this way.”
Mary worried about them, so far away and in Los Angeles, a place that seemed to be rife with drug wars, crime, slums and God knows what else according to the papers. She didn’t like to think of her only grand children growing up among dirt and squalor, even if Janet insisted that they lived in one of the nicest parts of the city. Probably one of the most expensive too, as Janet’s husband Scott earned a hefty salary as a dentist. Mary secretly thought Scott was the dullest person she had had the displeasure to meet thus far and dread the times when he was would answer the phone, but Janet seemed content. Janet was a P.E teacher in the nice private school the girls attended. She had always loved sport, and excelled particularly in long distance running. Mary was glad Janet was doing something she enjoyed, though privately she thought her only daughter had a too monotonous delivery to leave any sort of lasting impression on students. Still, like she had always done, Janet would produce a satisfactory result, not exceptional but not displeasing.
Mary realized that she had again slipped into her own thoughts and was neglecting her guest. She smiled apologetically at Mr Miller and went to fetch the drinks and biscuits.
Later, after Mr Miller had returned to his own family, Mary was left alone in the house. Once it had been a very nice home, but now with no one to do any work on it, the place was falling into a state of disrepair. Mary tried her hardest to keep on top of the housework, but her bad back only allowed her small periods of activity and it was quite a big house, even bigger now there was no family to fill it with life. Still, she soldiered on and made sure to keep the guest room and parlour especially nice in case of any unexpected visitors.
Indeed, it seemed huge now, without even Robbie to fend away some of the emptiness. Janet wanted her mother to move into a retirement home, but Mary had always refused, insisting that she had lived most of her life here and was going to die in her home. Now, however, she wondered if Janet might be right. Her back was only going to get worse, and all alone something might happen and no one would know! There was a nice looking place just out of town, with a miniature golf course. Retirement homes were really like a permanent hotel, only more personalized, weren’t they? And they were full of bridge clubs and other social gatherings. She would have to remember to phone up, just take a look to see if it might be for her…
The piano was open, and Mary ran her fingers over the keys. She remembered when the children used to take lessons on it. Janet had applied herself with the indifference that earned her middling marks at school, but Henry had really taken to it. While Janet plodded through the pieces with not an ounce of passion, Henry had danced through them with emotion and perfect technique. When Mary was finally unable to bear Janet’s total lack of talent and had discontinued lessons, Henry opted to stay on and excelled. Walter, who was an accomplished clarinetist, used to play duets with Henry. One year, they had even performed at the annual town concert. Mary smiled at that memory. Walter had been such a good father, always finding time to practice with Henry or attend Janet’s netball games. She really missed him and when he had died from a stroke seven years ago she had hardly the strength to go on. “Still, the good Lord knows when it is time to give and take”, she murmured.
But sitting alone in the dust coated house at age 82, with her roses wilting and the grass badly needing mown, she wasn’t so sure.