This piece was very hard to write… and very hard to not write. We had just said good-bye to our sweet editor, Hepheastus, a few days before the Tale Foundry community picked this prompt. Loss, even of a pet, hurts. Writing is cathartic. It is a way to get some of those emotions out. So, yes, writing this piece hurt, but it was a good hurt.
We’ve all heard the saying “write what you know” thrown around in the writing community. That extends to emotions. For example, if you’ve never known fear, it is supposedly harder to write about your characters experiencing fear. In my own opinion, writing with your emotions can make for some very strong stories.
So here is a story that you might need a box of tissues for. I still need a box of tissues.
Prompt: Beware the Empty Spaces
Bridgette approached the door, left unlocked for her by her husband. Afternoon light filtered through the screen door, pooling on the carpet inside the doorway. She stopped with her hand on the latch. Something was missing. The now-familiar ache rose in her throat, but she forced it down and pushed inside.
“Hey, honey,” her husband, Mark, said as he came down the hall to greet her. “How was work?”
Bridgette kicked off her shoes. “Long. Tiring. How’s…” The ache came back, stopping the words she did not need to say anymore. “How was your day?” she asked instead.
Mark’s gaze softened. He knew what she had been about to ask. “My day was okay. House is a little empty. But you’re home now, so it’s better.”
Later, during dinner, Bridgette absently dropped a bit of turkey into the empty space next to her chair. Mark reached out and touched her hand. She looked at him questioningly.
“You did it again,” he said, tilting his head toward the floor between them.
“Ah,” Bridgette said. “So I have.” She picked up the piece of meat and placed it with the other two she had dropped earlier.
When they finally went to bed, Bridgette could not fall asleep. There was too much pillow, too much bed, too many blankets. Even though Mark turned on the fan and a podcast for the night, the silence in their room was loud. Bridgette felt the ache in her throat rise but did not fight it for once.
“I miss him, too, sweetheart,” Mark said. He brushed one of her tears away as she sniffled.
“It’s so… empty here, now,” Bridgette said when she caught her breath. “So empty.”