The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Chelle Storey-Daniel
“And over there on the shoreline is where I asked you to marry me.”
“Papa says I mustn’t be late.”
The old man rowing the boat kept talking, a smile on his haggard features. “And that’s where we brought our kids and our grandkids and taught them to swim. Oh, Ethel, the way you could swim. You were like a submarine in the water. That’s what everyone said.”
“There are chickens in the coop that haven’t been tended and Papa will be very angry.”
“Let me see your wrists, my sweet. Hold them out for me’”
The frail old woman held our her hands. She was now gazing skyward and gave no indication that she noticed the cuffs, the chains, or the heavy weights in the bottom of the boat at their ankles. The water was also well over her ankles but she sat unfazed. “Papa liked the lake.”
“Yes, my sweet. Your Papa loved the water, too.”
“I love you, Frank.” She met his eyes for the first time in weeks. “Honey, I love you and I’m happy to go here. Just like this.”
“Ethel?!” Frank scurried across the weights and kneeled in front of her. “Oh, sweet Jesus, Ethel! You – you made me promise. Do you remember the promise, my sweet? To – to bring you here and end this nightmare when you got to the point that –“
“I know, my love. I will be so homesick for you.”
“I love you, Ethel. I love you.”
“You must keep going, Frankie. For our family. Don’t miss me too much.”
“I will miss you with all that I am.”
The light in Ethel’s eyes dulled. “Papa swims with me here sometimes.”
Frank sighed and moved back to his own bench seat in the little boat. “I know I promised you that I’d go on, my sweet, but I just cannot do that. Not without you.”
He pulled a second set of cuffs from his pants pocket and secured them to the chain that bound Ethel to the weights. He snapped them onto his own wrists and tossed the key as far into the distance as he could manage. The water inside the boat was mid shin now and it wouldn’t be long.
Reaching out, he caressed the wrinkled cheek of the woman he had loved so hard and so well since the moment he had clapped eyes on her. Life would not be worth living without her. “Forever, my sweet. I’ll be with you forever.”
Fiction © Copyright Chelle Storey-Daniel
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
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