Peaceful Goodbye – A Short Story

My eyes were parched, yet I kept them open, watching you as I did when you walked to the school bus. It seemed like such a long way for you to walk with your little legs. I told you not to look back, that looking back would make it harder, and I wanted us to have a “peaceful goodbye”. Peace was the September “virtue of the month” and it helped those first days when being apart wasn’t normal.

My throat closed up, as if I could cry, choking the words I wanted to call out – I love you! I’m proud of you! But you didn’t need to hear that – your humility and compassion allowed you to understand more than your 4 year old self should.

My heart slowed, a molasses drip, wondering what you were thinking as your tiny feet plodded on. Perseverance and courage might as well be etched on your retreating back. But the little wrinkles on your forehead would spell curiosity – we had that common. I wanted to help you, but you respectfully said you would go alone and that I should stay. I would have held you back, you honestly said. You knew I wouldn’t want that. Oh, how wise you had become!

My breath hitched and I was afraid – afraid you wouldn’t find the joy that I knew you deserved. But you didn’t look back and when you started to run – that’s when I knew:

You were going to where you truly belonged.

This short story is in response to Hélène Viallant’s “What do you see?” Picture prompt. There were so many ways to respond to this picture that Hélène posted – it could be scary or exciting or sad. It could have elements of science fiction or fantasy. Or a metaphor. My story is a little bit of all that. The back story could be that the world is coming to an end, the mother left behind to perish watching the sole survivor, her child, walking towards the unknown. Is it hopeful? Or ominous?

I also incorporated several virtues (or values) from Montessori education to fulfill Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt request to “tell us about values gone awry”. My children attend a Montessori school and these virtues are lessons that are incorporated in the classroom and that I also try to utilize and exemplify at home. This whole child viewpoint of teaching is one of the reasons I love Montessori education.

While I’m not sure my story is one of values gone wrong, it does remind me of the saying “good guys finish last”. But do they really? If they believe their behavior, their sacrifice is for a noble cause, are they finishing last or being the first hero?