Always Around

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(Very Short Story)

Little Dorothy sat in the car next to Uncle Edward on the ride back to his home, where she would be living now that her parents were dead. She said nothing during their funeral, but now had something on her mind.

“Mother and Father will always be with me.”

Edward turned his head, a little surprised. “Yes,” he said, “that is right, Dorothy.” He looked back at the road.

Dorothy continued speaking while she looked down at the frills on her dress. “They will be in the air and the ground and the trees and in everything. That is what Mother said.”

Edward pulled the car into his driveway and looked back at Dorothy when he stopped the car. “Okay, time to go inside.”

Dorothy was shown to her new room. It had a large window that overlooked a park across the street. The park had a neatly trimmed lawn and many tall old trees. Dorothy stood at the sill and stared at the park all afternoon until she was called downstairs for suppertime.

Together, Edward and his niece ate meatloaf at the kitchen table. Dorothy missed her mother’s meatloaf. She missed the sound her father made when he ate it.

“Do you like your new room?” asked Edward.

Dorothy nodded her head. “Yes,” she answered, “I do, Uncle Edward.”

“That’s a good girl. Now, go wash up and get ready for bed.”

As the sun started to rise the next morning, Dorothy lay with her head on the pillow, her new pillow. It was soft and it was clean. But it didn’t smell like her pillow and it didn’t feel like her pillow. She missed her bed too. She wanted to be in her old room, living her old life. Her mother said they would always be with her, but she couldn’t see her around and couldn’t feel her in the air.

She sat up. Maybe she could feel her parents outside, with the trees and the fresh air. She put her feet on the ground and, in her night-gown, walked downstairs and outside. She walked across the street with the cold early morning air teasing goose bumps out of her skin. She walked to the biggest tree she could find.

Edward went to wake Dorothy for morning oatmeal and found her bed empty, but still warm. The door to the bathroom was open, so he peeked inside: she wasn’t there. He quickly checked all the other rooms. Then he looked out the front window and saw a small figure over in the park across the stree. He ran outside in his bathrobe and slippers.

“Dorothy! Honey, what are you doing?”

Dorothy turned around and looked at her uncle. “I want Mother and Father.” Her eyes were wet and pink with tears. Her bare feet were dirty.

Edward ran to her and picked her up. He put his hand on the top of her hair; it was damp from the morning fog.

“I know. I know.”

Edward stood holding her for a minute, rocking her gently back and forth, and thought about what she had said on their way home from the funeral. He looked up at the trees and wondered about his sister and her husband.

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