The only sound in reply came from a faint robin nested in a near tree. The sky was cloudy but the sun was peeking through the cracks.
“Looks like we can take our walk today, Theo,” Elizabeth said softly as she grabbed the clay pot holding her cactus.
She held the pot gently in her hands as she began walking toward the old stump in the middle of the forest. She occasionally would stop by a marked tree to take a breath and to place Theo down for a second. The pain with each breath beginning and ending before she could finish resting.
“Don’t worry Theo, we’ll make it there in time.”
After the pain subsided, Elizabeth slowly bent over to pick up Theo and continued towards the center of the forest. There was once a time where she could run to its center and back without a second thought. A time where she smiled at every living thing around her. Now, her face had grown sullen and her bright, cheerful voice had changed to nothing more than a light whisper.
“It’s been a quite some time since we made this walk Theo,” she said quietly. “The last time we were here was after Liam died.”
“It’s funny, I’ve been keeping you alive all this time while you remind me each day of the one who brought happiness into my life.”
Tears welled up in Elizabeth’s eyes as memories flooded her thoughts. Images of her and Liam walking the path to the old stump in the center of the forest. She lowered her head and let her tears fall onto Theo’s soil. Without notice, the sharp pain came again, but this time she just clenched Theo’s pot. The stump had come into her view and she was determined to make it there.
“Thanks to you, I have never felt alone when it came to hearing bad news,” Elizabeth whispered. Her eyes now red from her tears. “Even when the doctor found the mass in my lungs, I didn’t feel as sad as I thought. I simply felt…”
“Numb,” she said breathily as she stepped in front the stump.
Elizabeth slowly sat down on it, still holding Theo’s pot tightly. She looked up to see a ray of sunlight breaching through the clouds. It shined down on the area around her.
“There’s so much I feel I haven’t done, but I know that I can’t fight this pain much longer,” she said quietly as she looked back down to Theo. “I think you were one of the best gifts he ever gave me. It’s only appropriate that I leave you here, in the place where we felt the happiest.”
Elizabeth’s hands began to tremble as she held Theo. The pain from her lungs masking the pain she was now feeling in her heart. She slowly placed Theo on the stump, scared that her trembling hands would accidentally drop the pot. She took a slow breath as she stood up and dusted off her jeans
“Good bye, Theo,” she said as she started walking down the path to her car. The walk would take five minutes, but to her, it would be as if years were passing by. The ray of sunlight would slowly disappear as the clouds began to grow darker. Soft drops would begin to fall on her face until the rain blended with her tears. Her car door closing would again echo throughout the forest as she got into the car and drove down the road.
The cry of the rain falling harder became evident until the unfamiliar sounds of a horn blaring and tires screeching were heard. The clatter of metal breaking against each other came quickly and made its way to the center of the forest. For a brief second there was silence, until the roar of the rain became evident once more. As the wind came through the center of the forest, a faint whisper, barely audible, came with it.
“Good bye, Elizabeth.”