Eighteen months. Seventy-eight weeks. Five-hundred and forty-six days.
He pushed the swing and watched as it moved away from him, arched and swung back.
He missed her. Every single minute of every single day her absence surrounded and suffocated him. All the places where she wasn’t reminded him of what he’d lost.
The movements of the swing got shorter and he had to take a step forward to give it another push before quickly retreating to avoid the seat hitting him in the face. For a moment he thought he heard light and happy laughter in the air and his thoughts flew back to that morning, almost two years ago now.
On the morning of Shelley’s third birthday it had been hard to say who was more excited, his daughter or Sean. He’d wanted to rush her out to the garden the moment she woke up but Alice had put her food down and had insisted they’d all sit down to breakfast first.
Alice. Thinking about his ex-wife threatened to spoil his trip down memory lane and he pushed her out of his mind and fast-forwarded to the moment they did step into the garden and Shelley saw the swing-slide combo. He closed his eyes and heard her squeals. When she ran towards her birthday present on her still chubby legs his chest had filled with pride. He’d made this happen for her with his own two hands. This was what it was all about. This made all of it worth it. Enough moments like this might make it possible for him to forget.... He hadn’t allowed himself to finish the thought then and he didn’t finish it now, even if his reasons had changed.
“Higher, daddy. Push higher.”
He remembered Shelley’s excited voice as she shouted at him, glancing over her shoulder with a radiant smile on her face. They’d spent the whole morning swinging and sliding, having fun. It had been magical.
He opened his eyes and looked at the swing, hanging motionless in front of him.
Six months later Alice and Shelley had been ripped from his life. One moment they’d been there, the next they’d disappeared. Gone, leaving him adrift in their old family home. Anger and frustration rushed through his body. It wasn’t fair. He hadn’t deserved that.
He gave the swing a violent shove and had to jump out of the way of the back swing hurling towards him. He stepped back and stared at the seat as it swung.
Two arms embracing his waist shook Sean out of his trance.
“Any minute now. Are you ready?” Roy’s voice was soft and understanding.
“Yes I am.” Sean put his hand on top of Roy’s and squeezed lightly.
Eighteen months ago Alice had taken Shirley and disappeared, leaving only a note telling Sean he’d never see his daughter again. A small fortune later he’d found her, a court case had taken care of the custody issue.
When he raised his eyes and looked at the ground in front of the swing he could have sworn he saw the shadow of a little girl on the seat. Sean smiled, any moment now it would be more than just a shadow.
As always more stories inspired by the same picture can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook.