Speed prompt, written in 26 minutes. Set after Flesh & Blood.
Bree didn’t take her usual 15 minutes down at the 7-Eleven. In fact, an hour later, I was still sitting at my laptop, waiting for the Red Bull I’d ordered. I sat back and ran a hand through my hair, checking the time. It had been ages. My immediate panicked thought was something’s happened to her!—of course it was, because who was I again?—but that probably wasn’t it. Come on, this was Bree: she’d probably got stuck chatting with the retail assistant at the store, or playing with someone’s cat down the road.
Since curiosity was having a go at my cat, I stood up, threw on my Cons, and went to go look for her.
She wasn’t still in the 7-Eleven or out the front of the house with the friendly tabby as I’d predicted. Instead, I found her in the local park, leaning on the railing of the summer house with my forgotten Red Bull in one hand. It was probably lukewarm by now.
“Hey,” I murmured, stepping behind her and slipping my arms around her waist. She leant into me, but she didn’t look up. She was watching all the people in the park.
It was a beautiful spring day; mid-20s, not a cloud in the sky. It was also the first beautiful day after a week of rain, so the families in the neighbourhood was out in full-force after a week of being cooped up with each other. The park was full of them all; chatting together on the grass in the shade, eating at picnic tables, or playing with kids on the playground equipment.
Bree was watching one family in particular; a couple with their two children. Their son must have been about five or six—his dad was pushing him on the swings while his mum was trying to take a good photo of them. “Come and be in this one, Jen!” she called over her shoulder, and a sullen pre-teen who was glued to her phone rolled her eyes and, with exaggerated difficulty, got up and posed for the photo. Despite her sour expression, the mum looked absolutely delighted with the result. “Let me just upload this one for Gran!”
It was such a mundane moment, a tiny snapshot of insight into their lives. But there was so much feeling behind it. The adoring glow on that mother’s face as she gazed down at the imperfect photo of her perfect family spoke volumes about their world. Everything was right in it, they loved each other, and they were happy.
As a knot formed in my own stomach, I understood why Bree was here.
“It will get easier,” I murmured.
I heard her swallow. Her throat was tight when she spoke. “Do you promise?” When she twisted to finally look up a me, there were tears in those big blue eyes of hers.
Fuck, I hoped so, I hoped so. In answer, I just hugged her and lead her away from the park full of happy families and back home.