This story is by Shanda Sorensen and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Love is foolish,” Sophie thought. Maybe if she hadn’t loved him so much she could have moved on. Maybe then she wouldn’t be sitting on the balcony of her apartment with a revolver in her hand. She had been planning to end her life for a while; some days it was hard to wait. But, as she looked out at the falling leaves, she knew now was the perfect time, the anniversary of her son’s death.
Fall was his favorite time of year. They used to spend the afternoons going for walks in the park. She would bring her sketchbook and draw as he ran through the leaves. Her artwork often portrayed leaves of all colors and shapes swirling around a small boy. His face was warm, his eyes shone blue, cheeks rosy from the chill in the air.
Sophie had almost lost herself in the happy memories, until she recalled that awful morning…
They were on their way to the park, just the two of them, the way it always was. Sophie’s husband would go to work and Sophie and Tobie would spend their time in the park. They took the long way to the park that day, enjoying the cool crisp air and the crunch of the leaves beneath their feet.
She remembered his face as he looked up at her. “Mommy can I run to the corner?”
She let his hand slip from hers. She remembered the way his hair swayed as he raced to the end of the lane, remembered the car, driven by a man still drunk from the night before, swerving out of control and onto the sidewalk. That moment destroyed everything.
Sophie’s heart dropped, pushing out a scream as she ran to where her son lay. She knelt among the shattered glass, so much like her world, and took her son in her arms. The blood that ran down her hands, the last memory of his warmth, quickly turned cold.
Her husband was consumed by the loss of his son. He thought he should have been there protect him, regretted not spending more time together. But knowing he couldn’t change things was too much to bear, so he blamed Sophie.
Within months, the marriage fell apart. Sophie wanted to believe it had all been a dream. But fall would always be a painful reminder of all that she had lost. If only she had not let go…
Pulling herself from her thoughts, Sophie began to raise the gun. As she took one last breath and closed her eyes, a familiar sound caught her attention. She looked down to the streets, and saw the dented car and the small body that lay in front of it. Only this time, it was not her son, not even a boy at all, but a dog.
Without a thought, Sophie put the gun down and ran to where the crowd had gathered. The medical personnel came and the car and driver were taken away. One by one the onlookers went their separate ways, each one thinking someone else would take care of the body that still lay on the ground.
The dog looked as frail and helpless as Sophie’s son had. The only sign of life was the small movement of the animal’s chest. Sophie knelt down and took the animal into her arms. As she held him she noticed the name sewn into his dirty and tattered collar, Toby. He looked up at her with bright blue eyes as if to say, “Don’t let go.”
As she stared into the dog’s eyes, she recalled the last moments of her son’s life. The fear and sadness visible on both their faces. Tobie’s last words echoed in her mind, “Mommy don’t let go.”
She decided in that moment, she would not let go. She would not let go of Toby or the memory of her son. She would not let go of life, but instead she would live it for them. Toby gave her something she had not had for a very long time, a reason to live.
Love is foolish. That’s what Sophie thought before she found the love that saved her life.