Candlestick at the Park

Brooke jingled her ladybug key ring before she set it in the bowl on the table by the door. Caleb was nowhere in sight; she decided that he was napping. He was doing that more and more these days, she thought. Instead of spending time worrying about his health, she headed to the refrigerator for a snack.

Nothing good.

She grabbed a handful of pecans from the bowl on the counter and sat on the couch to put her feet up. A noise behind her told her that Caleb was awake, which was a relief. She hated it when he slept all day and stayed up all night, leaving her alone in their bed. Maybe they could even go out to dinner as they’d planned and failed earlier in the week.

The bedroom door slammed against the wall, and Brooke jumped. Caleb struggled out with a box overflowing with junk of all shapes and sizes.

“What on earth have you been doing?” Brooke asked.

“I went up to the attic earlier and pulled some stuff down. I’ve been going through it. How long have you been home?” he countered.

“Like five minutes. Why would you go up to the attic? You’ve never cared about that old stuff before. And it’s not like it’s even yours anyway, so why would you go through it? It all belonged to my family. I probably couldn’t even identify half of it. Three quarters of it.”

Caleb dropped the box on the floor in front of him. “I don’t know, Brooke.” His voice softened. “I just felt like something was calling me, so I went to have a look. And we’ve never really looked at everything up there, so I just got distracted. I’m sorry.” He picked the box back up and brought it around the couch to set it down on the coffee table in front of Brooke. “Some of this stuff is practically ancient. How about I order us a pizza and we can just watch a movie or something while you look at some of it?”

Her hands began to reach out towards the box in spite of her anger, and Brooke quickly nodded her agreement to Caleb’s suggestion. “Make sure it’s light sauce, please,” she turned to smile at him, and all was forgiven again.

Caleb wandered into the next room to place the order, but his phone was dropped forgotten on the table, pizza app open, when he heard Brooke’s soft gasp from the couch. He returned the the living room to find her holding a small brass candlestick aloft, staring at it with her mouth open.

He sat down next to her. “Are you okay?”

“My grandmother…” she trailed off.

“Was this your grandmother’s candlestick?” Caleb prompted her.

“It was,” Brooke confirmed. “This was the one we used to take on our picnics. We always used to go on picnics in the park on Sunday evenings. We’d pack up all of the leftovers from the big Sunday dinner after church, and when everyone had gone home for the day, and it was just Grandma and Mom and me, she would ask if we were ready to go yet. She would pick up this candlestick and her best tablecloth, and we’d walk to the park across the street and that’s where we’d eat the last meal of the day. By candlelight, in the twilight.  Every Sunday until she died. And I’ve never seen this candlestick since. Or her best tablecloth. I always wondered what happened to them–” her voice began to break, and Caleb put an arm around her.

“I know you miss her. I’m sorry.” He pulled her into his embrace, and she sobbed freely.


TBP Oh, Hear the Bluejays!