A lighter shade of blue

Faithwriters.com challenge entry – Advanced – 16 Nov 2017 – Blue – 3rd place

“Isn’t it about time you got rid of those clothes?” Vanessa waved at the wardrobe full of blue dresses.

“It’s all I have left of Monica, one last physical contact.” Andrew slumped down on the bottom of the bed.

“There comes a time when you’ve got to let go.”
David grunted. “That’s easy for you to say.”

“No it’s not. I was lost when your father died. But I took a decision that life must go on, and threw myself into new activities.”

“You had your children, and now grandchildren. I only had Monica, and she’s gone.” Tears welled up in Andrew’s eyes.

“Well you could at least have kept some brighter clothes,” Vanessa replied in a softer tone.

“Blue was her favourite colour.”

“Well, all I’m saying is, you need to think about moving on.” Vanessa reached down and kissed Andrew on the forehead. “See you Sunday for lunch?”

Andrew stood and hugged his mum. “OK.”

Vanessa straightened her tailored suit and let herself out of the flat.

Andrew locked the door behind her, walked back to the bedroom and took a long navy dress from the wardrobe. Lifting it over his head, he slid it down his body and pushed his sleeves through the arms. Reaching the rear zip was a little awkward, but he managed to close it fulling, then lowered the zip on his trousers and slid them off.

Standing before the mirror, he considered the image: short, untidy dark hair, greying at the edges; black socks around his ankles; hairy calves showing beneath the hemline and a bulge over his flat chest. He snorted and spoke to his reflection, “It definitely looked better on you, Moni.”

Through the window, the sky was darkening from pink to blue. Andrew watched for a moment, then moved quickly to find comfortable shoes and a blue jacket. Grabbing his keys from the hall table, and closing the front door behind him, he headed out into the night. In the street, a passing couple glanced back in surprise, but he ignored them. Five minutes of brisk walking brought him to the top of Pendleton Hill. He sat on a bench and sighed.

“Do you remember how we used to sit here, Moni, and look out over the town? Last Christmas morning, after the midnight service, we came here again and you said it was the shepherds looking down on Bethlehem. You wore this dress, and I fell in love with you again.” Tears started to run down his cheeks and drip onto his jacket. Soon Andrew was sobbing loudly, his whole body shaking.
“Oh Moni, what will I do without you?”

Gradually the weeping subsided, and the cold began to penetrate the thin clothing. Shaking himself, Andrew walked slowly back to the flat, where he lay on the bed and closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, the uncurtained window showed a patch of pale blue cloudless sky. Yawning and stretching, Andrew noticed the dress he was still wearing. He frowned for a few seconds, then smiled in remembrance. Dropping the jacket, he opened the zip and slipped out of the dress, laying it neatly on Monica’s side of the bed.

Showered and dressed, Andrew took the dress to the kitchen and laid it over a chair as he prepared breakfast. Seated at the table, he spoke: “So Monica, mum says I need to get rid of your clothes and make a new life for myself. What am I to do?” No answer came, but when he stood, Andrew moved with a new resolution.

From the wardrobe, he took out an old suitcase, and began to fill it with Monica’s skirts and dresses. Returning to the kitchen to finish his coffee before heading to work, he lifted the dress off the chair, and began to fold it – then stopped for a few seconds. Then he went back to the bedroom, put the dress on a hanger and hung it on the wardrobe door.

With suitcase in hand, Andrew set off for the High Street, looking in the windows of the charity shops as he went. Finally, he stopped outside a shop with an elegant window display and bright blue paintwork. Stepping inside, he handed the suitcase to an assistant. “Some of my wife’s clothes. I need to find a lighter shade of blue.”

Without another word he left the shop, a smile on his face and a spring in his step.

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About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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