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  • Writer's pictureMicki Bare

Spirit of Ink retreat: day 7 prompt

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders meant the cancellation of a writers beach retreat I'd planned to attend at the end of March. One of my friends who is also a cherished mentor and was also supposed to be at the retreat invited me to an virtual retreat for writers and creatives.

Tomato seedlings
The tomato seeds popped!

Each day we receive a prompt. I don't always write something for the prompt. Sometimes I just don't have time—I am still working full time, albeit from home, Sometimes, my muse stops her foot and decides to head outside with a glass of wine or clean a bathroom.

However, the day 7 prompt lit a flame a little brighter than on any other day. Therefore, it's much too annoying long to post as a comment. So I'm posting it here, instead.

PROMPT: A moment of hope or grace.

The eruption of a fragile, green stalk, an upside-down U with both the root and leaf buds embedded in black dirt, was something that used to fill Leanne with a rush of excitement. That she even put the tomato seeds in the starter soil this year was astounding. Most of her time was spent peering through the glass window of ICU Bed 3, where her 15-year-old daughter lay unconscious, artificially breathing through a ventilator.

Lacey would have been the one to announce to Leanne and Gene, her father, that the seeds had “popped,” as she’s been describing the bud breaks since she was 3. Lacey loved helping plant, tend, and harvest their modest urban garden. Even when she hit the terrible teens that kept her friends behind the screens of their—

Another burst of tears. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t even close to right. The one kid who always followed the rules. Always made her friends follow the rules. How could this be happening? The girl who was texting her boyfriend and swerved off the road was fine. Lacey’s best friend Katie, who was jogging beside her was fine. Everyone in the other car that swerved to avoid hitting the texter head on was fine.

But not Lacey. No, she was in a hospital fighting for her life. And the doctor’s were pushing her parents to start thinking about making a decision.

Decision? A cold, callous word. There was no decision made to bring Lacey into the world. They wanted to wait until they were more stable in their careers and marriage before having children, but Lacey was born three days after their first anniversary. Not on her due date. Or the date the doctors scheduled to induce labor. Leanne’s water broke in the middle of Gene’s cousin’s wedding. During the vows. In the church.

The memory slowed the tears and drew up the corners of Leanne’s mouth. Gene didn’t think they should go to the wedding, but Leanne needed a distraction from being pregnant. It was a day no one in Gene’s family would ever let them forget.

Taylor Swift began blaring the chorus to “You Need to Calm Down.” It was Leanne’s ringtone, courtesy of her daughter. Lacey loved Taylor Swift and thought this particular song made the perfect ringtone for her mom after a heated discussion over a recent Instagram post.

The argument seemed so frivolous now.

Leanne looked at her screen. It was the hospital. Her heart sank. She’d only left to get a quick shower and pick up another book to read. In what could only be described as muscle memory, she mechanically picked up the phone, swiped the green circle, and then said, “Hello?”

“Mrs. Brennan? This is Cathy; Lacey’s nurse?”

“Yes, hi Cathy. Is everything okay? I was just getting ready to head back.”

“Yes ma’am. I just thought you might want to speak to someone.”

“I’m sorry?” Leanne’s thoughts tripped over the nurse’s odd statement.

Someone? The doctor? Another specialist? Was her mom at the hospital visiting her granddaughter?

There was a muffled rumble sound, then, “Mom?”

Black spots exploded in Leanne's peripheral vision. “Lacey?” She sat abruptly on the hardwood floor.

A gravelly, sleepy voice replied, “Hi mom. Can you bring my laptop? They said I can move to a regular room later and I want to catch up on my homework.”

Leanne laughed until she cried. Then she pushed out through an avalanche of emotion, “Absolutely not! But I will bring you some tomato plants. They popped!”

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