Danny Powell. Tomorrow Was Hers.

25 Jan


It had to be a note. The words would have never come out of his mouth the way he wanted. He would have stared at her and sputtered. She would have heard the words in her heart and cried.

The pen ran out halfway through and he hurried to the kitchen drawer where they kept a stash of others. He grabbed one without looking, not realizing it was blue, and missed the irony as he traced over the last fading black word on the page—bruised—and continued writing.

She was sobbing long before the colors changed. The only other time he had left a note for her on the table was the only other time he had left. It was two years before and she had known he would be back. Now, she knew he was gone for good.

They had decided on a name: Erin Emily. Everyone was secretly hoping she would have Rebecca’s smile and Charlie’s eyes. The opposite turned out to be true, but no one mentioned it. Charlie had forgotten about them and they were going to forget about Charlie.

Forgetting wasn’t so easy for Rebecca, and after Erin Emily entered the world she sat down and wrote her own note—

Dear Charlie,

I just want you to know that Erin Emily and I are doing fine. She’s sixteen now and beautiful. More importantly, she’s brilliant and kind-hearted, and she has the most amazing spirit. I thought you might like to know. I also thought you might like to know some of the things you’ve missed over the years. Well, here’s a quick rundown:

Erin’s first smile. Her first laugh.
The first time she crawled, and her first steps.
Her first word: mama. Her second word: milk.
Her first Halloween—she wanted to be an astronaut. I made the costume myself.
Her first day of pre-school. She cried and cried. When I picked her up in the afternoon, she couldn’t wait to go back the next day.
Her first time without training wheels.
Her first broken bone. It was her right arm when she fell off the monkey bars at school.
Her second broken bone. Left ankle. Skateboarding.
Her first straight-A report card. She’s only received two B’s since.
Her first Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy. The pictures are adorable. Her favorite books, too many to name.
Her first crush. Her last boyfriend.
Her first goal in soccer. Her first home run in softball.
Her first spelling bee victory. She went on to win two more…in a row.
Her love of the flute. Her hatred of the flute. Her love for it again (and still). Her vegetarian phase. Her Goth phase. Her poetry phase.
Her valedictorian speech at 8th grade graduation. Funny, poignant, and unforgettable.
Her Sweet Sixteen birthday party.
Passing the driving test on her first attempt. Her first car: my hand-me-down van.
Her smile. The light in her eyes. Her love.

—then folded the paper into a square and placed it inside a small, wooden box given to her by her grandfather when she was too young to remember.

Erin Emily discovered the box at the bottom of a suitcase of clothes in the back of her mother’s closet. She read the note, shed tears, and laughed, the memory of her mom drifting between thoughts of her 5th grade clarinet, the pictures of the pumpkin costume, the broken pinky finger, and her high school valedictorian speech.

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