Family Gathering by Brenda Gvozdanovic

They said it was time, so we set off; a reluctant convoy. I drove with care, from muscle memory, my attention elsewhere.

The car was silent, save for the steady sweep of the wipers across the windscreen. What was there to say? We had no words for what lay ahead.

I knew the road well, having driven it many times before, yet in the darkness and the rain it took on an unfamiliar, almost ethereal, quality in the sodium yellow of the street lights. Time seemed to have stopped and, yet, we were moving inexorably forward.

In my head, I played a variation on a childhood game: if the next traffic light is green, it won’t happen; if we reach the corner before the magpie flies away, it won’t happen. If, if, if … Too late. The worst was already happening.

We met up at the entrance and embraced, wordless; afraid that in opening our mouths we’d say the unsayable. Someone had brought food and drink. I had come unprepared.

In the semi-dark, we sat on mismatched chairs, barely-audible classical music playing in the background. All the family come together, yet apart, each of us wrapped up in our own thoughts and fears; here to bear witness.

And then it happened, as they told us it would, as we knew it must, changing our world for ever.

Dawn was breaking when, at last, we went outside; the smell of rain-washed earth rising from the garden and, in the distance, the faint buzzing of bees.

***

Brenda Gvozdanovic is an ex-pat Scot who writes prose, poetry, and the occasional travelogue. Her work has been published online at Paragraph Planet; 101 Words; Bloodsugarpoetry; and Serbiaincoming. She’s a compulsive collector of words and might even have enough for a novel someday. You can follow her on Twitter @BGvozdanovic

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