Laughter echoed through the house, but Elizabeth was weeping.
She clutched a teddy bear to her chest and watched her husband spin their daughter. Around and around they twirled in the living room.
She turned up the volume until the sound of their laughter muffled her sobs.
For hours she watched them. They played catch in the backyard. They danced at Grandma and Grandpa’s anniversary party. Her daughter picked dandelions during her soccer game.
When she had watched every home movie, she left the house.
She walked to her neighbor’s door and knocked.
“Elizabeth!”, Richard exclaimed, and the his mouth sort of hung open as he searched for a second word to say.
“Hello, Richard.” Elizabeth smiled.
“Hi!” he chuckled and stumbled out of the house. He shook his head for a moment while staring at the ground. “I am so sorry about what happened to…to Henry and…and Jess.”
“Why, what happened to them?” Elizabeth asked.
Richard’s mouth fell open. “Uhhh I ah…” he stammered.
“Anyway,” Elizabeth continued,” since Henry doesn’t seem like he’s going to mow the lawn, I’ve decided I should do it.”
“Yeah, I mean you can see it is really getting out of hand. It’s been two weeks now and I’m just going to have to take care of it myself.” Elizabeth smiled.
Richard stared at her for a moment then he looked at the teddy bear in her arms and said, “You know I would be happy to take care of that for you-”
“Don’t be silly,” Elizabeth interrupted” I just came by because I need gas for the lawn mower and I was hoping you had some to spare.”
“Well yes, I do.”
Elizabeth followed Richard to the garage. “Here it is, just take the whole canister.”
“Thank you, Richard.” Elizabeth smiled and took the gasoline.
“I really like that teddy bear,” Richard said.
“Oh,” Elizabeth’s knuckles turned white as she clutched the bear tighter.
“Have…have you thought about what you’re going to do with…with Jessica’s toys?” Richard stared carefully at the cracks in the floor. “I ask because my daughter, Becca, she loves teddy bears and she would take great care of anything you think you…you don’t want around.”
Elizabeth looked through Richard. She listened to the breath come in and out of her body.
“I just thought,” Richard continued, “it might be painful…to have some of that stuff around.”
“No, it isn’t. Car accidents are painful. I was in an awful one last week, I have the worst whip-lash.”
Richard walked past Elizabeth. “I will pray for you,” he said quietly as he left the garage.
“Oh, don’t bother!” she called after him, “pray for the poor man and little girl that didn’t make it!”
Elizabeth dropped the teddy bear.