He walked about ten paces behind his mom, lifting first his right foot, then dragging his left, over and over. Thump, whoosh, thump, whoosh. If he had to tag along on boring errands, fine, but he'd have fun with it.
This time he'd been injured in the war, heroically of course. He'd saved his entire regiment. Back in the barracks they'd celebrated with key lime pie.
Thump, whoosh, thump, whoosh.
“Jeremy, will you please lift your feet when you walk! Are you hurt or just trying to annoy everyone in the store?”
Jeremy closed his eyes, and if he could have done so without getting in more trouble, he'd have covered his ears. How was a kid supposed to have any fun?
Unable to see, he bumped into a cardboard display of lemons and honey in glass jars. A second later the aisle was covered in rolling yellow fruit, rolling jars, glass shards and a river of sticky, gooey, precious honey.
“Look at this!” His mother shrieked. She'd meant to be a patient parent who never raised her voice. Before she had another thought, she swung around and slapped Jeremy hard across the face. That was another thing she was never going to do, and until today she hadn't.
The store manager and the maintenance man were in the aisle a few moments later, assessing the damage. Not to worry, she was told, who ever thought a cardboard display was a good idea had obviously never taken a child to the store. No, she wouldn't have to pay for a thing, really. The manager mistook the meaning of her tears.
It had been years since she or Jeremy had been to church. He'd been a baby in her lap. That was before the divorce, before she vowed to never set foot in a church again.
Now here they were, a river of tears and a sincere, remorseful apology later, wearing their nicest clothes, sitting three pews from the pulpit.
While Jeremy drew dragons on his sketch pad, his mom stared out the side window, the reverend's words providing a rhythmic background music. She let her gaze rest on a swaying branch of the giant maple in the yard, and her thoughts rest in her heart, where they hadn't been for months.
She barely heard the reverend say, “In Jesus's Name we pray, Amen,” when the prettiest Blue Jay lighted on a branch, turned its head, and seemed to look right at her.
"Jeremy's Mom" was a timed, ten minute writing assigned by my weekly writing group. I only made a few minor revisions for sharing here. The prompt was a group of words collected by each of us in the group writing two words in our notebooks (so as to not influence each other), then sharing them. The ten words collected for this piece were: church, thought, honey, key lime, prettiest, look, precious, behind, blue, lemon. We've found this particular prompt (words varying each time) helps us come up with scenes and stories we'd never have thought of otherwise, and it's helping me begin to understand how fiction's born.