LISTEN • by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

Her shoes lay in the sand behind her. She dipped her toe in the water and stared out at the horizon.

“I know it sounds awful but it wasn’t actually that simple…” Her voice trailed off.

She paused, sighed, and started again.

“He was a good man, as they say. Nice. Stable. Maybe drank a bit too much, but that’s not such a big deal, really. He was the faithful type. A Good man with a capital G. And yes, he was good to me. But I wanted excitement, travel, walks in the moonlight, romance.”

She ran her fingers through her short grey hair.

“I’m a dreamer, I know. It was just… a lifetime of goodness, stability, fish-on-friday and go to the theater once a month as a special treat… that’s not what I wanted. I was selfish, I know, I know. I still am. I still want you to forgive me.”

Her hands rested on her stomach. She took a deep breath before continuing.

“I sent him away. He never knew. I’m sorry, and I know you will probably never really understand. I wanted to love you, but I just couldn’t. I’m sorry.”

Her eyes filled with tears. A teenager dressed in a bright t-shirt and shorts came closer, looked at her with concern.

“Lady, you okay?”

She kept her eyes on the horizon and nodded.

He looked around him at the empty beach and then at her again.

“You sure?”

She turned to face him, crying openly now. “Do you think she can hear me?”

He took a step back, looked around again. “Who?”

“My little girl. The daughter I never had.”

He moved away, shaking his head nervously before breaking into a trot and carrying on along the coast, away from her.

She turned back towards the water.

“I think you can hear me,” she whispered.


Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is a German-American living in Spain who writes about things she sees in a room which isn’t there.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Lovely piece. Sad.

  • M.Sherlock

    Well written and touching

  • Good stuff.

    • I'm never sure what etiquette is on responding to comments but thank you again :)
  • Very sad, touching and probably very true.

    • I know someone who I could envision in this position - her regrets are more than just this one, although I'm not sure that comes across.
  • Ty

    Very lovely. Sad. Even with just a bare touch of the vague demented.

    • In my head it's desperation rather than dementia but they are very close to each other.
  • A feeling that seems to touch many women with “short, grey hair”
    But I think the “selfish” might run both ways when it comes to having children or not.
    A well written story, topical, and sad.

    • Good point! In fact, I'd be surprised if she doesn't dye her hair. I missed that. I agree with you regarding selfish - but she wouldn't see that for the choice she didn't take.
  • Oonah V Joslin

    I think there are so many unwanted and abused children in the world that it is sensible to think really hard before you have one – same with pets.

    • I agree. Although I have to admit my pets have generally chosen me.
  • She’s better off without kids. Kids SUCK. However, the story does show very real regrets that childless older women go through, even if they know that kids suck.

    Very creative and captivating.

    • Thanks, that's exactly it. Her life would not have been any better if she'd had a child, but the fantasy daughter gives her something to hold on to. If only...
  • jennifer walmsley

    Well written. Sensitive. 50/60 something woman regretting her loss, caused, I suspect, by the knowledge that old age and its disadvantages is not that far away.

    Jennifer

  • Thanks Jennifer – that’s exactly it. What happened hasn’t changed, just her perspective.