Speak Loudly for Him

by slodwick

Answers two challenges: story inspired by In Thoughts of You, by Jack Vettriano, for hyperfocused's Gallery Challenge; title from Shakespeare, for alax's Shakespeare Title Challenge.

She had forgotten how different the winter light in Kansas could be. So many years in southern California, assignments in Italy and Morocco, vacations Mexico and Jamaica, they had all robbed her of this memory. Yet she can't say she's missed it. That unwelcome light, crisp and severe, despite the soft mist that dulls the edges of the world outside the window, intrudes on the morning like it has every right, like it is welcome.

When she woke it had been dark. She moved quickly, efficiently, slipping on the dress she'd laid out the night before, the material so dark she couldn't even see it in the inky recesses of the guest room. It was so unlike her, no color, and no warmth. Walking down the hall, she felt like another shadow in the empty house, a two-dimensional version of herself, an echo.

She'd sat and watched the light spreading, flooding the room slowly. First barely noticeable, just a hint of what it would be, then gently brushing the foot of his dusty bed, rushing in gradually until it had washed the far walls in its icy, blue-tinged glow. The mirror above his dresser reflects it back, yet it gains no warmth for its doubled strength. There is no heat at all in the growing light, only illumination of things she'd rather not see, the progression of time she can't ignore.

The chair beneath her is hard despite the dropcloth, the wood she sits on warmed by her body, yet every subtle shift, every movement brings her into contact with another part, and the chill is fresh again. The coffee in her cup has long since grown cold, and she continues to hold it only because she didn't know what else to do with her hands. Occasionally, the slender silver bracelet on her wrist makes contact with the simple china saucer, and the sound is like a tiny churchbell, fading into the thick blanket of silence that covers the room.

She had planned what she would say over the weekend, filling nearly ten pages, front and back, with her looping scrawl, quoting poets and playwrights, and even his favorite song. She had read it out loud the night before, speaking around the ache in her chest and throat, both words and then harsh sobs echoing against empty white cabinets.

Those pages rest now on the bottom of a trashcan.

He deserved more than her writer's words, carefully crafted and edited for impact. God knows, he'd heard them enough, encouraging her despite her self-defeating tendencies, pushing her where he knew she wanted and needed to go. No, this time he deserved her heart. He deserved truth and honesty and just her, without the masks, without the walls. He deserved the person she had been once, the person he had always seen and loved in her.

And this time she wouldn't let him down.

Behind that podium, draped in purple and trimmed in gold, staring into a sea of dark fabrics and pale faces, inhaling the overwhelming scent of too many flowers, she would speak from within. She would open her mouth and release her heart, all her pain and all her grief somehow wrapped up in it, too, but not diluting it, not diminishing the power of her love. She would pour out her mind and soul where all the world could hear, and where she prayed he could hear it, too. She would cry to Heaven, loudly, and in words she'd never used, words she knew he never needed.

Words that should be said, at least once.

It is all she can do now, all she has left to give, but she thinks it will be enough.

The clock on the nightstand tells her it will be time to go soon. She should arrive at least an hour before the service, as last minute details will no doubt need her attention. But for now, she simply sits in what was her father's bedroom, steeling herself against this day, and the cold Kansas light.

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