It was the opening and closing of her fists that got to me. As if Mrs. Johnson thought she could grab her son by his torn shirttails and yank him out of the afterlife all of a piece again.
“Jimmy jumped into a train.” Her eyes were wide and staring. Her hands clenched and released empty air.
LouAnne Henderson traced concentric circles around Mrs. Johnson's back, ever smaller, smaller, until there was just a dot in the middle before she worked her way back out again. I glanced at Stu.
“Jimmy jumped into a train,” Mrs. Johnson said again. The words were hard enough to hear in the first telling. I couldn't bear to hear them again.
Stu sidled up to me. “They found his cowboy boots sitting neat and pretty beside the tracks, almost as if he'd stepped out of 'em afore he jumped.”
I nodded. “Probly he did. He was right proud of them boots, bragging about them near every chance he got.”
Stu put his foot up on the stretcher of the chair and leaned towards me. “I remember how Jimmy use to to put his ear down against the rail of those selfsame tracks to listen for the tell-tale rumble of an oncoming train.”
I nodded. “His mother worried about him. She'd stand stand at her kitchen window, watching for him to come home, a pocketful of taconite for his slingshot.”
Stu sighed. “A boy's treasures are simple and cheap.”
“But not a mother's.”
“Jimmy was Mrs. Johnson's treasure, sure as sure. Jimmy use to tell his momma, 'that old train ain't gonna' hurt me.' Then she'd shake him hard, like to snap off his neck and tell him, 'you be sure that it don't.'”
“Why do you think...?”
Stu blinked back tears and turned away. “Best not dwell on it, Duane.”
I nodded and thought of my two kids waiting for me back at home. “Yeah. You're probly right, Stu.”
This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was Dwell.