Cherry blossoms flew through the air as the wind overtook them, carrying them across the graveyard and onto a young girl's raven hair. She sat on her knees in front of a tombstone of someone whom she truly loved. Life was cruel, for in front of Raye Hino sat her mother's grave.
Raye placed a bouquet of Casablanca lilies in front of the stone, before wrapping her sweater tighter to her chest, in an attempt to protect herself from the cold. She felt fragile and ill as the words, "Happy Mother's Day." slipped from her lips.
When was the last time she had actually spent a mother's day with her mother? The thought left a metallic taste in her mouth.
Nonetheless, a memory seeped into her mind, reminding her of a painful past and the constant reminder that she and her mother were never good enough. They were never important enough, and that was why she died. That was why her mother grew ill and lost the will to survive. It was all his fault.
She shut her eyes tight as the memory resurfaced itself.
Raye ran down the hall, following the large paintings which lead to her to her current destination in the large mansion. Raye was excited, for she was covered in a puffy, red dress and wore a large ribbon in her hair. She felt like a princess as she raced to her mother and father's room, anxious to bring her mother roses she had carefully picked from the garden.
Outside the door the small child paused, for the ribbon she had tied to hold the flowers together had undone. She kneeled down to pick up a fallen rose and retighten her bouquet when she heard a crash from her mother's room. A small sob escaped her mother's lips, leading Raye to rush in, worried as can be.
"Mama?" Raye asked, seeing the family phone on the floor in front of her mother's feet. She looked up to see her mother's mascara smudged as tears flowed freely from her eyes. "Mama, what's wrong?"
Mrs. Hino pulled some tissues from a kleenex box on her vanity, and started to dab at her eyes, ignoring her daughter momentarily in an attempt to make the tears go away. Her daughter shouldn't see her mother like this. Seeing her efforts were useless when she couldn't stop crying, the woman sat on her bed instead. She welcomed her child into her arms. At least she had her little girl with her.
Raye pulled herself up into her mother's lap, touching the soft, yellow, silk fabric that tightly covered her Mother's figure. Tonight they were going to dinner with her father to celebrate six years of her mama being a mother. She noted how her mother had overdressed for the restaurant, having added a large topaz necklace surrounded by diamonds on her neck. Her mother's dark hair was pulled up into a tight bun with leftover hair tendrils flowing down on the sides. She was breathtaking. Her mother was everything Raye dreamed of being someday.
"Do you remember when you told me that it okay to let your guard down, Mama? I was always putting up the defensive and avoiding making friends. You told me it was okay to let your guard down...especially for love."
The woman held her child close to her chest, leaving Raye to wonder why her mother seemed so broken, why her spirits were so wilted. Raye was listening to her mother's heartbeat, so slow and even, when her mother finally opened her lips to speak. "Your father isn't going with us to dinner tonight."
Raye pulled her head up to look into her mother's eyes. She didn't understand why her mom was so upset. "Mama, why are you crying? Daddy always cancels on us."
Raye didn't know that the words a child spoke could be the last straw. That saying the obvious could eventually break a woman, especially one as fragile as her mother. Her mother squeezed Raye tight to her chest again as another sob erupted from her throat. In a low, defeated whisper, the sad woman said, "I know."
"But in the end, letting your guard down led you here, Mama. Loving my father made you die of heartbreak." The words Raye spoke were bitter. She felt sick thinking of her father, the man who had stolen away her only loving parent. The man who made her feel like a nuisance from the day she was born.
Water began to sprinkle from the clouds above Raye as she let her fingers draw her mother's name in the stone. Her heart ached as she thought of the tragic ending of her family.
From the distance, she heard a young man run towards her with a large purple umbrella.
"Raye!" He yelled, his shaggy brown hair waving in front of his face. "It's raining! I don't want you to ge- oomph!"
She smiled guiltily as she chuckled at Chad's misfortune of slipping in wet grass. He was so funny and caring in the ways that he tried to take care of her. She was the wallflower with walls built up around her, showing nothing but stubbornness when he tried, and yet, he never gives up.
Raye turned back to her mother's grave, wondering what she would think of the wanna be rock star. "There is someone new in my life mama, but I'm scared. What if now he is sweet and loving, but then he ends up like my father as we get older?"
Raye wipes a tear off her cheek, running her finger over the tombstone before saying, "Do you remember when you were here to give me advice, Mama?"
She stands with watery eyes, her fists clenched at her sides before whispering, " I do."
This is my contest entry for the theme "Remember When?" It was challenging because I wrote out of my comfort zone of first person and in past tense. Let me know what you thought! -Natasha