A Passing Storm
by Victoria Polmatier
There was a time we spent hours sitting in the shade of the old tree telling stories and learning about each other. When friends were around, we'd play games in the field, knowing no end to the sunshine and laughter.
Marney was my best friend and we knew all each other’s secrets. We met in middle school when she moved to town with her parents. She was quiet and shy and something in her eyes made me want to be her friend. I had asked her to sit with me for lunch and we became inseparable.
We grew and matured under that tree. We talked about school and family and cute boys when we were younger. As we matured, the conversations grew to boyfriends and college and dreams for our lives. It all seemed so simple and natural.
One day Marney didn't show up for school. As soon as school was out, I went straight to her house. When I arrived, no one was home and the house was empty. I stood there dumbfounded. The old woman next door must have seen me standing there with my mouth open. She came out and stood beside me on the sidewalk.
"Quiet, hmm?" she commented.
With a tear forming in my eye, I turned to her, "Where are they?"
"I don’t know, dear. I heard fighting again last night. This morning a truck came, packed their things and they left," the old woman offered.
I didn't know what to say. We'd been best of friends for years and yet I realized I’d never spent any time at her house. We either stayed at my place or wandered outside.
"Before they left, the young lady handed me this." The old woman pulled an envelope out of her pocket and handed it to me. "She said if I saw her friend to give it to her. I'm guessing that's you?"
I reached to take the envelope. "Yeah, thank you."
I drifted off to sit under our favorite tree and read. "Dear Jo, I'm sorry to leave you like this. My parents had another terrible fight last night. It seems they are getting a divorce and my mom and I will go live with my grandparents. I guess I never told you the trouble we were having. It was so embarrassing. You see, my dad drinks a lot. And, when he drinks, he yells at my mom and he does things that are unspeakable to me. I didn't want to tell you because I thought you wouldn't want to be my friend anymore and I couldn't have stood that. At least now I'll be away from my dad but I'll also be away from you, the only best friend I've ever had. Thank you for being my friend and showing me what normal looked like. All my love, Marney"
I gazed off into the horizon. I felt heartbroken losing my friend, but I felt worse about never realizing her life was so awful. She never told me and that made me feel worse than losing my friend. I sat there and cried for a long time then I slowly walked back home.
That night a storm blew in. The wind howled for days, beating against the house. It sounded like it might tear the roof off. That wind lasted for almost a week, and then it stopped. When I woke the next morning, I got out of bed and looked out the window. A slow smile crossed my face as I saw the reason for the absolute stillness. A snowstorm had coated the world in sparkly white. I ate my breakfast and finished all my chores for the day. After lunch, I bundled myself up for a walk. First, I walked past Marney's house and then I went to our favorite spot under the tree. I stood there and thought of Marney and our friendship. I suppose she was right not to tell me. It meant I could keep my normal life. And she'd said herself, it gave her a bit of normal too. I started towards home. As I crossed the field, I turned and looked one more time at the tree. It stood there so still and majestic. I could almost hear the voices underneath. Then I turned and walked away.
Victoria Polmatier, best known for her loving heart and laughter is a writer, herbalist and gardener. She shares her love of nature and life lessons on her blog at victoriapolmatier.com. Victoria lives in Southwest Washington with her husband, their two dogs, two cats and a flock of chickens. She's happiest when with her family or when she has her hands in the dirt tending her herbs and garden. Victoria recently released her first book of poetry, Surviving Suicide: One Mother’s Journey to Acceptance After Her Son’s Death. She can be found on social media as @naturalvic.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'The Nature of Snow'