The Wisdom of the Honeysuckle

It was late afternoon. Sassy was dressed in her blue striped cotton pajamas, lying on her mama’s couch, trolling through TV stations. She landed on a cooking show. The chef was making crepes.

For a second, she forgot. Crepes sound good. Maybe Dan could make them for her, wearing only the flowered apron. She giggled at the thought, but stopped as she remembered. Dan was dead. He’d never cook or make love to her again. She shut her eyes, trying not to cry.

Someone pushed her shoulder. She opened her eyes. Tommy, her six-year-old son, was watching her. “What’s wrong, Mama? Are you sick? Where’s Daddy?”

“I don’t know.” It was the only answer she had. With his blue eyes, bushy brows and inky black hair, Tommy looked just like his daddy. It hurt her to look at him. Big fat tears finally fell down her cheeks.

“Don’t cry, Mama.” Tommy tried to hug her, but his small pudgy hands were muddy. She pushed him away. Hurt filled his eyes. Ignoring it, she said, “Go outside, Tommy. Mama needs rest.” She shut her eyes, willing sleep to take her again.

But he stayed, begging with a wavering voice, “Mama, please get up.” He tugged on her hand; Sassy resisted. Tommy fell back, landing hard on his butt. He cried. She made no move to comfort him.

She looked up. Her mama stood in the doorway, glaring at her. “That’s enough, Sassy! Get dressed and come to the garden. Tommy, you come with me.” She and Tommy left. Neither of them looked back at Sassy.

She wanted to disobey, but knew better. Mama Jo’s tone said she meant business. Sassy pulled on dirty jeans and a stained t-shirt. A glance in the mirror, showed her tear-bloated face, matted and greasy hair, but she didn’t care. Nothing mattered without Dan.

Once outside, she leaned against the porch railing, watching Tommy and Mama Jo talk near the fence covered in climbing roses and honeysuckle.

Tommy’s high pitched voice floated up to her. “Mama Jo, how can those soft white flowers grow among the sharp thorns of that rose bush?”

Mama Jo’s eyes looked up at Sassy. She spoke in her teacher’s voice. “Thorns are part of life, Tommy. That honeysuckle embraces them; it doesn’t fight them. That’s how its tender flowers survive. It’s a good lesson for all of us. Don’t you agree, Sassy Girl?”

Sassy felt the slap of her mother’s words. Tommy looked up; his blue eyes troubled. For the first time since Dan’s death, Sassy really saw her scared little boy. Mama Jo was right. She’d been so selfish. In battling her own pain, she’d forgotten about her son’s grief, but no more.

She walked down the steps following the scent of the honeysuckle to Tommy. Nervous, he edged closer to Mama Jo. Sassy’s heart ached, but she bent down and said, “Tommy, Daddy’s not coming home, but you and I are going to be just fine.”

*     *     *     *     *

Write at the Merge gave us this quote by Emily Brontë from Wuthering Heights: “It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.”

My story is based on words in the quote:~)

13 comments on “The Wisdom of the Honeysuckle

  1. Kelvin Kao says:

    Great story, Sara. And I learned what a honeysuckle is.

  2. Lynn says:

    That’s beautiful, Sara.

  3. Valerie says:

    That last line, Sara! It had to be said, and now, it’s time to mend.

    I love these little worlds you create with your words-they are so full of rich details, like the mud on Tommy’s small pudgy hands. I can picture them, and his hurt too. Beautifully done!!

  4. Katie says:

    Well done, a good direct use of the prompt. Grandmas always know best.
    Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

  5. Talon says:

    Awww! You broke my heart with this one, Sara. I love how you took that quote and spun such a fabulous tale!

  6. Maggie Grace says:

    Well written story and beautiful words at the end with the honeysuckle and thorns. It broke my heart in the beginning with the mother shunning her son. Am glad you repaired that with your writing.

  7. Tomekha says:

    So sad. My heart broke for little Tommy.

  8. Alien Ghost says:

    Hi Sara,

    A moment in time; an image that changes the course of things; the sharp angle that happens in someone’s continuous line of life. We all have moments like that, and you Sara have such an hability to present it in words in the form of an entertaining tale that touches our feelings. Thank you and congratulations! :)


  9. What a fine, evocative little story, Sara. I enjoyed reading it…and being reminded of the lesson it holds.

  10. jean sampson says:

    Beautiful story, Sara, and we Southerners surely do know what honeysuckle is and how it embraces EVERYTHING! And we LOVE how it sweetens the soft evening air of early summer. It is my childhood go-to summer fragrance. How lovely that the grandmother used that image for the lesson.

  11. Hilary says:

    Hi Sara .. that is a great story – loved your tale woven into a moral tale – life is learnt this way isn’t it ..

    Fabulous .. the thorns and the embraces … the finding a way through the morasses of life … can’t wait for the honeysuckle to bless us with its scented flowers ..

    Cheers Hilary

  12. Linda says:

    Sara, you covered a lot of different emotions here, the pain of grief, fear, guilt, and gentle but firm understanding. Life often contains thorns and we never get through without some stabs, but the idea is not to avoid the stabs, but to recover and go on. Nicely written.

    Sorry I’ve been absent lately, just busy.

  13. It is a wonderful quote and it turned into a good story and I liked the hopeful ending – hand in hand.

    Reviewing a book of short stories today – and wow can this author write…an exceptional style even if the stories were rather harsh….I think I would want to keep a copy of this book around though to create a pacing….The Author teaches writing….I was wondering if he might do an online workshop?
    I love my blog tour of writers – all the different styles and ideas….makes my mind soar…
    Thank you

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