This is short story about Wilfred -- a fifteen-year-old Australian kid -- and has been cropped and edited to enter into a contest in a few days time.
So constructive criticism would be very, very, very, much appreciated! Thank you, Guys!
A warm, evening breeze – thick with the promise of a late storm -- stirred the leaves of the faded blue gums, so they swayed gently in the dusky sky. Wilfred Wendt tugged at the collar of his loose white shirt, and faced into the stirring wind.
The air was humid and suffocating; ominous dark clouds hung low and heavy in the oppressive summer sky. Wilfred dropped his gaze; even the yellowing grass beneath his boots seemed almost grey today. It felt as if all of the colours had been sucked out of the world, leaving just the washed-out remnants of what used to be.
A sharp cane nudged into his side.
“Head high, boy,” the elderly man beside him whispered softly, “Look the world in the face. Show them that your spirit is not yet broken.”
Wilfred looked up at his Grandfather with wept-dry eyes; the man was clean-shaven, with a firm mouth and a set jaw, but kindness could still be glimpsed in the upward curve of his wrinkled brow.
Giving a slight nod, Wilfred sniffed and turned away. His Grandfather grasped the boy’s shoulder momentarily, in a reassuring gesture, before realising his grip and turning back to the black-clad figures huddled by his side.
Digging into the pocket of his trousers, Wilfred searched for the smooth edge of a fob-watch – that had once belonged to his Father. He absent-mindedly traced the rim of it with the tip of his thumb.
Most of the mourners had already left the Cemetery grounds, favouring the comfort of a cool veranda and a chilled mug of beer over the silent grief by a fresh grave. Only a few of the family’s close friends remained, swarming like lost, uncomfortable, vultures around a mourning boy and his guardian.
Wilfred removed his hat and a few sweaty locks of sun-bleached hair flopped over his eyebrows.
The gravestone itself was elaborate and large – standing over one metre tall – and was embedded with curling vines and fanciful script. He knew it was not what she would have wanted. Kneeling onto the grass, Wilfred furrowed his moist brow and ran slim, brown fingers over the newly imprinted words.
Loving Mother . . .
Margaret Elizabeth Wendt had been more than just a Mother. She had been Wilfred’s protector, his confidant, his guide and closest friend. No one could ever replace the bond that they had shared, or heal the wound her passing had left in his heart.
Two patches of reddish dirt clung to Wilfred’s knees as he got to his feet, and clenched an angry fist by his side. Grief is a strange emotion – almost impossible to describe. It is love and rage and sorrow more bitter than salted tears of pain.
Relatives circled the boy like hungry vultures, stroking his arm, patting his back, hugging him, consoling him; Wilfred was silent. He squeezed shut his eyes, hoping that when he opened them, he would be jolted awake, only to realise that this living nightmare was nothing more than that -- a bad dream to be forgotten with the waking from sleep.
There was a sudden rumble from the heavens. Several anxious eyes peered towards it, as the first few splatters of an oncoming downpour streaked onto the swaying grass. The boy gave a shuddering sigh, and watched black umbrellas spring up around him, like gloomy mushrooms erupting into the rain.
Final condolences were exchanged and the last remaining carriages clattered away down the road.
There was another rumble a few seconds later, and a bright flash of lightning from somewhere behind a distant line of trees. The shower grew heavier, increasing into a torrential deluge that bucketed ruthlessly from the colourless clouds.
“Wilfred!” the voice was raised so as to be heard over the loud pelting of the rain, “It’s time we left, son!”
Wilfred didn’t hear his Grandfather; his ears were closed to the world. Closing his eyes as well, he turned his face into the wind. Wilfred stood firm against the pelting torrent, and let his tears mingle with the rain.
The older man called out for Wilf again, but his Grandfather’s words were drowned by the grieving heavens. The boy’s guardian gave a heavy sigh; maybe it was best just to leave him be for now? Turning, he staggered doggedly back across the burial grounds, towards the solitary horse-drawn carriage awaiting him by the pavement.
The storm raged on.