He threw a rock into the pond and watched the ripples spread out and reflect back in on themselves. They formed a small chaos on the surface of the water.
The air was still, and the sky was drab: an unremarkable gray that was only too appropriate for why he was here. He hated this place and everything about it.
“Such a good boy, such a smart boy,” she had always said. She said it when he was young and believed it. She said it when he was older and knew better. Now she wouldn’t say it anymore.
He was glad to have left the rest of the family inside. This was supposed to be happy. They were supposed to celebrate, but he didn’t feel like celebrating. He didn’t feel much of anything. He just stared at the rippling water, upset by another one of his skipping stones.
Speeches and toasts and laughter drifted through closed doors, trying to invade his silence. It was like none of them cared like they all had forgotten her. She was the reason they were all here, that they had all come together, to begin with. She wasn’t there anymore, and they were acting like none of that mattered. Well, it mattered to him. She still mattered to him.
He didn’t understand how they could do it. She had been married for sixty-seven years, and it was like her husband didn’t care. It was like Grandpa just didn’t care. How could he be in there drinking his beer and telling the same, old, dumb stories? How could he do that to her memory?
And how could mom simply ignore what was going on? Didn’t she see how no one remembered, no one cared anymore?
He wished dad was here. Dad would know, dad would know what to do. But he wasn’t. He was somewhere else, though right now it wasn’t too clear where dad had gone. Dad said something about business before he left, but that was a while ago now. He didn't know where Dad was, but Dad would know what to do.
He threw another stone across the pond, skipping it three times before it “plunked” in. This time the ripples were carried away. A soft wind brushed over the waters, stirring them and hiding the results of his cast stone. The clouds darkened and droplets started to kiss the surface.
She used to let him cheat at Casino, slipping him tens when Grandpa wasn’t looking. She used to make his favorite dessert; a candle made a banana, a cherry, and a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream. She used to tell him stories, stories that, for some reason, he just couldn’t remember, not anymore.
He would give anything to hear those stories one more time, to play Casino one more time, to have one more bowl of ice cream.
He threw another stone into the pond, though this time the wind was strong enough, and the droplets were fast enough that he didn’t even bother watching for ripples. It was a stupid pond anyway.
The sky was dark now, pregnant and ready to burst. The wind was strong, making the pond lap the edge, a pint-sized imitation of ocean waves.
He wanted to be ambivalent about the weather. He wanted to not care, to stay in the rain until his clothes were soaked through. He didn’t care if he caught something.
She would have cared though. She would have told him that he would catch something. She would have sworn that, “If you get soaked, you will shrivel up smaller than a raisin. We will need to carry you around in a box!”
He stepped back towards the house, hiding under the awning that covered the front door. It was cold now. He wasn’t soaked, but he was wet enough, and it was cold enough that he began to shiver. But he didn’t want to go in. He didn’t want to forget. He had forgotten so much already.
He shivered, gazing out, into the rain, not looking at anything in particular. He just stood, watching her garden, a garden no longer well maintained, bend and sway in the oncoming wind. He watched the pond, so much smaller than when he was younger. He watched the driveway, crowded with cars, cars that meant nothing. He watched and stood.
When he heard the door open behind him, he turned. There stood his mom, watching him.
“Are you alright?” she asked him.
“She’s gone, mom. She’s gone,” he said.
“I know,” she answered.