This short story was written using the prompt 'stories out of a sack'. This means that, as the author was writing, objects were being pulled out of a sack and these had to be incorporated into the story.
Stories Out of a Sack
Edited and Written By Keara Galbraith
heart cookie cutter
old, broken pocket watch
Every morning she wakes up early to put a pot of coffee on the stove, letting the smell waft through the rooms of the old house. It is an old habit though, for no one is there to be woken from the bitter-sweet smell. The five little boys that had once been running between her legs and pulling at her apron were all gone. Marched off to war, only sending word by letter to calm her restless mind. She dreaded the day that the letters would stop like her husband’s had. The pot would whistle and she would lift it, pouring the dark liquid into an old, chipped mug. Setting it on the counter, she would pour four more with the blind hope that, unlike the past days, the steaming liquid would be drained by eager mouths. Instead, she watched as the soft glow of sunrise through the window would catch the rising steam until it ceased to rise. She would stand from her seat at the table, pick up the mugs, and watch the now cold coffee swirl down the sink.
Leaving the kitchen and walking to her room, she felt her heart shatter a bit more as she wondered if the doors she passed would ever again be slammed by a boy annoyed at his mother. Or if the old, metal, rattling radiators in the rooms would ever be turned on again. She gazed at the most recent stack of letters on her bedside table, knowing there was still hope to be had, even if it hadn’t played on her side in the past. Like she had every day, she pulled out the shoe box from under the bed onto her lap and opened it, inspecting each letter and object that had been sent to her as if one could have disappeared or changed since the last day. She had been sent anything and everything from a packet of Sen-Sen to an old, worn Italian-English dictionary. Anything to show her of the places the boys had been and to assure her that they were all well. When she would reach the bottom of the box, she would lift the final object: her husband’s pocket watch that had been sent to her as a final reminder of who he was. The hands had long since stopped ticking and a corner of the glass was broken. But she knew that it wasn’t meant as a reminder of what had been lost but one of times that had been good. When they were all together and there was no need for letters to be written.