When had he come home?
Jarrod couldn’t remember. Couldn’t remember how he got there either.
All he knew was that the Sunday morning sun was stabbing through his eyes like an ice pick.
He took a swig of the warm beer in his hand, then slumped forward on the kitchen table. Pain shot though his chest. Heart attack? It would be sweet relief.
He sat upright and slapped at his breast pocket. Knocked over his drink. Something hard dug into his skin, and he fumbled to open the flap on the flannel shirt.
It was the type of shirt Linda would have bought for him years ago, before the sick and the stink of creeping death. Back when Sunday mornings meant happy strolls and church hymns.
Where had the shirt come from today? The back of his closet, probably … maybe under his bed. Lost minutes and hours turned up all sorts of relics.
His shaky fingers slid under the fold of the pocket and wiggled into the soft, warm cloth. Inside, down at the bottom, they found the source of his pain.
Smooth, hard, with sharp edges, like memories.
He fished the tiny seashell from his shirt and placed it gently on the table in front of him. He could almost hear the shushing of the ocean as his mother spoke in the weak voice that defined her at the end.
“Take this, and keep it with you,” Linda had said, handing him a memento of their walk. She had known it would be their last. “When you need me, when times are hard, rub that shell and think of this day. I’ll be there.”
Jarrod closed his eyes and rubbed the shell. Waves of sweet nostalgia swallowed him up, and his mother was all around.