From The Ashes - 244 words (prompt - haunted)

“What was the best day of your childhood?” Grady touches Ros’s hand. They are lying on a grey army blanket spread on the yellow sand by a restless sea. Overhead, whipped-cream clouds scud across the sky.

Ros wishes he wouldn’t ask but she sifts through her haunted past again. Memories are sticky. The bad always clings to the good.

“Let me think about that.” She laces her fingers through his and deflects. “What was yours?”

“My first bicycle. The one that was brand new to me.”

A soft smile dances on her lips as she listens to the familiar story. As the sixth child, Grady knew mostly pre-loved clothes and toys. He has many happy memories to dip into, but the gift of new wheels is the one that stands out. Always.

Ros considers the difference between pre-loved and second-hand. Even without siblings, she knew second-hand. Every day of her young life was tainted by a mother who gave her as little possible. Rosalyn was resented from the moment she was conceived. It was all so long ago. Another time. A different country. Ros resists the urge to revisit those lonely years, to disappear into a fog from which she might never return. It no longer matters.

Now she has Grady. They have each other and in a few months, there will be a baby. A boy.

The best days of her life are yet to come but, like everything, they will not last.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: B-Series / Worksman Club Cruiser by Des281