Early morning mist shrouded the vineyard.

Sue wandered between the rows, petulantly counting plants as she went. She was tired. She was bereft. She couldn’t decide whether she really wanted to do this again.

Mike would have been trotting along, remembering the fall’s harvest of each plant to her. “You thought it was never going to bear fruit, remember, Sue?” He could chide her all day, and never get her riled up; she was happy to be proven wrong when it came to the grapes.

Last year the grapes had been plump and juicy and sweet; this year they were non-existent. The workers had been unable to return in the spring; rules and walls and laws–politics would be the ruin of farms and vineyards, Mike declared.

Then Mike caught a cold, and was dead almost before the doctors could decide he’d fallen victim to the new virus in town. “And politics,” Mike’s father stated flatly as he sat in the parking lot of the hospital where no one had been allowed inside to see Mike off on his final journey. “God damn politicians make a game of it, and see where we are.”

“Hell,” Sue said. “We’re in hell.”

That was March. There was no funeral. Sue put the ashes of her beloved in a midnight-blue urn and placed him on the nightstand on his side of the bed. She didn’t know what else to do.

She didn’t argue when she was told to isolate herself for two weeks. She’d had a cotton swab shoved up to her brain already; two weeks of television, coffee and books didn’t sound bad after that.

Mike’s parents had been a little less enchanted with the ordeal. “Your mom’s gettin’ fond of delivery service,” the old man told her. “I can’t work, and she’s spending money.”

Sunday, the third day of May, and Sue stood in the fields. The mist was cold, soaking through her t-shirt and making her shiver. The vines were shriveled and grey, and Sue felt they looked exactly how she was feeling in that moment: cold, shriveled and grey.

“Oh, Mike!” she cried. “What am I going to do?”

Clearly, she heard his voice: “You thought it was never going to bear fruit. But it did. And it will again.”

Sue gasped. “Mike?”

“Don’t give up.”

It started to rain.


Author’s note: This was a story prompt on Writers Unite! that called for up to 300 words. I went overboard, with almost 400. So, here ya go, a longer short-short.

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