Character(s): Holmes, Watson, two OFCs
Summary: An investigation into the scene from Elizabeth Bishop's sestina.
Author's Notes: ACD-verse. Fill for July 27th prompt: "Poem." There is no need to read Bishop's poem to understand this fic, but I strongly recommend the poem to anyone. It is beautiful, and only becomes more beautiful with repeated readings. (I have not incorporated quotations explicitly, but the essence of a sestina is repetition of individual words in different contexts, and I have done that here with the words from this poem.)
Word Count: 221B
Holmes did not notice the signs, busy as he was talking with the grandmother about the last time she had seen her son (the middle of June), what he had been doing (gardening), when it had last rained, what shape his shirt-buttons were. Watson, however, saw them clearly in the child’s face. There were no tears now; her face was inscrutable as she sat rigidly on an almanac to reach the tabletop, but the pictures she drew told Watson all he needed to know: house after house, smoke winding up from the chimney and a flower bed by the door. In the sky was a moon, rather than a sun, and when she happened to include a person, she did not draw him smiling.
The kettle whistled on the stove, and the grandmother cut some bread and invited Holmes and Watson to join her at the table. She cleared away the girl’s pictures and put them with a stack of others, full of much more varied images, sunny skies, happy people. Even the birds were smiling. Holmes was careful to say nothing, but Watson’s face must have told the old woman; her iron control did not crack, but her hot black eyes dimmed. The child’s expression did not change. She had known long ago that her father was not coming back.