Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

Pillar of Strength
Mardra Sikora

When her father underwent heart surgery, she coped by using coffee and sarcasm. Her dry humor and pointed questions kept the doctors honest and impressed. In those long weeks, she stayed near her mother and never shed a tear. It wasn’t the first time the phrase, “She’s a rock,” was uttered near her; meant as a compliment, of course. The one who holds her composure. The one who remains stoic, allowing others to emote. The one who stands firm while others lean.

It is why she got the call when her grandfather died. “He didn’t make it,” said the Sheriff, “Can you come to your grandmother?”

“Yes, of course.” She hung up the phone, dressed, arranged for a babysitter, and rushed out the door. Later that morning she made the calls, lifted the burden, calmed the storm of emotions from family and friends.

It made her a strong manager, a trusted confidante, a respected mentor. When others said, “I could never—” they called upon her to carry…everything.

She allowed others to fall apart and she just swallowed hard, like swallowing a pebble that travelled through her and settled in her core, weighing her down.

When the doctor said, “He didn’t make it,” and this time it was her son, deep in her soul she felt the stirring of the animal instinct to run. Run from this horrible feeling and those frightening words. Instead, she could hardly move. She lifted each foot slowly, lumbered with each step until she reached the pavement just outside the hospital doors.

Her hands covered and held her face as if her head could crash to the ground. The impact of soft raindrops pushed her to her knees. Each new drop forced her features in place, her tears turned to streams of silver and her eyes changed to sapphire stones.

The next morning the city officials moved the mourning figure to the soft green grasses. Family and friends placed flowers at the sculpture base, all of her strength forever set in stone; she could never hurt again.

Mardra Sikora is a freelance ghost writer, marketing consultant, and blogger by day and a fiction writer by night, leaving less time for sleep than one would expect. Her fiction is published in varied literary journals online and in print as well as at