Last year’s story this years reality

Sometimes the things you write about really do come true and when you least expect it…

A couple of months ago I submitted a story to the writers digest short story contest. It was something I knocked out last year as my brain was still cooling down from a larger project. Little did I know that this month I would be facing a really similar situation.

First the story…

The Room


“Sooner or later it all comes down to standing in a room full of people you don’t want to know wearing cloths you don’t want to wear.” Well Dad I guess you were right about that.

We walk in and take our places.

Has anyone noticed that without lyrics all this music sounds the same?

“Joseph, this is your uncle Walter.” Thanks mom, he’s one of the five people I recognize here.

Uncle Walter mumbles something. I’m not really paying attention.

Why do people think a coat of paint will hide the fact that your walls are cheap ’70s paneling? Why wouldn’t you do a better job of hiding that patch? The carpet is fairly new, but it’s stained already. Isn’t having food and drink at these things kind of tacky? I’m just saying.

Oh good. Aunt Caren is here, and the kids. “I know what you must be going through.” Not even close, not even close.

At least the cousins have nothing to say to me; not since that incident at the reunion. I don’t have much to say to them either.

Her husband went straight over to the video. He’s more interested in the TV than what’s on the screen. At least they finally got the tech worked out, a wired system might be more dependable.

“Joseph go get your brother.” At least that’s an excuse to move.

He’s going to the bathroom. I really don’t want to go in there after him.

I wait.

I wait.

I guess I really will have to go in after him. He’s locked the door of course. There’s a reason the locks on these doors are easily picked. Of course if he’s really a good student he’s added something else to block the door.

He hasn’t, but he’s only seven.

“Go away.” David is sitting on the toilet, but he hasn’t even pulled his pants down. He’s hanging his head and sniffing. “Go away.”

I kneel down next to him.

“Go away.”

“I can’t do that kiddo, we got to stick together.”

He stares at me with red eyes.

I gently take hold of the small end of his tie. “Dad hates it when this sticks out.”

“I tried.” His voice is small.

“It’s ok, this will fix it.” I pop the backing off one of the pins then show it to him.

“That’s Daddies.”

“It was.”

I press it through the small part of the tie and into his shirt. I put the backing back on.

“That rubs my tummy.”

“Well, that way you know it’s there.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“From the dresser. I’m wearing one too.”

“Mommy will be mad.”

“So don’t tell her.” Dad earned them not mom. It’s not like she’s a Marine. “Come on, Stewie will need us.”

David straightens a little. “Yeah, he’s only five. Sara needs us too.”

I take David by the hand. We take a winding course going back. Neither one of us wants to look at the box.

A couple of Dad’s friends from the Corps are here. The Lieutenant is with them. He puts his hand on my shoulder. “Semper Fi.”

“Semper Fi sir.” At least he knows what to say.

David hugs Sara. She’s been crying too.

The chairs are all padded. They look like somebody’s grandma lives here. But nobody really lives here do they?

Except for us, and the Lieutenant, there are three kinds of people here.

There are the ones that want to talk, but not to us. They really don’t have anything to say.

There are the ones that are too scared to say anything.

And then, there are the ones that have nothing to say and know it. Those are the easiest to deal with.

I don’t know why they bring flowers in here. They say it’s to make it happier, but it doesn’t help.  If it does anything it makes people sad when they see flowers.

Mom is chatting with some aunt or something. The aunt looks at me like she might catch something. The next one is from her work, more words with no meaning.

I wait.

I wait.

I take Stewie to the bathroom, dodging looks all the way.

Steve and Violetta are here. They talk to mom for a second, but not to me and the kids. That’s ok, we’ll talk later. Worst comes to worst I’ll see them at school.

I wait.

Couldn’t we have done this after dinner?

I wait.

Finally Mom says it’s time to go.

I reach out to touch the coffin. Well, Dad, one more of these at the chapel tomorrow, then an hour or so for the funeral.

Then maybe I can get on with grieving.


Next the reality…

I probably won’t be posting here next week because I will be attending a memorial service for my Mother who finally succumbed to ALS. At least she’s not suffering.

That’s it for this one dear reader…

See you in two.


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