Imaginary Family

Phil was an emotional wreck.

He peered out the window for a brief instant before twitching the blinds back into place. No one was going to show. He knew it in his heart. He put out a hand to catch himself on the arm of his favorite easy chair, but missed, and collapsed all the way to the floor. He curled up, hugged his knees to his chest, and began bawling his eyes out.

A knock on the door startled him, and he rose quickly, dashing the tears from his face with the heel of his right hand. When he opened the door, His lips moved, but no sound escaped to welcome his sister and her new husband to his home.

“Hey Phil!” cried his sister Lynette. she took a step into his domain and dropped her purse on the table next to the door before squeezing his ribs ever so tightly. “This is Robert, I’m sure you remember that.” She gestured Robert to come inside as she sidled Phil gently out of the way and softly closed the door.

Robert stuck out a hand. “Nice to finally meet you, buddy.” He smiled broadly, a smile that began to wilt when Phil failed to grasp his hand or even speak at an audible volume.

“Don’t worry, hon,” Lynette patted her husband on his upper arm. “Phil gets a little freaked out when he has company. Why don’t we all go sit down in the living room?” She led the two men into the adjacent room and settled Phil on his easy chair before ushering Robert to one end of the couch. She took the other end.

Phil teased a stray bit of string from the upholstery with his forefinger and thumb, refusing to look up at the invaders on his couch. He suddenly regretted ever buying that couch. If he hadn’t gotten a couch, there would be nowhere for them to sit, and then perhaps they wouldn’t have come at all. They wouldn’t be invading his sanctuary.

When he finally looked up, the couch was gone, and the floor was dusty in the spot where it never was. A single tear followed in the tracks already left on Phil’s face as he realized that he’d done it again.

He’d forgotten that he was an only child.

 


Genealogical Pursuits

file000114053890My stepmother’s hobby is genealogy. My father hates it; the last time I talked to him, he complained of their last road trip, of the visits to small town city halls and libraries where she pored for hours over moldy records and microfilm while he waited in the car with the dogs. When I was a kid we would stop at places while traveling between their house and my mother’s house so that she could research someone or other.

I respect her dedication to the pursuit. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always clean. I never knew that it was because she’s Mormon that she worked so hard at it. I didn’t know that was just another thing that she did, like keeping a year’s worth of food on hand. I mean, lots of people study their genealogy.

I think it’s interesting in itself, although not enough to go out and research my own family as actively as she does; that’s mostly because I’d have to leave the country to find out about my father’s side.

I haven’t thought about it in a long time, about researching for myself, that is. It seems more interesting now that I’m older than it used to. I think I’ll see what I can find online.

How much do you know about your family? Have you ever studied genealogy? Do you have any site recommendations?


A Dearth of Dried Flowers

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Karla looked across her former workspace at the scattering of dried and once-fresh flowers and assorted scraps of paper. Everything in the tiny closet of a room was exactly as she’d left it eighteen years ago, as far as she could tell. She reached out a hand and caressed a petal as it crumbled to dust, and a tear slid down her cheek.

Running away had been her best choice, her only choice, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt. That didn’t mean she didn’t grieve for the family that might have been. The fairy tale that everyone else had.

She was thirty-two now, and happily pursuing art two states away, but of course there was no one else to come clean up the mess when her grandmother died. Karla didn’t know her parents’ names; she’d lived with her grandmother and her uncle until she was fifteen and couldn’t take it anymore.

The years of agonizing psychological torture seeped from the walls like a greasy stain. She hadn’t been surprised when her uncle shot himself when she was nine, and she hadn’t been surprised when her grandmother forced her to clean up what was left of him after the body was gone. There was no funeral. Grandmother scoffed at the unnecessary expense.

Even now, after so many years of therapy, Karla was amazed that the younger version of herself had enough personality left over to spend collecting wildflowers, carefully pressing them, and gently decoupaging them into beautifully individual greeting cards. The box still waited patiently under a single folded bath towel.

Grandmother must have deemed cleaning out this room another unnecessary expense. She probably never set foot in it again when Karla never came home from school that Friday afternoon.

Karla knew on the drive here that opening any other doors in the house would be an unnecessary expense from her bank of emotional stability. Without touching anything else in her room, she closed the door behind her and retraced her steps back to the front porch. She sat down down the stairs and pulled out her smartphone to begin googling local liquidators to clean the entire house out. Anyone who would accept the contents as a fee would be acceptable. Karla didn’t need a single thing.

Her second phone call was profitable enough; he promised to be there within the hour. Karla reminded him that she would be leaving in exactly one hour, and he reiterated his promise. She hung up, and prepared to watch the sun set as she waited.

It was only twenty minutes before he arrived, and Karla walked to the street and handed him the set of keys. He stuttered, holding his hands up in refusal. “Don’t you want to do a walkthrough with me so I can give you an estimate?”

She met his confusion with a shake of her head. “No, thank you, it’s fine. I don’t need any money, I just want to be done with everything here.”

He was even more taken aback at that, and rifled through his pockets to offer her the $481 cash he found. She took it.

“The house is yours too. If you need me to sign anything, you have my number, but the deed should be in one of her filing cabinets, along with the receipt for every single item in there. Good luck.” Karla began to walk away, but paused to ask one more question. “Where’s the nearest bar?”

He pointed down the street. “There’s one about a mile down there. Just take a left on Third Street.”

“Thanks,” she nodded.

 


April, Born in May

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?

When I saw this I realized that I don’t know why my parents named me April. There aren’t any Aprils in my family. 

Maybe they just liked the sound of it. 

Is it odd that I still don’t know the answer to this, and my mother lives with us? Normally, I’d agree, but she’s having surgery tomorrow, and we haven’t seen much of her today due to prep of the, ahem, cleansing variety. 

I should ask her tomorrow afternoon; a morphine-hazed answer would be vastly entertaining. She’s great fun on drugs. It’s like talking to someone while they’re sleeping, only better, because the hits just keep on coming. Once she was exceedingly proud of herself because she got to wear the T-shirt at a Goodyear parade. 

I wonder what she would say. 

But I have thought about changing my name. I believe if I had the opportunity, I would go with my middle name, Inez. I know the origin of that one: my paternal grandmother. Even though I kept my maiden name as my middle–ooh, that is a whole ‘nother controversial post, isn’t it–it feels like a betrayal to have dropped it.

April doesn’t belong to anyone; it isn’t a legacy with which I was entrusted. 

Sometimes it feels like a placeholder. 

Others, it feels likes condensation of, well, me. So much of one’s identity is tied up in one’s name, isn’t it?


Happy Thanksgiving Again

Today has gone better than expected; my mother got her deconstructed turkey in the oven an hour late, but we only ate half an hour late. 

My best friend’s mom made some amazing dressing. 

My best friend pulled me to the side to tell me that she saw my mother put half a cup of salt in the gravy. 

My best friend’s dad and my brother’s girlfriend held an impromptu concert on the back porch on penny whistles. This attracted the attention of the neighbor kids playing outside. I knew they would get along swimmingly, since he’s a musician and she’s a music major. I rather enjoyed seeing her passion for music and music history come out. It made me see how she and my brother are so perfect for each other, because he’s the same way when he gets taking about his game developing.

Waffles even came out, momentarily. 

And work has been going by not too slowly, so that’s good.


Artistic Ancestry

Alfred set his brush down and took a step back to admire his work. Perhaps a hint more color here? But no, the work was done. He smiled, satisfied with what he had created from a blank canvas and a palette of not so many colors.

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He nodded, and left his studio for the main house. His granddaughter, Corinne, would be here soon, and he wanted to spend as much time with her as he could before the end came.

There ya go, miss rule maker!