Summer Vacation

Alice bundled her coat into a ball as she took her seat on the train. She turned to her seatmate to introduce herself, but the man was reading a paper. Quite determinedly reading a paper, she noted. He rattled the pages fiercely as he turned them, shaking out imaginary wrinkles and possibly mixing up the words, Alice presumed. She shrugged and faced forward to wait for her journey to begin.

The remaining passengers bustled by, occasionally knocking her elbow, but mostly focused on themselves in that polite way that people assume in mass transit situations. Alice settled back and thought about her grandmother’s house. where she’d be in just a few short hours.

aliceShe was named Alice too, and ever since Alice the younger was a little girl, she’d been entertained with the most outlandish stories of dreams and mirrors and decks of cards. Alice the grandmother even had a nifty little bottle labeled Drink Me that served as a prop for one of those stories. Summers with her grandmother were the best times of young Alice’s life.

The train began to move, and she nodded off, to dream of a rushing rabbit in a waistcoat who was terribly late.

PP #57


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.

 


Walking the Goose

girl and doveWhenever I’m feeling down, I try to take a moment to enjoy the knick knacks my grandmother left me.

She had such a collection at her house, and when we lost her, we learned how well she had paid attention to each of us over the years, and knew exactly which one to pass on to which grandkid and great-grandkid.

I always pretended I was the little girl, bringing my pet goose with me for a walk. Grandma remembered that, and it helps me to remember her. I miss her, but she still puts a smile on my face.

Pre-Picture Prompt Picture Prompt by LRose


Time Warp Tuesday: Left Behind

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It’s Time Warp Tuesday again, and I’m actually on the ball this time around!

This month the theme is Left Behind. Kathy says, Look for a blog entry in your archives where you wrote about what it feels like to live on after the death of a loved one.

This is the post I chose.

I cried writing that post; I’m crying now after reading it again. Grandma Inez’s memorial service was August 5, in Rhode Island. Ian and I had originally intended to go, bringing Abby with us, but after discussing it and thinking about it, we took that time we had set aside for the trip and spent a week with my mother and stepfather. Because I wasn’t just feeling selfish when I wrote that post, I was being honest.

My father has never really cared about me, or Ian, and he doesn’t want to talk about Abby. When I called him to tell him we’d decided against coming to Rhode Island, the call dropped. He didn’t call me back, and hasn’t called me since. He didn’t call me then; he doesn’t call me now. And it’s fine.

I do have people in my family who love me and are always proud of me no matter what. I have Ian, and I have Abby, and I have my siblings, and I have my stepfather and my mother.

And that person I want to be when I grow up? The one who loves you unconditionally the way you are and is always proud and happy to see you? I am that person. I love my family and I love my friends.

I am going to make pillows for them, because that’s what Grandma Inez taught me to do when you love someone.