The bear was all that remained. Elaine died two weeks ago and her daughters had been busy cleaning out her cottage. I wanted to see if they found the secret.
Elaine and I had been friends since her family moved into the house next door when we were both six. We became inseparable and the bond grew stronger as we aged. We liked the same music, books, food, style of clothing. We could talk forever about nothing or debate important issues without anger.
At first Elaine didn’t know my secret, six year olds are very trusting. But by the time we were twelve she suspected the truth. She never told and I loved her for her faithfulness. We didn’t speak of it aloud but she wrote it all in a small journal and stitched it into the belly of her favorite teddy bear. No one would have believed her anyway.
She kept my secret. I was the ghost of a little girl who died in the house next door to hers. The little girl who had disappeared when she was five and whose body had never been found. The little girl buried in the garden.
Now only the bear knew.
Is a person obligated to answer every text she receives? The message read, Plz help me.
I only added Marilyn to my contacts so I would know when it was her calling and not answer. She was a drama queen, a gossip, and impossible to get away from once she cornered you. She had more causes” than anyone I knew.
She was barely an acquaintance. A friend of a friend who just happened to live at the end of my street. I tried ignoring her text but they just kept coming, the same message. I tried reading, doing laundry, just so I could avoid responding to those texts. But my conscious got the best of me. It had been hours since I heard the ping of that first text. If she was really in trouble I wouldn’t be able to live with the burden of guilt. I grabbed my keys and ran out the door. By the time I reached her front door I was panting, painfully out of shape. I pounded on the door. Marilyn smiled as she opened the door.
“You got my message! Do you have any parsley in your garden?”
Walking home, I blocked her number.
They gave her a watch at her retirement dinner. A watch! What was she supposed to do with it? She had no where to be anymore.
Lillian had worked at GenEd for 45 years, most of her adult life. Starting as a secretary, she gave up everything to advance up the proverbial ladder and smash through the glass ceiling until she became CEO. Now here she was, no family, no hobbies, no pets, no friends, and no job. Ah, but she did have a shiny gold Rolex.
The next morning she slept in for the first time in her life. She checked the time on her new watch – 7:00 a.m. Then she looked at her day planner. Nothing, no meetings, no appointments, no phone conferences. She had all day to do as she pleased.
After breakfast, after reading the paper, after checking email (there was none), after getting dressed, after checking for phone messages (none), she checked that shiny watch. It seemed to move very slowly, if at all.
Day one of retirement was not going well. She sat down at her desk, utterly confused.
How would she ever fill all the hours of the rest of her life?
I don’t know why I continue to visit. Mother no longer recognizes me and usually calls me by her sister’s name. Yesterday was the worst visit. When I put my coat on to leave she began rummaging through her closet.
“What are you looking for mom?”
“My purse. I can’t go without my purse!”
“Oh, I think you are staying here for dinner.” I tried to keep my voice light.
“No! I’ve got to get home to fix dinner for Al. He likes his dinner on the table after work.”
I knew not to tell her my father had died ten years ago.
Today she has asked me at least three times when we were going to eat lunch, even though we’d just left the dining room. The nurses tell me this is not unusual behavior for a person with dementia. But their words are not comforting. This is not how my mother, always a proper lady, should act. And if she realized she had soup spots on the front of her blouse she would be highly embarrassed.
Little by little she is fading way. Some day she will be gone. I guess this is a form of trial separation.
This weeks prompt was “trial separation”
My headache was back.
“Try acupuncture, acupressure, a little weed.”
My friends meant well but I had already tried it all. I went to New Mexico for heat therapy and ended up dehydrated with dry, flaky skin.
I travelled to Iceland for cold therapy. I came home with chilblains in my toes.
Light saber therapy just left me confused about who was my father.
Acupuncture did nothing but make me feel like a human pin cushion and acupressure actually tickled. The good thing about that was that I forgot about my headache when I was laughing. So I hopped on a plane bound for India for laugh therapy. It might have been effective except for the nasty case of “Delhi belly” I developed.
I’d rather not talk about the unfortunate affair of trying weed. All you need to know is that I never had a chance to try it and I met some really cool girls in jail.
Now I’m standing in front of the PIC clinic trying to muster up the courage to walk in. It is my last hope. I just had to swallow a capsule. I took a deep breath and entered the Parasites In Capsules clinic.
Parasite was the prompt at http://writingthe200.wordpress.com
Everyone else at the tree lot is searching for the “perfect” Christmas tree. A man holds a seven foot tree upright so his wife can pass judgement on its shape. A family debates whether or not the tree they like best will actually fit in their living room.
But I’m on a search for the tree no one else wants. A task that has become more difficult since Christmas trees are now raised on “farms” and only the trees with that classic cone shape make it to market.
At the end of a long row sits a smallish tree, trunk a little crooked, and branches that don’t conform to popular tastes – just the one I was looking for.
At home I put my little tree into the holder and make it as straight as possible. Then I find the worn cardboard box hidden behind the well organized plastic bins of ornaments. Inside are the tattered homemade decorations from my childhood. I string lights and paper chains on the tree and lovingly place each one. With the only the tree lights glowing, I close my eyes and take a step back in time, composing a love letter to my lost youth.
Carsen smiled sweetly. She always smiled sweetly, even when customers were rude. Like the woman in a chocolate brown designer suit who tried to use expired coupons.
“I’m sorry miss, it looks like some of your coupons are past their expiration dates.
Would you like me to dispose of them?”
“I certainly do not! Give them back!”
Carsen smiled sweetly, under the surface she was seething. This cashier job was supposed to be temporary, just until she finished school and found a “real” position. She couldn’t stand it much longer. One more “Scan faster!” from the retired man who has nowhere to be and she was quitting.
She looked up at the next customer, there he was. She flicked on her light and when the supervisor walked over Carsen asked for a short break. She headed straight to the store manager’s office, ready to turn in her keys.
“Ah, Carsen, I wanted to talk to you after your shift.”
Carsen smiled sweetly, under the surface she was trembling with shame. She had never been fired.
“I like your attitude and want to offer you the head cashier position.”
Carsen smiled sweetly, under the surface she was doing a happy dance.