Still there

by | Oct 11, 2011 | Fiction, Flash fiction, Relationships | 10 comments

This story won first place in the Redwood Writers recent flash fiction contest:

Still There
By Laura McHale Holland

He told her he was done. No more. The shrill voice, the cantaloupes rotting on the counter, rows of yellowed newspapers stacked to the ceiling, the ivy encroaching, blocking out the sun. The years filled with promises broken. He’d had enough.

She sat in her recliner as usual. The TV blared another episode of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Southern Comfort bottles rattled on the floor as trucks zoomed along the nearby freeway.

“I’m not coming back, Mom,” he said. “Not until you do something for yourself, make some kind of effort.”

Her skeletal tabby meowed and rubbed against his legs. “I’m taking Daisy with me,” he said. “You don’t even care about her anymore.” He lifted the cat in his arms and stomped out the door, slamming it closed with his foot. The home creaked. A condolence card fell from the mantle and landed in her lap.

The card was still there two weeks later when her landlord stopped in. Newspapers had piled up on her front porch, and she wasn’t answering the phone.

The coroner estimated she’d been dead at least a month.

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10 Comments

  1. Katherine Delagrange

    I like this one the best so far.

  2. admin

    Thank you, Katherine. I’ll have to be sure to include it when I put some of these together in a story collection.

  3. Holly Whitman

    Wow! Good story!

  4. admin

    Thank you, dear Holly! It was fun watching it unfold in my imagination and to be surprised at the end. I didn’t know what the last line would be until I wrote it down. Then there was that “aha” moment. :o)

  5. wordwranglinwoman

    Laura, I simply love the labyrinth of your mind. wordwrangling woman

  6. admin

    Thank you, dear Word Wranglin’ Woman. You just made my day!

  7. Robin Leigh Morgan

    SHOCKING – A woman has a son who doesn’t see her on a regular basis comes home to find

    The shrill voice [which he recalls from memory]

    He see cantaloupes rotting on the counter, rows of yellowed newspapers stacked to the ceiling, the ivy encroaching, blocking out the sun. [sounds like a lonely hoarder to me]

    The years filled with promises broken [growing up].

    He’d had enough. [sounds like he’s even disgusted with himself]

    Old folks usually sit for hours on end watching television, even falling asleep while it’s still on.

    And being mad at her, he didn’t realized anything was wrong. Of course the cat looked like a skeleton, it hadn’t been fed for about two weeks. Coroner came by two weeks after the son had left and stated she had been dead for a month. Shows the son didn’t even noticed she had been dead for two weeks when he came by.

    You have to feel sorry for the woman, she had a son who probably cared more for himself than her.

    I believe when you wrote
    “Southern Comfort bottles rattled on the floor”
    the imagery could have been increase by writing
    “Empty Southern …….”

    Here I go again. Taking liberty to rewrite something someone else has written, especially when it won a contest.

  8. admin

    Thanks for your thoughts on this, Robin. I’m planning to publish a collection of these next year sometime, so I’ll be polishing them. I pictured empty Southern Comfort bottles as I was writing but didn’t identify them as such. It might be an improvement to do that, so I’ll definitely consider it in the editing process. Thanks again.

  9. Robin Leigh Morgan

    In regards to the word “empty”. I tried to increase which is being created.

    I can’t picture = Southern Comfort bottles rattled on the floor as trucks zoomed along the nearby freeway.

    When I had suggest adding empty, I thought about full bottle as you must have, I can’t see them moving easily on the floor as the trucks zoomed….

    Empty bottles would not only tend to move easier on the floor than full bottles, the sound they would make when hitting each other,

    The location base on what you wrote would be set in the country, probably the south.
    With that being the case, I would have written
    … as the semis zoomed on the nearby interstate.
    Semis are much larger than trucks and would therefore increase the possibilty of the empty bottle rattling. In addition, the word “freeway” seems to indicate that you live in California
    and possibly L.A.; Californians typically called their roadways – freeways. “Interstate” I would be more appropriate for the setting of the story.

    Having the “empty” bottles on the floor would also increase the picture of the loneliness the woman had to deal with, so much so that the only way she could find companionship was the
    Southern Comfort bottles when they were full. And that she drank herself to death.

    The question now is whether the changes I’ve suggested is not what you wanted your readers
    to get, or has the changes intensified the images/emotions you had in mind when you wrote
    his. Hope I haven’t been too critical in reviewing this matter.

  10. admin

    You haven’t been too critical at all. I’ll keep thinking about the use of “empty.” I’ve got to focus on my day-job right now, so I’ll be out of touch for a while. Thanks again!

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