Contest #89 winner 🏆

225 comments

Apr 16, 2021

Sad

Hugo-

Day one, the hottest day in July. The kind of hot that makes the neighbors forgo underwear and plant themselves in front of oscillating fans. Feet planted in small kiddie pools filled with tepid tap water, topped off with bagged ice from the corner market. The breeze from the fan casting across the iced pools does nothing to diminish the warmth from their radiating bodies. Instead it pushes the sweat further across their faces and thighs until they are all shiny with sweat.


It’s nearly impossible to forget day one. You try, yet day one is the day you’ll scramble for breath. You’ll put on the bravest of faces to give your daughter Thea oxygen as you hold the side of her head to your chest. She will appreciate the firm pressure you apply to her quivering body. The grief inundating from her youthful frame, forcing you back- one, two, three, steps until you both collapse onto the couch. Sweat and tears, they’re all the same.


How can a girl live without her mother? How will I breathe without her modeling what a strong exhale looks like? 


It will be all she can say.


You wonder in your emotional greed, Where does she keep all of the passwords? Thea’s birth certificate? Is she allergic to anything?


Raeann-

Their day one is polar opposite of your day one. The body that carried you through life for the past four decades decided the narrative of living a nice long life is a lie. To find out that you’re going to die is far less painful than hearing that you are dead. The dead don’t hear pain. The dead don’t feel it either. 


It’s terminal, you have weeks at best Raeann. I’m so sorry. 


You are sent home with instructions of getting your affairs in order. Pamphlets titled, “How to tell your loved ones that you are dying,” as if there is a simple bullet point plan to button up all of your affairs before you go. 


Step 1, I’m dying. But I left a few lasagnas in the freezer for busy nights. 


Hugo-

Planning a funeral is foreboding. The weatherman says to expect more heat hazes. You don’t know exactly what that is, but you’ve already spent hours on the internet searching for a cure. What's another few minutes? 


Heat haze: also called heat shimmer, refers to the inferior mirage observed when viewing objects through a mass of heated air.

Relief floods your body, panic eases up. This isn’t the end, it’s all a mirage. It has to be. 


Raeann-

Everything after the first day is now called the in between, and that’s just how you’ve come to accept it. Call your mother more, but not so much that she suspects that there is something to be worried about. Mothers know. 


Revel in the fact that the word hug happens to be the first three letters of your husband's name, as he is the best hugger you’ve ever met. Hugging him a little bit longer feels like a possible cure for the incurable.


Forget the pamphlets, your family deserves a better send off than that. The blogs online say to leave a video diary for your daughter because she might forget the way the dimples tucked into your cheeks are deep enough to hold a cat's eye marble in each of them.


Don’t let her forget.


The idea of a camera taping your face not looking like your face is unsettling. It is then you decide on cassettes, they’re the happy medium. Even if cassette tapes are “so out of style,” they might be even more treasured due to the rarity of them.


Nothing screams a mothers legacy like antiquated methods of communication. Might as well break out the typewriter and ribbon of ink. 


Hugo-

In-laws, they’re a mixed bag. Naturally they have known your beloved Raeann for the longest. They created her so there is ownership there.


Let them visit and call and video chat.

It’s all that they will get of her.


You’ll be left with the daughter you share, and the smell of her lilac shampoo on the bed linens you agreed to buy at the big box store. The in-laws won’t get to smell her again, but you will, at least a little longer before the next load goes in the wash.


Raeann-

To make a mixed tape you have to consider two things:

Who you’re making the tape for and the occasion.


Remind yourself that this isn’t a John Hughes movie, and Thea won’t be walking away with the love of her life but rather losing you. Of course there are times when you hear a little melody on the radio and think to yourself, Thea would love this song. Then, add bits of wisdom and sayings to the playlists, for days when she needs advice but you aren’t there to give it.


A mother knows exactly what kind of music will make her daughters eyes sparkle, even if it is followed by a tiny eye roll. It’s some kind of magic to possess this kind of knowing about a teenager even if she is your child.


You wonder if anyone else will ever know your daughter this way.


Hugo-

She told you that there’d be tapes. That you’d have to give them to Thea, maybe one morning as you sip your coffee black and dark roasted the way that you like it. 


It’s important Hugo, it’s all I have left to give her. Well, and you of course. 


Those dimples, you won’t be able to say no to her and so you agree with a gentle head nod and deep hug. 


Through sickness and health was the vow? What about death and grief, what’s the vow look like after that?

More haziness.


Raeann-

Your last day comes twenty-nine days after your first. Cliche, that’s what the last thirty days will be. Like a film reel, memories click and spin for one last viewing in your mind's eye. Not in black and white, but in vibrant colors of finger painted construction paper and alabaster hydrangeas in wedding centerpieces. 


Wait until Thea nods off in the corner chair of your room, wrapped in the blanket you both sewed together out of your old shirts. Absorb the tiny bit of warmth from Hugo’s hand wrapped around the frail fingers on yours. These hands spent many hours laced together over the years and now his hands will spend hours pressing play for Thea.


It’s time for your strong exhale.


Hugo-

Pull the old cassette player down from the attic, blow off the decades of dust. 


Imagine the look on your daughter’s face when the carefully curated tapes are placed in her young hands with three freckles alongside the edge of her knuckles. The freckles lightly kiss her milky skin, and you breathe out a little in relief knowing that they look ordinary.


She won’t want the tapes. Her eyes might brim with orbs of salted water. A sense of begging will slip past her lips, Please daddy I’m not ready yet


You stare at the dimples she inherited from her mother, pressing your warm thumb into one of them as you hold gently to her chin. Picturing the future, you wonder who will take her wedding dress shopping, and who will take her phone calls if she loses a baby. 


It will be you of course.


Press play.


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225 comments

Writer Maniac
14:50 Apr 23, 2021

Beautiful. That was beautifully written. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, it flowed wonderfully throughout. The prose however sad, still radiated hope and deep love. Very well deserved win, congrats!

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Shea Redmond
04:14 Apr 24, 2021

Ah! Thank you so much. I admire your stories so much and I to hear your feedback that you liked this one means a lot.

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Writer Maniac
04:50 Apr 24, 2021

That's such a big compliment coming from a prolific writer such as yourself!

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Shea Redmond
15:46 Apr 24, 2021

Prolific usually applies to my snack making skills for my kids, but I'll trust you on this LOL

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Writer Maniac
15:51 Apr 24, 2021

You won honey, that's all the proof you need that you have a knack for this writing thing ;)

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Innocent Noble
05:12 Apr 24, 2021

Sister we all are proud of you; you are talented and a living legend

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Rose Of venus
16:28 Apr 23, 2021

Oh my gosh! I'm in tears! This was so heart-wrenchingly, beautifully written. I don't know what I'd do without my mama.

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Shea Redmond
18:59 Apr 23, 2021

I don't know what I'd do without my mama either. When I wrote this I was thinking of the child and what she might want from her mom that might be everlasting. Thank you for your comment.

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Innocent Noble
05:16 Apr 24, 2021

hmmmmmmmmm.........I never have a mama and I do not know how would be she......may be kind......may be helping.......but life moves on

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Kristin Neubauer
15:18 Apr 23, 2021

YAY!! I am so glad this won! A truly truly very well-deserved win. Huge congratulations!!!

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Shea Redmond
18:57 Apr 23, 2021

Thank you so much Kristin!

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Michael Boquet
14:08 Apr 23, 2021

I love the switching back and forth between points of view. The second person perspective is well written but I was confused about the subject. There were times when it was hard to tell whether it applied to Hugo and Reann respectively, or was meant for the reader. Great use of imagery throughout. A moving story and creatively told. Congrats on the win

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Shea Redmond
18:59 Apr 23, 2021

Can you tell me more about your confusion on the subject? I want to make sure I can fill in any blanks for you if you'd like. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it's so helpful.

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Michael Boquet
20:29 Apr 23, 2021

I meant it wasn't always clear, to me, who 'you' was i.e. the reader or Hugo/Reann. In terms of clarity, I think 3rd person would have been stronger. Though in terms of prose/creativity 2nd person was a bold choice.

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Shea Redmond
04:11 Apr 24, 2021

Interesting! When I had the idea, 3rd person didn't even cross my mind. I could certainly see how it might work that way too. Thank you for your feedback.

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Innocent Noble
05:13 Apr 24, 2021

Wow

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Innocent Noble
13:16 May 01, 2021

Do you have the copy of any of my story

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Claire Lewis
16:30 Apr 17, 2021

Shea, this is so touching! I loved that you wove the two perspectives together, but that they’re in second person so it hits even harder. There are a lot of wonderful things here, from the lovely prose to the recurring imagery. It’s beautifully done. A couple small wording critiques to consider if this hasn’t been approved yet: “The in-laws won’t get to smell her in again, at least you will get to for a little longer before the next load goes into the wash.” Consider rewording: The in-laws won’t get to smell her again, but you will, at le...

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Shea Redmond
16:58 Apr 17, 2021

Claire, thank you so much for taking the time to read and give feedback. Your suggestions are great! I reread those parts and your critiques do make more sense than what I had there. I'm a really big fan of your stories, I've probably said as much! My mother always tells me if you admire something in someone tell them, and tell them often <3

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Claire Lewis
18:32 Apr 23, 2021

Congrats on the win!!! I’m not surprised at all, it’s so well-deserved!

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Shea Redmond
18:44 Apr 23, 2021

Thank you Claire. I'm surprised at how this even happened! But I'm working on saying thank you more when I receive praise <3

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Claire Lewis
17:16 Apr 17, 2021

Moms always give the best advice, and I definitely appreciate the affirmation! I’m looking forward to reading the stories you mentioned were your favorites :)

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Shea Redmond
17:59 Apr 16, 2021

I've never, ever written in second person. I hope I didn't butcher it!

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Zilla Babbitt
14:01 Apr 24, 2021

No, this was excellent. You welcomed me into your world and made me tear up. This is a unique story and I am so happy to have read it. Deserved win!

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Shea Redmond
15:47 Apr 24, 2021

Thank you Zilla. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with how gracious and generous everyone is with their words.

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Rose Of venus
16:28 Apr 23, 2021

Oh my gosh! I'm in tears! This was so heart-wrenchingly, beautifully written. I don't know what I'd do without my mama.

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Meggysa Nine
16:11 Apr 23, 2021

This is so beautiful! And this part: "What about death and grief, what's the vow look like after that?"... made my lips curve downwards. I love it! ❤❤❤

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Shea Redmond
19:01 Apr 23, 2021

I've read a grief memoir recently that kind of explored that notion. Like how long does one wait to fall in love again? Are you breaking vows if you do love again? And what does that look like? There's no life manual, and there certainly isn't any "Now that I'm dead" manual either. Thank you for your words.

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Charli Britton
16:07 Apr 23, 2021

Relief floods your body, panic eases up. This isn’t the end, it’s all a mirage. It has to be. I love the way you related the heat waves into he story. It was very touching and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Congrats on the win, this story certainly deserves it!

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Shea Redmond
19:03 Apr 23, 2021

Sometimes the process of grief can feel like you're sweating it out and can't cool down. At least that's been my experience. I like to think that we look back at the time of life when we lose a loved one and there are these things that stand out. Like in this case, the heat and heat waves. I'm so glad you liked that part of the story. Thank you!

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Charli Britton
20:01 Apr 23, 2021

Of course. I like to try and read/comment on people's stories as often as I can. It always makes me feel amazing when I get a comment or a like, so I know I had to leave a comment AND a like on yours :)

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Charli Britton
17:35 Apr 24, 2021

Hmm... I just might hold you to that ;) Thanks, anything would be appreciated

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Shea Redmond
15:48 Apr 24, 2021

I always try to do that too. Give me some time as I make my way to your page, but please know that I will!

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Innocent Noble
05:17 Apr 24, 2021

Well said queen majesty, your all words are best and royal and I learn a lot

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15:57 Apr 23, 2021

Congratulations on the win! This heartbreaking but beautiful story is such a deserved win. Great job!

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Shea Redmond
19:03 Apr 23, 2021

Thank you so much!

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21:04 Apr 23, 2021

No problem!

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15:57 Apr 23, 2021

Congratulations on the win! This heartbreaking but beautiful story is such a deserved win. Great job!

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Geo The writer
15:53 Apr 23, 2021

Heart-rendering piece of art. I got a little bit confused at the beginning about who is the main character, but that feeling evaporated. The tension grows more palpable with every change of POV ending with a heart-twisting paragraph. The story itself goes smoothly, with no mistakes, and it leaves an impression of hard work and editing.

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Shea Redmond
19:04 Apr 23, 2021

My hope was to show how it changed so much but in different ways for the husband and the wife. I'm glad the feeling evaporated. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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Innocent Noble
05:20 Apr 24, 2021

May you couple happily live forever.........many kind wishes......bunch of roses for such a nice couple on planet earth........I always lived after separation of mama papa and now lived me as same.........but its well.......

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Wow, Shea! This was so beautiful! A deserved win! Keep it up <3

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Shea Redmond
00:00 Apr 25, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Shea Redmond
23:59 Apr 24, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Aurora Spencer
13:29 Apr 24, 2021

I love the way you've written this story, switching perspectives as it unfolded. You've made a great use of this prompt, and your story is beautiful, heartbreaking, and creative at the same time. This completely deserved the win. Congratulations on your win, Shea! I would love to read what else you write. :)

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Shea Redmond
15:53 Apr 24, 2021

I would love if you read some of my other stuff too. If you would like, my story "Smile." It's my next favorite story that I have written with my time here at Reedsy. I'd love to read some of your stories too. Do have a favorite that you like?

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Aurora Spencer
14:28 Apr 25, 2021

Sure, definitely! I'll read that story now :) Thank you! I have only one story up till now and I'd love if you could read that one.

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Shea Redmond
16:12 Apr 25, 2021

Read + commented!

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Aurora Spencer
16:45 Apr 28, 2021

Thank you!

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Amy A
21:07 Apr 23, 2021

Beautiful. Well deserved win! Congratulations!

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Shea Redmond
04:09 Apr 24, 2021

Thank you so much for taking the time to read.

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Innocent Noble
19:35 Apr 23, 2021

Congrats, best story, you deserve to win

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Shea Redmond
04:16 Apr 24, 2021

Thank you Angelica.

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Innocent Noble
05:39 Apr 24, 2021

Welcome your highness

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Innocent Noble
05:39 Apr 24, 2021

Superb writer

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Chelsea Iversen
18:00 Apr 23, 2021

Loved reading this! Very well written, congrats!

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Shea Redmond
04:16 Apr 24, 2021

I'm so happy you enjoyed it.

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Kiran Nawaz
17:24 Apr 23, 2021

I am not able to interpret this story. Sorry!

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Shea Redmond
04:16 Apr 24, 2021

No worries!

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Ro Gardje
17:21 Apr 23, 2021

A well deserved win! Brilliant story, my heart aches, but I love it when a story does that. Great job! Congrats! ❤️

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Shea Redmond
04:16 Apr 24, 2021

I'm sorry for the heart ache ;)

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Ro Gardje
04:21 Apr 24, 2021

Haha it's gooooood

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Ellie Yu
17:14 Apr 23, 2021

This story completely blows me away. It’s so beautiful, and heartbreaking at the same time. What a deserved win!

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Shea Redmond
04:17 Apr 24, 2021

You're very kind, thank you.

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