Drama Fiction Inspirational

Are you there, God?

It’s me.

I’d like to know

If there’s a prayer

For the strong?

You see, I’m strong.

I know I’m strong

Because all day

I go from house to house

And I sit at tables

And people tell me

What a wonderful person

My husband was

And they offer me coffee

Good coffee


The kind you get

As part of a subscription service

Where every month

It’s Peru or Argentina

And when you make it

The whole house fills up

With that potent roasted smell

That makes you feel

Taken care of

These people

In these houses

They take care of me

We sit and they take my hands

And we pray

And they cry

And I do not

And because I sit there

And because I do not cry

They say to me

They say--

‘You are so strong’

But I need a prayer

And so here I am


If there is a prayer

For the strong

Because we know

What the weak need

They need our prayers

But is it possible

That the strong

Need our prayers as well?

When I lost Ernie

People used to beg me

To cry in public

Oh, they didn’t come right out

And beg with their words

But with their eyes

With the way they’d grip me

Hold me

Embrace me

Their perfume assaulting me

Their cologne infiltrating my nostrils

Letting me know they took out the fancy fragrances

Just for me

To let me know

How important I am to them

And how much my loss

Means to them

They came to the wake

And they gathered me up

Like a child gathering up her dolls

Not wanting to let any of them go

And they never put me down

They just held me

And as they were holding me

They said “It’s going to be okay”

And I don’t know

If they really knew

What that meant

What “Okay” can mean

To a woman who has lost the man

She’s spent more than forty years

Of her life with

What can “Okay” mean

To a person like that?

In that situation?

As the ashes of her husband

Sits in an silver urn

With a small engraving

That says “I’ll be seeing you”

That night, back at home

Alone for the first time

Since I was twenty-years-old

I went outside

And I looked at the moon

And I tried to say a prayer

But a prayer to who?

And for what purpose?

My husband was at peace

After a prolonged battle

With a disease that took

Everything from him

But his integrity

Did he lose his dignity?

What is dignity?

Integrity are photos of your children

Integrity lives in your bones

It exists in the walls of the house

You spent your life paying for

So that your wife could try to sleep

Knowing that nothing was due

And nothing was overlooked

My husband was fastidious

And he had no time for religion

So if I went to church

I went home

And when I got back

We would go to the casino

And he would have me blow on dice

And sometimes he’d win

And when he did

He’d call me his lucky charm

And he’d buy me a steak at the steakhouse

And we’d both have beers

And act like teenagers

Because when I was fourteen

I lost my mother in a car accident

And when he was sixteen

He lost his father to a heart attack

And when you lose your parents that young

You lose your youth as well

So we tried to get it back

Whenever we could

However we could

And if he made a big bet

I would say a small prayer

But when we lost

I didn’t cry

And when my father woke me up

In the middle of the night

Two days before my fifteenth birthday

To tell me my mother was gone

I didn’t cry

And when I miscarried the first child

Ernie and I were going to have

I didn’t cry

And I remember my sister

Over the phone with me

Getting choked up

And telling me

That I would be fine

Because I was so strong

And that she would say a prayer for me

And I tried to imagine

What kind of prayer that could be

A Prayer for the Strong

Do the strong even need

A prayer?

God, I need a prayer

Because everyone’s gone home

The cakes and cookies

Are in the refrigerator

Enjoying the low hum

That sounds so loud

Now that I’m alone in the house

My kids will call tomorrow

And when they hear

That I sound the same

They’ll feel better

And they’ll keep feeling better

And I’ll keep showing up

To birthday parties and holidays

With my hair done

And my make-up done

And a smile on my face

So my grandkids don’t ask

Why grandma is sad

My daughter-in-law

And my son-in-law

And my children

Will all think to themselves

That I’m strong

And if they pray

They’ll say a prayer of thanks

That they were given

Such a fortified matriarch

And they’ll wonder to themselves

If they’ll be strong

When the clock strikes for them

The way it has for me

And I hope they are

I pray that they are

But I need a prayer now

Not to stay strong

Because to be honest

There are times

Many times

When I resent

Being strong

Because being strong

Sometimes feels

Like being invisible

When people see

That they don’t need

To worry about you

They find someone else

To worry about

And the warmth of their concern

Is bestowed upon someone else

And you’re left

In the shadow of their relief

Ernie had a problem with drinking

For a few years

Early on in our marriage

And I never noticed

Because he was never late for work

And he shaved everyday

I didn’t think I needed to worry

Because Ernie was on time

Because Ernie’s cheek was smooth

When I kissed it every morning

Before sending him off

To an office

In the city

To a job he hated

Where he would take spiked sips

From a thermos

He kept in his desk drawer

I didn’t pray for Ernie

Until the night he broke down

Sitting on our bed

Because I cleaned the bathroom

And accidentally threw out his razor

And so he couldn’t shave

And if he couldn’t shave

He thought I would see it

I would see

That he was no longer strong

That night I took his hands

And they shook

They shook so violently

It felt like a test

Could I hold them long enough

To finish a prayer

My Ernie was strong

But he needed me

And he needed my prayers

And I live with guilt

Every single day

That I only started praying

When I saw those hands shaking

When I saw the strength leaving him

Because the strength had become a burden

Because it meant that you were alone

When you’re weak

Someone will find you

Someone will help you

Someone will take pity on you

Who finds you when you’re strong?

Who says “Let go of all that strength?”

Who says “I’ll be strong for you?”

God, I need a prayer

A Prayer for the Strong

That begins with a witness

And ends with an epiphany

That perhaps the strong

Are strong

Because we know

That our strength

Is all we’ll be given

In this life

It’s all we’ll have

And all we’ll have

To believe in

Standing like an island

Surrounded by weakness

Scared to step into it

Knowing we’ll be torn apart

By those who need

What we have

And almost wanting to

Almost wanting

To step into it

So we can just

Be cared for

And worried about

And experience

The concern of others

Feel all that strength

Leave us

And then say--


February 11, 2022 06:01

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Zack Powell
06:21 Feb 12, 2022

Holy cow, I wish I'd seen this before I submitted my last-minute story this week. I could've saved myself an extra $5! I've been on this site for a few months now, and, man. This was completely unlike anything I've seen here. The format was fresh and creative, the narrator's voice was strong, and the content of the story was fantastic and emotional. Perfect title too. Repetition is my guilty pleasure in fiction, and seeing the phrase "Prayer For the Strong" pop up every now and then was great, like a refrain in a hymn. Wouldn't be shocked t...


Shea West
17:24 Feb 12, 2022

Looks like we're both out $5!!!!


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Kevin Broccoli
19:34 Feb 12, 2022

Thank you so much, Zack. I really appreciate it.


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K. Antonio
23:07 Feb 11, 2022

You've literally done something I've always wanted to do and never have, which is write a short story in verse. It was such an interesting read to be forced to read this story slowly and take it in differently. I always find that verses force the reader to take more time to read and think. Really cool take on the prompt, Kevin!


Kevin Broccoli
19:34 Feb 12, 2022

Thank you so much!


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17:18 Feb 18, 2022

Kevin, this is gorgeous and heartfelt. The short phrases really do read like a prayer (or poem) and I have always loved this form of prose. I can't wait to read what you submit next, I will be keeping an eye on your work!


Kevin Broccoli
17:30 Feb 18, 2022

Thank you very much, Hannah.


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B.T Beauregard
18:24 Feb 13, 2022

Dang. This is awesome. The formatting is so unique, I haven't seen anything like it from my time on Reedsy, and I love it. We get such a beautiful story here told in just short, simple phrases. You manage to capture one persons experience with these short phrases. The rhythm is amazing as well. This piece has a heartbeat that pulls the reader along every word. This is beautiful. Amazing job.


Kevin Broccoli
03:57 Feb 14, 2022

Thank you so much.


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Shea West
17:25 Feb 12, 2022

Kevin. Bravo my friend. What a way to hit that 70th story mark with such a beautiful narrative prose. This isn't like anything I've ever read of yours, and I commend you on a job well done. I think because it's so the opposite of your refined humor, or nuanced and rich pieces this hits me differently. In a way that I kind of sigh out in relief, like "Oh, there he is. Look how he did that." This is how it's done. You sneak attacked us Kevin. Well done.


Kevin Broccoli
19:34 Feb 12, 2022

Thank you. It's so interesting because the people who know me as a playwright know this is more in line with the structure and tone I usually use in my plays, so it's been so useful exploring another side of myself here, but then trying to combine what I've learned from all of you and bring what I do as a playwright into it.


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