Drama Sad Contemporary

Dear Sereva,

I wanted you to listen

To this song I wrote

I’ve never written

A song in my life

Or anything, really

In my life

Not a poem

Not a short story

Not unless it was in school

And a teacher

Was making me do it

The thought of paragraphs

Terrifies me to this day

And so even now

I have to break down the lines

As I’m typing this out to you

I also have to be careful

Because the nurses here

Love to keep an eye on us

As though we’re prisoners

Instead of residents here

At Farmington Pond

My daughter dropped me here

On my sixty-ninth birthday

After a minor stroke

And I assume she thought

I would only be here

For a year or two

Before the long hand of oblivion

Swept me up into its palm

Who would have thought

That ten years later

I’d still be kicking

With only some small

Permanent setbacks

From the stroke

My hands work fine

But certain words

Trip me up

And when I go to remember

Anything before the age of nine

My brain gets foggy

Although that might be protective

More than anything

If you knew what kind of childhood I had

My father didn’t let us

Listen to music

Unless it was bluegrass

Because for some reason

He enjoyed bluegrass

Although I never cared for it much

Nothing against the genre

But I think when something’s forced on you

You have a natural tendency

To pull back from it

“Elizabeth,” he’d scream up the stairs

If he heard me playing “Yakety Yak”

Or “Hard Headed Woman”

All I needed to hear

Was my name

And I knew I was going

To get a lecture and a half

Out of him

And when it was done

And I was sitting on that

Dusty old couch

Feeling like he’d taken me apart

And forgotten to put me back together

My mother would come into the room

Just to remind me

That her father beat her

And so wasn’t I lucky

That all my father did

Was explain to me

What a little bit of nothing I was

With all that, it’s a miracle

I managed to raise kids

That don’t hate me

But even when they don’t hate you

They still don’t know

What to do with you

Once you need them

More than they need you

As if either one of you

Is comfortable

With the shifting dynamics

I didn’t hate my daughter

For dropping me off here

But I had a kind of general anger

From that point on

At everything and everyone

That is--until I heard you

One of the nurses

Was playing your music

Behind the front desk

Even though she’s not supposed to

It was close to 2am

And I couldn’t sleep

But the rest of my floor

Is out like the dead

So I decided to go

Into the recreation room

And see what was on

Late night cable

I passed by the desk

And tried not to catch

The attention of the nurse

Even though she’s one

Of the nicer ones

That’s when I heard it

That song of yours

That filthy, vile song

“Big Mistake”

Isn’t it funny

How you can hear something

So shocking

And yet, you can’t stop listening to it

I stood there stock still

And listened while that song played

Until the nurse turned around

And nearly jumped out of her skin

To see me standing there

In my nightgown and robe

“Elizabeth,” she said, “Do you need something?”

I told her I needed

To know the name

Of that song

Now I listen to it

Night and day

Whenever I get a chance

The admin who checks on me

Says it’s not appropriate

As though I’m back to being fourteen again

Listening to my father tell me

How girls who play Elvis on their record player

Grow up to be street walkers

I would “Yes” the admin to death

And then go right back

To listening

Pretty soon, it wasn’t just that one song

Within a week

I had memorized your entire first album

And there are days

When I can’t even remember

What I had for lunch

Every song on it was overly sexual

And suggestive

And I couldn’t get enough

I’d hum it first thing in the morning

And all day long

Until I was back in bed

Then, and only then,

Would I allow myself

The pleasure of playing

That one ballad of yours

Softly next to my pillow

On the little CD player

I’ve had since my husband

Was alive and we’d go

On walks together

The way you sing ‘Serenade”

Is so beautiful

And I love how the title

Blends in with your name

You really are a lovely girl

And I’m sure all that cavorting

You do onstage and at your concerts

Is just you putting on a persona

I used to have to do

The same thing

When I was younger

Play at being a good daughter

Play at being a good wife

Play at being a good mother

And all the while

I wanted to rip my myself open

And step out as a different person altogether

I found that I couldn’t stop

At your music

I had to know everything

About you

I’d go on the computers

In the library

And read your Wikipedia

Top to bottom

Then I started reading articles about you

The good and the bad

(The New York Post sure despises you, huh?)

I had that nurse I like

Covertly make me a Twitter account

So I could read all the gossip about you

The stuff even the magazines

Can’t be bothered to write about

Rumors about who you’re dating

Who you’ve been seen with

That story about you and that guy

And that other girl

All spending a month in Greece together

And how maybe the three of you

Were engaged at some point

I read it all

And I kept reading

That’s how I found

The messageboards

All these people

Going back and forth

About things they’ve heard about you

And so much of it

Clearly not being true at all

I wanted to set them all straight

But if I said anything

Right away, they would all begin

To attack me

And fending them off

Took hours

And then I’d get yelled at by admin

For hogging the library computer

The messageboards are like a game

You have to learn

Which comment gets you ahead

And which sends you back

To the beginning

I didn’t want to say mean things about you

But if I said anything too nice

They’d call me all sorts of names

And threaten to boot me from the group

Good or bad

This was the most conversation

I’d had with any group of people

Since way back

When I was working

For the phone company

I found it stimulating

To figure out

What these people

Wanted to hear

And how I could phrase it in a way

That wouldn’t betray you

But would still endear me

To the anonymous posters

Like “SerevaSucks909”

That was how the rumor

Got started

You had been missing

From all your usual

Online places

And nobody had seen you

Plus you had canceled that concert

And boy, people were mad at you!

Everybody wanted to know

Where you were

And why you were letting

All your fans down

Fans like me

Who, sure, weren’t going

To go to your concert

Because I can’t afford it

And I have no way

Of getting there

But who still worry about you

And want to make sure you’re alright

Sereva, I don’t know

If you saw the comment I left

Or if somebody told you about it

But I promise all it said

Was “Maybe she’s pregnant?”

Did you see

How I wrote the word “maybe?”

Did you see

How I didn’t say I knew you were pregnant

Because how could I know?

How could anyone know but you?

I didn’t know everybody

Was going to start repeating it

Like it was a fact

And I definitely didn’t know

That the news would report it

And say it was speculation

But still act as though

That meant it was practically true

And the thing I really

Couldn’t have known

Was that you were pregnant

And you were trying to keep it a secret

And when you heard people talking about it

The stress put you in the hospital

And you almost lost the baby

If I knew all that

Could happen

Just from one

Stupid comment

I would have never even

Gone near that computer

I would just kept

Playing gin rummy

With the other women

On my floor

And I would have enjoyed your music

And never tried

To learn a single thing about you

Sereva, I know you must be

Furious with me and I don’t blame you

But I want you to know

I decided to apologize

By doing something

I’ve never done before

I wrote you a song

When I was young

And did something wrong

My father would make me

Write out poetry

And I hated it

It helped me learn

A lot of poetry

But it also made me

Dislike it so much

I never touched a book

Of Frost or Dickinson since

But something

In my bones

Seems to believe

That when you err

You rectify by writing

And so that’s what I’ve done

I wrote a song

About you and for you

Called ‘Big Mistake’

Same as your song

But with a different tune

And different words

And what I did was

I wrote down the words

And then practiced

Singing it over and over

Until I was ready to record it

On this little tape recorder

That the nurse I like

Has on her phone

She recorded me

And then helped me

Attach the recording

To an email

And then left me

To write whatever I wanted

To say to you

And that’s what I’m doing now

It’s very late here

But I don’t know where you are

I just hope it’s somewhere nice

I know you’re expecting

And you’re due soon

And I’m glad it seems like

Everything is going well

With the pregnancy

Based on that interview you did

With that lady on the tv

Whose hair I don’t like

I want to tell my daughter

All about the mess I got into

But she hasn’t come

For a visit in awhile

Maybe she’s ashamed of me

But why should she be ashamed

When she doesn’t even know

There’s something to be ashamed of?

Maybe she doesn’t need a reason

Maybe nobody does

I apologize for the sound

On the recording

Not just for my lack of vocal ability

But for how softly I’m singing

The nurse said we had

To be careful

Not to wake anyone up

Even though you couldn’t wake

Most of these people up

With a foghorn

I’m singing low

But if you can bring

Your phone or your computer

Or whatever you get email on

Really close to your ear

I think you can hear me just fine

Obviously there’s no

Direct email to you

But I think all the emails

To your fan club

Must go straight to you

Isn’t that right?

I hope I’m right

I know you won’t like the song

But it’s not really for liking

It’s just a way to say “I’m sorry”

You can play it once

And then never listen

To it again

You know, as soon as I recorded it

I completely forgot

How it was supposed to go

Isn’t that funny?

What stays with you

And what leaves?

Some songs stick

And some don’t

So you just listen

And then forget it

And then forget me too

No use remembering

Somebody like me

Even if I never stop

Remembering you

June 10, 2023 01:09

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Lily Finch
14:25 Jun 14, 2023

Kevin, a running diatribe of the meandering thoughts of a lonely old woman who believes she is the reason a rumour is perpetuated out there and then her attempt to make amends. I like how you showed that her stroke affected her in the way you presented her language and scope of topic. Your level of creativity with the narration and weaving of story intermixed with the diatribe is awesome and engaging. You captured it so beautifully in this piece. I am so impressed with how you did that. This tale is intricate and has layers and is just...


Story Time
16:27 Jun 14, 2023

Thank you so much, Lily.


Lily Finch
22:52 Jun 14, 2023

NP, long time no chat. You okay?


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Graham Kinross
00:35 Jun 30, 2023

Another wonderful story. Having a foggy memory is a scary thing. The idea of being in a care home is an odd idea as well. I’m never sure how I feel about them.


Story Time
17:50 Jun 30, 2023

Thank you, Graham.


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Amanda Lieser
19:52 Jun 26, 2023

Hi Kevin, This was a beautifully crafted poem that told us an incredible story. I loved the way that you pointed out the tragedy of this characters, life and all the different ways that she has managed to keep calm and carry on that one line about her mother’s father really stuck out to me and I can’t imagine feeling like you’re stuck in that cycle. I think the way that you chose a setting was fitting as well-how often do we set aside our elderly because it’s inconvenient to try to care for them? This was a wonderful response to the prompt. ...


Story Time
20:17 Jun 26, 2023

Thank you so much, Amanda.


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Nina H
11:21 Jun 22, 2023

This was powerful and creative


Story Time
16:22 Jun 22, 2023

Thank you so much, Nina.


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Raymond Ogilvie
04:13 Jun 15, 2023

This was a very sweet story (and a little sad too). I like your unique take on the obsessive fan character. Also enjoyed the stylized format, I feel it really added to Elizabeth's character.


Story Time
16:14 Jun 15, 2023

Thank you so much, Raymond.


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Olivia Lake
23:11 Jun 13, 2023

You say so much and paint a full picture of the narrator in so few words. Really well written and engaging.


Story Time
23:27 Jun 13, 2023

Thank you so much, Olivia.


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Mary Bendickson
04:29 Jun 10, 2023

Super creative. Touching. Telling.


Story Time
16:05 Jun 11, 2023

Thank you so much, Mary


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