38 comments

Drama

       By the time I stepped outside the leaves were on fire. It was a good time of year for a funeral. Dad had died Tuesday after a long battle with throat cancer, so I had flown in on the red-eye from California to Rhode Island. 

            I got to TF Green at seven a.m. and went straight to Dad’s house. I guess now it was Beth’s house now. Beth was my younger sister. She moved in a few months ago to help Dad when he got too sick to care for himself. Mom had died several years ago and I moved away after college. She had recently gotten divorced and her kids had all moved out so it made sense for her to move in. I came back as often as I could, but it wasn’t as often as anyone would have liked.

           When I pulled up to the house Kate was sitting on the front steps. She stubbed out her cigarette and stood up. Her smile was the same but that was about it.

           She’d been through a lot since I moved away: financial issues, an ugly divorce, raising two kids alone, not to mention being Dad’s sole caregiver. It had all taken its toll on her. I couldn’t help but feel I abandoned her, them, when I moved away.

           We were close growing up, but as we got older we grew apart and went down different paths. I did everything right. I finished college, traveled the world, and bought a house with my fiance. She, on the other hand, turned to alcohol to cope with her divorce, was single and always bouncing from one job to another.

           “Kate. It’s you,” she said, smiling as I made my way up the gravel driveway. The sound of the gravel under my tennis shoes acted as a conduit, taking me back to happier times

           “It’s me.” I walked up the creaky steps of the porch, past the railing where we used to hang our wet bathing suits. I remembered stumbling up these same creaky steps one night with Beth after drinking too much at homecoming and breaking my toe. Beth had taped my toes together in the kitchen, while we drunkenly shushed each other, careful not to wake mom and dad with our laughter.

           “What do you think? Does it look the same?” She asked holding her arms up.

           “Yes, it even smells the same.” Years had put not only time, but distance between us. If it had been twenty years ago, we would be braiding each other’s hair right now. And I would be telling her how I had kissed the boy from next door under the oaks, how are hands fumbled, not sure what to do. And how we kissed so long our lips were raw. And how awesome it all was.

           After a nap, I got myself cleaned up and went to the kitchen. Our cousin Megan was there now too. Megan’s mom and my mother were best friends so we spent a lot of time with Megan growing up. After I left, Megan sort of took my spot.

           “Hey look who it is. What’s up Hollywood?” Megan said.

           “Hi Megan. It’s nice to see you,” I said, putting my hand on her shoulder as I walked by.                  

           “We were just about to play rummy. Want to play?“ Beth asked. This was the scene every Saturday night of my young life, except it was my aunt and mom playing.

           “Sure. I’ll play.” I said, and Beth scooted over.

           “Megan, remember the time you stole tobacco out of my Dad’s tin and threw up all over the living room?” They both started laughing and continued recalling events about my father that I didn’t remember. Apparently I’d missed out on a lot. This place was foreign to me now, and Beth noticed.

            “So how is California? Have you met any movie stars?” she asked.

           “Nah I’m in southern California, it’s more beach towns.”

           “Isn’t that where LA Is?” Megan asked.

           “No that’s about two hours north,” I said.

           “Oh. Well you got a nice tan anyway. And it’s October, so it must be pretty nice there.” Beth said.

           That was the thing about living in Rhode Island. Six months of the year it was cold and grey. If you didn’t ski, you stayed inside. Everyone here had bad skin, not to mention drug and alcohol problems. I think it was the absence of vitamin D and seasonal affective disorder. When I moved to California I’d never felt happier in my life. How could I be expected to leave that? Not that anyone ever asked me to.

          Megan had seemingly had taken my place in my house, in my family. I wondered what my friends were doing back home, probably out paddle boarding or heading to one of the trendy bars in Hillcrest.   

           I excused myself and went to bed on my twin size mattress. I hadn’t cried since my father died. I yearned for the salty release, but it never came. Maybe it was because none of it felt real. I felt so disconnected here. Maybe it was because he was sick for so long. Maybe it was because Megan had taken my spot and none of them needed me like I thought they did. I just knew I wanted the whole thing to be over and to go back home. Real home.

           The next morning was the funeral. I told Beth I would drive us. I didn’t even cry at the church. We pulled under the canopy of orange trees into the cemetery. We watched from the car as they finished setting up the chairs. I saw Megan, in all black, motioning for us. Then I saw Dad’s casket hovering above the hole in the earth. And that’s when it came. Suddenly it became very real. Dad was gone. My childhood had officially ended. Besides Beth, I no longer had any ties to this place. Suddenly, all I was, was sadness. No other emotion existed within in me. I wanted to curl up in my hollowness and disappear. My whole life I had wanted nothing more than to leave this place. But in this moment I wanted to stay forever, to belong, and for Beth to need me.

           Beth turned and saw me crying.

            “Oh Kate. Oh no, I’m sorry,” she said and put her hand on her arm. The tears streamed down my cheeks without abandon, and now she was crying too.

           “It’s ok. I’m ok. I‘ve just missed you all so much,” I told her.

           “Aww honey, us too. I’m so glad you’re here. I couldn’t have done this without you,” she said and hugged me over the console.

           “Yes you could have,“ I said as I reached into the back seat to grab the box of tissues. My left arm hit the car horn and it blared. As if we were saying ‘Hurry up, let’s get this show on the road.’ Stunned, we both looked at each other, our jaws open. The mourners and pastors all stopped and looked to us. Megan put her arms up as if to say ‘are you nuts?’

           Unsure of what to do now, Beth and I turned to each other. Then she snorted with laughter, spraying a fine mist of tears into the air. I laughed so hard I had to lean forward to keep my stomach from cramping. After we caught our breath we fixed our faces and became solemn again.

           “Oh I missed you, Kate,” she said.

           “I missed you too. Now let’s go say goodbye to Dad.” 

October 12, 2020 13:20

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38 comments

Howard H
07:17 Oct 13, 2020

I really enjoyed your story, it worked well for me. The characters felt well rounded and the emotional journey was finely gauged. The whole situation had a ring of truth; laughing through the tears. The start of a longer piece, perhaps? Certainly a great opening moment. I look forward to your next piece. Well done.

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11:16 Oct 13, 2020

Thank you so much Howard.

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Brody Thomkin
03:36 Oct 25, 2020

I look forward to your stories every week. You capture emotion in a subtle yet powerful way. The feelings of coming back home. Feeling just a little off. Not knowing exactly what to say or do. We’ve all been there and you brought me back. I didn’t submit a story for this contest. I wasn’t feeling the prompts but you taught me there are stories there below the surface and if you don’t give up they will be great reads as this one was. I submitted a story this week just under the wire. I was having a problem again with the prompts so I did ...

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Raquel Rodriguez
14:26 Oct 13, 2020

Hey, Sarah! I loved Kate’s character, and her mother’s character too. You show how ‘being Kate’s father’s sole caretaker’ took its toll on her. I noticed a few mistakes while reading, but I assure you, they’re simple. ‘“So how is California have you met any movie stars?” she asked.’ There should be a comma after ‘so,’ and a question mark after ‘California’ because you’re asking a question. Your sentence should be: ‘“So, how is California? Have you met any movie stars?”’ Also, people aren’t usually formal with their spee...

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A.G. Scott
16:12 Oct 12, 2020

I appreciate the way you tuck away little memories that make the story feel more realized, like the bathing suits on the rail. It helps contextualize the characters and sets the stage for a nice emotional moment at the end. Little editing things: - In the first couple of paragraphs, you alternate between calling it 'here' and 'there' -- decide where she's writing it from, and be consistent. - Sometimes you use commas to connect thoughts that really ought to be separate sentences. One example is the very first sentence. That comma should...

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17:51 Oct 12, 2020

But I love to just throw in commas willy nilly! lol thanks for the help A.g. and I will make those edits. I had a hard time with that first line. It sounds like it belongs at the end of a paragraph not the beginning.

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A.G. Scott
18:05 Oct 12, 2020

Yeah, I don't know. Some of these prompts seem like throwaways. If you're up to it, I'd love it if you could check out one of the two I put out this weekend :) I think you'd for sure enjoy the most recent.

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18:52 Oct 12, 2020

Of course I can’t wait to read them. Be there soon

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If this is sh*t, this is good sh*t. Great story!

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13:19 Dec 16, 2020

What a nice sentiment. I haven’t been on here because I’ve been working on my art but thank you for reading and commenting. Made my day 🥰🥰🙏🏼🙏🏼🎅🎅

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SO SORRY FOR BEING SO LATE PLS COME BACCCCCC ;D

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13:19 Dec 16, 2020

What a nice sentiment. I haven’t been on here because I’ve been working on my art but thank you for reading and commenting. Made my day 🥰🥰🙏🏼🙏🏼🎅🎅

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Np, :D I like your name😁

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13:19 Dec 16, 2020

What a nice sentiment. I haven’t been on here because I’ve been working on my art but thank you for reading and commenting. Made my day 🥰🥰🙏🏼🙏🏼🎅🎅

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Brody Thomkin
16:53 Nov 17, 2020

You must be busy with your business. That has to be the reason you haven't been writing. I have also been going through a dry spell but I just submitted a new one called "Silence" Can you give me a read and feedback. I can still edit it if need be. :-)

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Kristin Neubauer
15:53 Oct 23, 2020

This is such a heartfelt and honest story, Sarah. All of yours are, but this was so straightforward and authentic. The kind of events/tangle of emotions I can imagine playing out for many families. It was simple and clear - yet, I find simple surprisingly difficult to do - and when I read stories like these, I find that it really highlights the talent and skill of the writer - which this one has done superbly.

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A. S.
17:26 Oct 19, 2020

This was a great story! There was only one grammatical error I noticed: And I would be telling her how I had kissed the boy from next door under the oaks, how are hands fumbled, not sure what to do. In this sentence it should be “how our hands fumbled, not sure what to do.” Aside from that it looked great! I loved the characters you created with Kate and Beth. You did a great job inserting memories into the story to give us a better sense of how these women grew up. Would you be willing to read my story “Secrets of the Lost” an...

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Princemark Okibe
17:46 Oct 18, 2020

I like the expression of emotions, from Kate's hidden guilt (abandonment), to not knowing how to react to her father's death and some little other things. I also like the morals, share your pain with your loved ones, a problem shared is half solved. Nice work. My only complain is about the order of this sentence [We were close growing up, but as we got older we grew apart] I will reorder it to be [We were close growing up, but we grew apart as we got older]. Dont have much suggestions for now, I am not yet at Charles Strucker's le...

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00:08 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks Princemark! I really appreciate you reading and for your thoughtful reply. And no one is at Charles’ level of editing ha. He’s the best !

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Jessica C
03:35 Nov 28, 2020

I've been out for a while, and this was a happy surprise. This one needs to be longer; you've barely scratched Kate's surface. Also dropped by to let you know that I peeked at your Etsy shop and MY GOD, are your pieces gorgeous!!! I will be referring my fancy, disposable income friends your way!

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Bianka Nova
22:06 Nov 05, 2020

This was lovely, nice positive ending too. The "past memories" interceptions were very well done, adding texture and depth to the story. A few thigs I've noticed: - When I pulled up to the house Kate was sitting on the front steps. - It should be Beth - how are hands fumbled - how our hands - Megan had seemingly had taken - double "had" - put her hand on her arm - I think maybe you intended it to say "my arm"? P.S. Well done on the Esty shop! You do have wide creative talent. Some personal opinion and advice about your art: I thi...

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Kylie Rudolf
02:11 Oct 20, 2020

Wow, the beginning is great! You really put the d in drama!

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Charles Stucker
10:04 Oct 16, 2020

Beth was my younger sister, she moved- change the comma to a period I came back as often as I could but - comma after could house Kate was sitting on the front steps, - comma after house, period after steps. “Kate. It’s you,” she said smiling - comma after said how are hands fumbled - our hands After a nap I got - comma after nap you,” I said putting - said, Megan had seemingly took my- had taken OR you could drop had and still use took I hadn’t cried yet since my father died.- delete yet it is redundant with since And suddenly i...

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Princemark Okibe
17:40 Oct 18, 2020

The god of criticism and edits, all praise be to thee. You never disappoint. Always ready with your detailed suggestions and explanations. I think you are one of reedsy's greatest contributors. Just decided to let you know I see what you have been doing. Continue in this might. 👍🏿

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K. Antonio
00:51 Oct 16, 2020

I honestly don't get how you can pack so much emotion and detail in into a short story. I always seem to get so close to 3k words just to produce a dramatic story, and you produce one with such a meaningful and effortless feel. Really enjoyed the characters and how the story ended. Are you going to include a title or is the story's title "no title"? Only question I had. Great work! Hope you can check out my contribution for this prompt!

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The Cold Ice
05:55 Oct 28, 2020

This is a nice story.I like the ending.Keep writing.Great job keep it up.

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B. W.
22:20 Oct 25, 2020

Hiya there! ^^ I think that you did a really great job with this and that this was also a pretty great story. I guess if ya want some advice, i'd go with what some of the others have to say, I'm not that good at giving advice. I hope you continue to make more stories though and I'll give this a 10/10 :)

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21:22 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you BW!

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B. W.
21:25 Oct 26, 2020

No prob, could you maybe check out some of my stories and then leave some feedback?

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21:46 Oct 26, 2020

Of course be there soon

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B. W.
21:49 Oct 26, 2020

alright thanks ^^

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Prathamesh Chavan
16:22 Nov 11, 2020

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