Contemporary Drama Funny

When Tom heard her drop Grandma’s tea set, he laid into Linda: “You know what, just because Grandma liked me more doesn’t mean you have to resort to something like this.” 

Linda stood in front of the sea of small white pieces spread like stars on the dark brown kitchen floor. She slapped her yellow rubber gloves down and turned to Tom. 

“You know what, maybe you do the dishes sometimes so then you can take better care than I can. I’m upset about it too, OK? Things break.” She combed both hands through her chestnut hair streaked with a thin white strand.

“Everything’s broken, Lin.” Tom grabbed the broom leaned behind the oven, wincing with a hand rubbing his mid back. “Grandma took care of us both and wanted us to succeed. Now look, we’re both middle aged losers that never got anywhere.” 

Linda slammed the dishwasher door shut. “Like Grandma was successful herself. I wouldn’t call living on public assistance and watching Jeopardy every day high achieving. Plus she just hid in her room most the time doing God knows what while we ate Spaghetti-O’s out of a can, I wouldn’t call that ‘raising’.”

“That’s because she spent all of her time tending to us and it exhausted her! At least she stuck it out unlike our parents. And don’t speak ill of the dead, Lin, especially her!” Tom swept up the remainder of the porcelain, dumping it with a frown.

“I’m moving out of this town, Tom. 30 years is too long to be in one place, doesn’t matter if it’s a good place to live or not. Who knows if I have another 30 years in me.” Linda reached for the whiskey on top of the fridge with lotto tickets stuck behind a Donald Duck magnet, pouring two glasses.

Tom replaced the broom with one hand and grabbed the glass with the other. “Where would you even move to?” He sat at the table which took up half the space in the room.

“California has oranges growing everywhere, plus I don’t mind sleeping outside. I camp all the time and have the gear. I don’t need much to be happy.”

Tom laughed. “Then how are you so miserable all the time still? Plus don’t you get a produce discount working at the grocery store?”

“Because I’m not living the life I want to live in the middle of a damn Illinois cornfield working at the damn grocery store! I want a kid. I want a new life. I don’t have much time left.” 

“First of all, you’re 30, not 75. If you really want to, move to California and find a homeless bum to marry and have a slobbering brat with!” Tom raised his voice and took a drink, the bitter sting of whiskey threading down his throat. “Sometimes I think what’s holding me back is your constant negativity and neglect of my feelings. The broken tea set confirms it for me. No wonder no man wants to be around you.”

Linda grabbed Tom’s shirt on both sides “Life doesn’t care about your feelings, Tom. And you know what? I don’t either.” Linda released her hands from Tom’s collar stormed off to the living room, sitting on the couch with a huff. 

“Ok, I will. You know what, I’m sorry for the insults. She wouldn’t want us to fight like this over something so dumb.”

“And you’re telling me I’m the negative one. Attacked over a dumb tea set…”

Tom took a deep breath and walked into the living room, standing at the doorjamb. “We never even looked through her trunk yet.”


Linda unlatched the chest with a light, forgettable floral pattern that sat in front of the couch. “I think it’s funny how she called us “The Twins” given we aren’t twins.” She commented. She lifted the lid and above all Grandma’s nightgowns and nicknacks sat the letter, addressed as “The Twins”. 

“Well, we’re Irish twins, at least that’s what I think. If only our druggie parents kept our birth certificates.” Tom took the envelope, eyes big.

 He didn’t think Grandma had a made a will, but maybe this was it. He stuck his finger in the small gap at the top of the envelope and ripped it open. His eyes sped down the letter.

“She’s given us co-ownership of the house.” Tom looked up with a blank stare.

“Well congratulations!” Linda raised her glass and drank. “How much do you want for my half? How about $50K? Probably a good deal, even for this shit shack.” 

Tom continued to read over the piece of paper, his face fixed in a puzzled expression.

“Tom, let’s sell this place and win at life. We could start again in California again. We could eat oranges to save money, and we’d have all the money to pay off our debts and be writers. Don’t you think Grandma would rather see us succeed at our dreams than keep an old farmhouse and work in a no name town?”

“We can write anywhere, Lin. That’s the thing about writing. You can do it in a so called ‘shit shack’ in a cornfield or tent. If you want to camp outside and be homeless, go ahead.” 

“Yeah but there’s more to life than art. We could each start living our lives, maybe use our money to get our own places and start families or do anything we wanted. A change of scenery does wonders, you don’t even know. This money means everything.” Linda put her arm on Tom’s shoulder in a rare expression of sympathy. Tom continued to look down at the piece of paper.

 “Alright I’m going to bed, Tom. Let’s sleep on the decision. We’re both worked up. She died a month ago, we’re still grieving and having to sort out all this legal bullshit.” Linda got up from the couch. “Good night. By the way, you’re doing the dishes next, don’t forget. You should get some sleep.” She turned off the living room lights.

“Good night,” Tom said, eyes still locked, unfocused, on the sheet of paper. The fireplace provided the only heat and light in the living room.


“To The Twins,

If you’re reading this, I’m dead. The cigarettes got me and the booze will get the two of you if you don’t stop drinking! 

Now getting down to the truth: you’re not siblings. You’re step siblings. I wanted my foster kids to get along and treat each other like family and I thought keeping up this fib would be the best way of doing it. 

To be honest, I was always creeped out you continued to live together in a dingy apartment down the street as 30-something adults and thought you maybe figured it out with a DNA test, but I don’t tell anyone how to live their lives. As long as you weren’t canoodling each other. But I guess even if you were, I guess it’s ok since you’re not blood related. Plus it gave me a lot of writing material.

Next, you probably noticed there was no will. I blew all the money gambling and had to mortgage the house. The bank is foreclosing so you won’t get a dime of it. Give up writing, don’t become like me. Or at least, don’t gamble. And stop drinking, for God’s sake!

I’ve hidden something in the false bottom of the trunk, don’t tell the bank. Tommybuns, I know you probably read this first— make sure to burn the letter when you’re done. No offense, Linny-Bunny, he was always the reader among you both. 

I love you both and I better not see you soon.



Tom burned the letter in the fireplace. He took the piles of clothes and jewelry and all sorts of gewgaws, placing them down around the trunk at a quickening pace, his heart racing to get to the bottom of the chest. He pushed down on the back of the bottom board, and it popped up. 

All that he saw were papers, written on a typewriter. Story after story. Tom had no idea Grandma wrote anything. He tried to read some of it, but he was too drunk and too tired. What good was writing, anyway. He found their true birth certificates and threw them in the fire and the black ashes charged up the chimney, tears filling his eyes. He continued to shovel the rest of the papers into the fire, amongst them Grandma’s life insurance policy, good for one million dollars. It merged now with the black sky above, sharing carbon with the stars.

January 15, 2022 04:42

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Stevie B
13:08 Jan 20, 2022

Dale, thank you for the enjoyable read!


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Unknown User
22:57 Jan 20, 2022

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