Another Form of Water

Submitted into Contest #112 in response to: End your story with a character standing in the rain.... view prompt

42 comments

LGBTQ+ Christian Holiday

The weather forecast called for snow flurries, unusual for this time of year. Yes, she had bundled up the kids for Halloween in all types of inclement weather when they were young—but never for snow. It never snowed this early in the season. No matter, she thought. The ground was parched and dry. Any precipitation would be welcomed.

The cold winds had been strong and biting all day. Dead yellow leaves swirled in little vortexes, soon to be accompanied by carelessly discarded candy wrappers. Halloween kicked off the holiday season, culminating in her favorite holiday—Christmas. 

For now, out of habit more than anything else, she silently hung the few remaining black and orange decorations on her front door to attract the fewer and fewer trick-or-treaters. Their neighborhood full of winding cul-de-sacs no longer brimmed with young children, their parents pulling wagons full of princesses and pushing strollers full of superheroes. Only the lone family now and again would come to her door, faces unfamiliar as the years slipped by.

Even their own home looked old and tired, in desperate need of a paint job, darkened most nights except for the flickering light of the television screen her husband endlessly watched, clicking through channel after channel, finding nothing to keep his interest for very long. She understood him, as she often sat alone in the kitchen with an open trashy bestseller or gossipy magazine, more often than not gazing out into the barren backyard where her children used to play when they were young.

Nowadays, the community’s sidewalks were emptied of bikes and skateboards and chalked hopscotch boards. She missed hearing the sounds of children’s squabbling and chasing each other, kicking balls and skipping rope. All that remained on her block were what her husband called the newlywed and nearly dead. He would laugh at his own wit, and she would cringe. 

She had warned him against making corny puns from the pulpit, but he didn’t listen, surprised when his congregants finally asked him to resign. They wanted to go in a different direction, find a pastor who could magically conjure up the Holy Spirit for all to feel. His church finally tired of an aging pastor who told stale jokes while making uncomfortable remarks instead of solely preaching the Word, especially one who couldn’t keep his own house in order. 

She sighed. She missed when things were simpler, when she could bake treats for her children’s friends after school. She missed when it had been easy to make her own children happy. 

As she had done for almost twenty-five years, she sat down in the living room with stacks of full-sized Hershey milk chocolate candy bars, scotch tape, orange ribbon, and strips of paper with printed Bible verses. She carefully taped a Bible verse down the spine of the chocolate bar, skillfully covering up the calorie count. She then flipped the chocolate bar over to tie a festive orange ribbon around the midsection. 

She felt the scriptures were a comfort to those children fearful of Halloween. She liked to see the children dressed up, but disliked them dressed as ghouls and ghosts and goblins. She despised the monster and devil costumes, not permitting her own children to wear them. There was enough evil in the world without bringing more into it. 

She read one Bible verse aloud, her voice echoing a bit in the empty room. “2nd Timothy 1:7 — For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

There was a quiet knock at the door. She closed her eyes, knowing who it would be, affixing a smile to her face as she arose to open the door.

“Nicole,” she warmly said, “I am so glad you came by to help!”

A slight, masculine figure entered, giving her a warm hug. “Mom, you know what I said about using my dead name.”

She looked at her feet. “I’m so sorry. I know that offends you.”

“Please just try, mom.”

“All right. Cole. I will try harder.” 

“Am I too late for wrapping candy bars?” Cole said, taking off Cole’s jacket. “It’s getting cold out. Is it really supposed to snow?”

“That’s what they say,” she reported matter-of-factly. “But I’m not sure of anything these days.”

Cole sat down, artfully affixing a Bible verse and using a pair of scissors to curl the ends of the ribbon.

“You are really good at this,” she said. “That looks pretty.”

“Or pretty handsome,” Cole replied with a grin. 

Cole’s mother blushed. “Oh, I didn’t mean—”

“I’m just kidding, mom.”

“Oh, I know.” She attempted a passing chuckle.

“Any new verses this year?”

Cole’s mother held one up. “Psalms 27:1 — The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

“That’s a good one,” Cole remarked. “I remember that one from youth group.”

Cole’s mother nodded. 

“So, you are still giving out Hershey bars? Why not mix it up a little, mom? Try something different. I remember you liked Hershey's Whatchamacallit. You should try their new one—the Whozeewhatzit Bar.”

“I don’t want to try anything new. I like Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bars. I’ve always bought them. It’s tradition.” 

“Traditions are meant to be broken, mom. Live a little,” Cole replied, grinning. “How about Mounds or Almond Joys? You can have your treat with or without nuts.” Cole laughed, good naturedly. 

She felt angry at Cole’s joke, unsure why such a rage threatened to roil over. She stood up and went into the kitchen, poured herself a glass of water, left it untouched on the counter.

“You know your father will be home shortly,” she called out, blinking back tears. “You might want to head out before he returns.”

“All right, mom,” Cole said. “I understand. I’ll call you next week, all right?”

She nodded, walking her youngest child out the front door. Cole gave her a thin smile and a slight wave before opening the driver’s door. Cole’s mother watched as the car drove away.

At that moment, the grey skies decided on a cold misty rain—instead of expected flurries. No matter, she thought. Both were forms of much needed water.  


September 18, 2021 21:04

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42 comments

Mister X
00:38 Sep 20, 2021

I thought the way she interacted with her daughter showed her pain. It was nice that even through her struggle she was able to love Nicole. It wasn’t her dream but she is doing her best.

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Bruce Friedman
21:47 Sep 18, 2021

Whoa, Deidra. Plowing some new ground here. Congratulations. Up to your usual very high standard, though, especially with some humor thrown in: "You can have your treat with or without nuts.” Cole laughed, good naturedly."

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Deidra Lovegren
23:13 Sep 18, 2021

Thanks Bruce! I love Cole and his patience with his mother. It's a Brave New World and the generational gap is -- as always -- a challenge. I agree with you, though, that humor really is the Balm of Gilead. It's transcends a lot of differences and unites, as long we laugh together and not at one another.

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Bruce Friedman
02:15 Sep 19, 2021

You are always way ahead of me on biblical references. I had to Google Balm of Gilead. Right now, transgender issues are deemed appropriately very serious. At some point in the future, we may come to appreciate these issues on a broader scale.

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Nora K.
18:20 Oct 11, 2021

Hey, Deidra. This is spot-on. Classic coming-of-age story, and the mother-son bond set up throughout is understandable and cordial, and it's still somehow seamlessly bittersweet at the same time (Letting the kids grow up is hard). This is great, easily conveyed and painfully accurate. Thanks for sharing.

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Deidra Lovegren
20:23 Oct 11, 2021

The generational gap will be keeping therapists in business for a long, long time.

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Nora K.
21:54 Oct 11, 2021

Right. Guaranteed therapeutic immortality.

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Daniel Hayes
16:10 Oct 03, 2021

Wow, Deidra, this was really good! I love how you can write and show emotions in your stories. I think it allows the reader to have a strong emotional connection and that's what they want ;) Great job as always!

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Deidra Lovegren
20:37 Oct 05, 2021

Daniel Hayes! Quit wasting time reading my drivel and go write some Netflix series. I need some decent entertainment, and it's high time you start your own production company :)

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Daniel Hayes
21:25 Oct 05, 2021

LMAO, that is so funny! I'll get right on that ;)

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Dean Hodsfry
11:47 Oct 01, 2021

Great Story Deidra, nice touch on the gender-neutral topic and coupled with great humour. I especially loved the line You can have your treat with or without nuts.

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Deidra Lovegren
13:33 Oct 01, 2021

Cole will be just fine. His parents just need to come around.

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Mae Stroshane
00:22 Sep 30, 2021

Beautiful and poignant as the mom yearns for her children's lost innocence of Halloween and tries to cope with the reality of "Cole." The different meanings of water, the metaphors of fading leaves and fading wit - as a PK, I can relate to congregations growing tired of ministers' stale jokes! Needless to say, I loved this!

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Deidra Lovegren
15:10 Sep 30, 2021

What a wonderful heartful comment! Thanks for pointing out things I didn't know I did...? (haha) I appreciate the connection with the text. So often we write into the void and wonder if our contribution to understanding the human condition is accurate in any way :)

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Stevie B
00:06 Sep 29, 2021

Deidra, a very well thought out plot. You are indeed a writer that well warrants watching and reading.

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Deidra Lovegren
14:21 Sep 29, 2021

Thanks for the lovely (and alliterative!) comment. I appreciate the read :) So...any chance you'd like to discuss your writer's journey on a laidback little podcast? This is what happens when a Floridian and an Australian decide they like talking to up-and-coming writers (and have far too much time on their hands. haha) https://www.readlotswritelots.com/wp/ Drop me an email if you fancy a chat @ lovegren.deidra@gmail.com

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Stevie B
14:54 Sep 29, 2021

Will do.

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Stevie B
15:25 Sep 29, 2021

Deidra, sent the email as per your request (forgot to include a subject line due to work distractions, but it was sent from our business account: info@miamindmusic.com).

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Lucia G A
03:03 Sep 27, 2021

Does the full story exist? Because I really would like to read this.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:06 Sep 30, 2021

I haven't written a longer work. I think Cole will be fine; the mother needs to recalibrate to her new normal. Still, a palpable loss for her. She can have time to grieve, but needs to accept the reality of the situation. A struggle, indeed.

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Lucia G A
02:25 Oct 01, 2021

definitely. It's hard to adjust to something like that. You really have a talent for writing, and you hope you continue!

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Shea West
04:45 Sep 26, 2021

I live for a good pun! This story conveyed so much by saying little about details of this family. It's all subtly implied but woven in with the very obvious. The don't dead name me mom. And the having your candy bar with or without nuts. It made me want to know more. Does dad accept Cole? Or is mom the only one?

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Keya Jadav
14:39 Sep 24, 2021

Another amazing story of Deidra, beautiful. I liked the casual conversation between son and mother yet unknowingly heated with emotions. Fantastic, how you carved the emotions of the protagonist. Btw, I checked out your podcast...and girl, it is amazin'! I love your voice (inserted grins).

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Tony Mills
22:03 Sep 21, 2021

Great descriptions, and not overdone.

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Deidra Lovegren
11:27 Sep 22, 2021

"Omit needless words" <-- best writing advice in the world. Thanks, Strunk & White and "The Elements of Style" :)

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17:15 Sep 21, 2021

Hey, Deidra! It's been a hot minute since I've read one of your stories. A lovely read as always. The description in the first half was really beautiful, the transition from autumn to winter was both well written as well as insightful. One piece of feedback from me would be, "Cole said, taking off Cole’s jacket." changing Cole's jacket to something like "his jacket" to make it less confusing. Up to you whether you want to change it or not (if you can still edit the submission). The ending as well, I must mention, was really good. It summed...

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Deidra Lovegren
17:38 Sep 21, 2021

What's up, Jasey! Thanks for the insightful commentary. I was using the "awkwardly not using pronouns" construct to show how conflicted the mother is. She cannot process Cole as a he/him; thus Cole is taking off Cole's jacket. If you noticed, I didn't use any pronouns because that is a bridge too far for our mother. She may or may not come around. As for the AMAZING Beth Connor -- she is a complete inspiration to me! She is so talented and smart and kind -- oooo -- I'm just a huge fan. If you decide you'd like to talk about books and writi...

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00:17 Sep 22, 2021

Ah, that makes sense. I see what you mean now. Ahaha yes I agree Beth is extremely talented, so are you! ✨ I’ll let you know if I decide to, thanks so much for the offer! :)

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22:43 Sep 19, 2021

NOT THE GOOD CHRISTIAN MOTHERS- NOOOOO-

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Deidra Lovegren
11:28 Sep 22, 2021

:)

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K. Antonio
12:16 Sep 19, 2021

Oooohhh this is my kind of read. I enjoyed the moral and the sentiments, the dynamics between mother and son, how their at the same time close and distant. I also enjoyed the prose, the beginning and the ending lines were beautiful. There was even a moment, after Cole arrived, that I noticed the story was in third person; throughout the entire piece as I was reading I felt imersed and thought the story was actually in first person. I think it has a lot to do with how the beginning focuses so much on memory and describing the environmen...

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Deidra Lovegren
23:08 Sep 19, 2021

Huge fan of yours, K. Antonio. Your commentary is insightful as it is welcomed. Thanks for the read. AND...if you are bored one Saturday night, we'd love to have you on the podcast. It's always fun to talk about books and the writer's journey. (A solitary path, that one.) Let me know? https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/read-lots-write-lots/id1580711529 https://open.spotify.com/show/6LUgAAX9dAmbQuJ8WHKhBr

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K. Antonio
00:41 Sep 20, 2021

What?? I didn't even know about this podcast. 😲😲 That sounds like a hell of a time! I'd love to!!!

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Deidra Lovegren
00:45 Sep 20, 2021

Lovegren.deidra@gmail.com Your fans await!

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Deidra Lovegren
19:10 Sep 25, 2021

No pressure . . . my South American high school students would love to hear from an author from their home country. OMG. I'm doing the mom-guilt thing. (Force of habit.) We have new authors from the UK, Nigeria, South Africa, and all over the USA. I'd love to add a Hispanic/Latino perspective. If you know anyone who may be interested, we'd love to include his or her voice!

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K. Antonio
20:05 Sep 26, 2021

Deidra I'm going to send you an e-mail tonight. This week was mad crazy and my schedule was wild. I didn't responde just due to my lack of time during this week. I'm so sorry, but I will remedy this immediately.

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Shea West
04:38 Sep 26, 2021

K.!! Deidra, Russell, and I were singing your talented praises today! Go do the podcast, it's such fun. Your work needs to be shared far and wide my friend.

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K. Antonio
20:17 Sep 26, 2021

I'm listening to the episode you're on right now! What a great entrance tune! Your dogs name is Freddy Mercury?! What? That's adorable xD

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Shea West
20:58 Sep 26, 2021

Yes that's really her name. We are big Queen fans in this house, and we couldn't think of a better name for her. I look forward to hearing you on the podcast- Your fans are waiting!!!!! (ME, it's me I'm your fans!)

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Kathleen March
23:49 Oct 11, 2021

Well-crafted, and that is an understatement.

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Mae Stroshane
00:14 Sep 30, 2021

So beautiful and full of piercing emotion - the mom yearning for the lost innocence of innocence of her children's Halloween, and struggling to come to grips with her new son "Cole." The dying leaves of autumn and her husband's fading wit are vivid metaphors for loss as well. As a PK, I can relate to congregations getting tired of the same old stuff from the pulpit! Her glass of water, the misty rain, are needed for her parched soul. Needless to say, I loved this!

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Shoshana A
04:57 Sep 28, 2021

Beautiful story. I like the way you have managed to make mother's palpable emotions grow organically along the story. strong character.

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