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Drama Friendship Sad

Elise hated that she could only see part of their lives.  Hated that John and Hannah had happy times in other parts of the house, laughing and talking without her. She wanted them all to herself.  

She’d seen the other rooms once before, only briefly. It was the day Hannah brought her home, carrying her through the back door, past a small kitchen and dining room, finally placing her on a table next to well-worn chair.

She knew the other rooms could not compare to the living room. How could they? This was their special place, their favorite. The thought comforted her on the days when she missed Hannah and John. 

On cold nights, the three of them spent hours together here, Hannah and John reading into the night. Winter was when Elise felt closest to them, giving her light to John as he worked his way through too-easy crossword puzzles and articles in The Atlantic.

The summer days were different. Hannah and John rarely needed her then, spending as much time as they could outside. Elise could see them through the window, playing with the dog or planting flowers in the garden. How nice it would be to join them! Elise tried not to be wistful or envious of their freedom. She knew those warm days were Hannah’s favorite, and she couldn’t begrudge her that happiness. Hannah had always taken the best care of Elise.

Those moments made it hard to picture a time when life would be anything other than just so. With the three of them simply enjoying each other.

When fall arrived, it surprised Elise when Hannah started spending more time in the living room than she usually did. Day after day she lay quietly on the couch, small under a haphazard mound of blankets. This unexpected time together felt tentative to Elise, like suddenly Hannah would change her mind and return to her usual time spent elsewhere in the house. So, Elise did what she could to keep Hannah there, anxiously stretching her light to cover Hannah’s unmoving form.

John often joined Elise in quietly observing his wife. As fall turned to winter again, the weather turned gray, and so did Hannah. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you, my love,” John said one evening, as he stroked her curly hair away from her forehead. It was an intimate moment, and Elise wished she could turn away. Thankfully, John turned off her light as he covered Hannah with another blanket and left the room. 

The day the ambulance arrived at the house, two men came into the living room quickly but clumsily, knocking into Elise’s table and tipping her on her side. Forgotten in the chaos, she tried desperately to reach Hannah from her new position, but she could only cast only odd-angled shadows that barely reached the low couch. Elise was eventually set to rights, but things were never the same. 

In the months following Hannah’s death, John spent hours in the dark, sitting in his old chair by the window. He was always next to Elise, but he wasn’t really there; he never reached for her, never picked up his crosswords or magazines. She often wondered why he even came into this room at all. Maybe he felt close to Hannah here, but the light was too much to bear. John knew that Elise had been Hannah’s most loyal companion. 

John left her dusty and dark as the seasons passed, but Elise was only a little mad. To John, she was an artifact from a different life.  And though she could understand John’s neglect, she was lonely--no longer jealous of the other rooms but wishing she there instead of here. Were they similarly morose? Or, was it the very specialness of the living room that made life here so melancholy?

Life eventually returned to John, and Elise felt the promise of her existence once again. For the first time since Hannah left, John noticed Elise. She stood straight as he carefully scrubbed her clean, like Hannah used to do, using her favorite lemon-scented soap. Elise knew they were both thinking of Hannah at that moment, as the smell of the soap filled the room.

Things felt almost special again. John read a book next to Elise, letting her share herself with him. He played with the dog in the yard outside her window. He didn’t tend to the garden, but he no longer spent nights in the dark.

Still, things weren’t quite right. Elise knew the light had not fully returned.

This thought settled into Elise’s body as she warily considered the strangers that John had invited into the house that summer. He walked them from room to room, proudly pointing out his favorite parts of his favorite rooms. To Elise, the invasion felt foreign as the strangers peered into the living room like unwanted interlopers. This was her special place. She desperately tried to turn away from them but was stuck as always in her perch by the window.

Elise’s life with John ended not long after.

The strangers would be moving in soon, John said aloud to the house, so all of the rooms could hear him. This was something he did occasionally. To Elise, he sounded guilty as talked about his need to move on, to have fresh start. He tried to convince them that this was what Hannah would want.

A few days later, John carried her gently, as Hannah once had, through the kitchen and out the back door. He carefully placed her with other less-important household items in a cardboard box in his car. As they drove away, she tried to look back at the house for the last time. She was a selfish, selfish being, she thought to herself. She didn’t care that John was happy again and Hannah would be glad. She didn’t have hope that she’d end up somewhere else special.

She stared out the car window as houses and trees flew past. Next time, she thought, she wouldn’t give her light so easily. All she could offer now was dimmer. 

March 29, 2024 18:39

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2 comments

Paul Simpkin
07:40 Apr 04, 2024

A beautiful story. I like the idea and you develop it so well. The tone and the atmosphere are perfect.

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Shawna Burge
21:30 Apr 03, 2024

That is stunning. So well done. So well done

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