May 11: Memories

This story also came from a prompt generator. This idea was just a “60 year old photograph”. I like how this ended up going. If I do anything more with it, I will expand the grandmother’s role quite a bit and her relationships with her daughter and granddaughter and the whole ‘what actually happened’ part!

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Memories

My hand dropped and with it the photograph I had been holding fluttered to the floor. It landed face up and I could not stop myself from looking down at it.

Peering back up was a picture of happier times. Happier for someone anyway. It was a wedding photo. It was in black and white with a thick white scalloped border around the edges of its square shape. It was slightly bent, curled, but the image was completely clear.

A man and a woman stood on the broad steps of what was either a church or a courthouse. The woman wore what was obviously a wedding gown, white and lacy, with a broad hat. The man wore a neat dark suit that looked just slightly awkward on him.

There were a handful of people around them, men in suits and women in fancy dresses. Everyone in the picture was smiling, except the bride.

These were my parents and this wedding was sixty years ago. I had never seen any of their wedding photos before which seemed odd now, but I had never thought to ask and my mother had never offered. That was just the way she has always been, living in the present and largely indifferent to the past.

So what was I doing now with this photo?

My grandmother, my mother’s mother, died last week and it has fallen to me to sort through ‘her things’. There are a lot of things. This photo is only the most recent of the ‘interesting things’ I have found.

I never considered my grandmother to be a sentimental person and yet here we are. Boxes of photographs and old movie tickets. Carefully pressed flowers and neatly tied packets of letters. It’s ridiculously stereotypical, like something she took from a book or a film.

On the one hand, it is all neat and tidy, which is exactly how I always thought of her. But the content, that she kept these items, like memories neatly boxed up and put away, is something I am struggling with. Why? Why did she do this? It is both the totality of the collection and the specific items that are bothering me. Like this photo.

My parents. I look at it again and I am wondering about my mother, about her dour expression. Perhaps it was just a moment, a bad shot taken when she wasn’t prepared.

I want to believe that. I don’t want to think that she knew what the years would bring, that she had a premonition on what should have been the happiest of days for her. I can barely look at my father knowing what will come as time moves on.

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May 10: The Ride There

Another story resulting from a random prompt generator (two people who dislike each other in the back of a cab). This one suffers, I think, from lack of content in the actual story. I think it would make a decent length short story if I added more depth to it, more ambiguous phrasing, drew it all out with some descriptive passages (the cab, the scenery they’re passing) and ‘bigger picture’ type musings.

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The Ride There

“I don’t know why we had to take a cab together.” Melissa sighs heavily as she speaks and looks at James with loathing.

“Ah, Mel dear, it’s not really so bad, is it?”

The frustration, Mel realizes, is that James truly does not appreciate the depths of her dislike for him. While he doesn’t like her, it is not quite the same thing.

“Anyway,” he continues oblivious. “This gives us the opportunity to plan our strategy before we get there. I think it makes complete sense.”

It does, of course. Sort of. That’s one of the things that Mel really hates about James. He usually, sometimes, occasionally, does have good ideas.

“All right then,” she begins. “What kind of strategy were you thinking of? Because I see this as pretty straightforward myself.”

“I beg to differ.”

Of course he did.

“I think we should take this in a new way. Instead of going in there and doing the same old same old, we pitch them a complete u-turn.”

“What kind of u-turn?”

“Take them somewhere new! Show them a brave new world.”

“Oh James. I don’t think so. I don’t think they want to go anywhere new.”

“They’re stuck in a rut!”

Once off on a course like that, James could go on for quite some time. Mel sat back, resigned to it.

James blathered on, high on enthusiasm but, as always, short on actual details.

The cab crept slowly through the heavy traffic.

Mel looked down at her watch. Too long, just far too long. Especially when this was only the beginning part.

James was saying, “So I think we should tackle them separately.”

“That’s a terrible idea,” she finally replied. “You know that never works, not in the long run. It’s utterly pointless and just gets everyone all aggravated.”

“Not really.”

“Yes. It does. You just act all oblivious to things and pretend that it doesn’t. I’m not going along with it this time.”

“Do you have any better kind of idea, then?”

“Yes. I do.”

“Well…?”

“This time I think we just talk to Mom and Dad like the adults they are and the adults we are, too. No strategy necessary.”

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