Written during the Corona Virus Pandemic with the hope of bringing a smile to someone’s face – or at least provide a short distraction during these challenging times. Stories are created based on one-word prompts that were submitted by friends. Each friend is assigned a character name and I develop a short fictitious story that integrates and upholds the word.
Lizzie Summers: Sad
Lizzie could hear a crow professing its early morning sermon. The bellowing of the “caw, caw, caw,” mixed with the blustery wind and air so raw that it turned her cheeks bright red, sent a shiver down Lizzie’s spine. Lizzie quickened her pace as though moving faster would make the wind any less blustery and make the air feel any less raw. But it didn’t, which only added to Lizzie’s exasperation.
“Enough already,” Lizzie muttered under her breath. Already feeling sad, the temperamental weather made her feel even worse – like she was in a jousting match and clearly not winning.
With each nudge, Lizzie could feel herself unraveling. But she wasn’t about to let the tears flow. Not here, not now.
“Be strong, Lizzie. You are tough as nails, Lizzie. Don’t cry, Lizzie.” Like the caw of the crow she heard only moments ago, her Aunt Edna’s words kept echoing in her head.
Looking up at the sky as raindrops started to pelt against Lizzie’s skin, Lizzie noticed the crow perched on the barely budding tree branch. “Go figure. Look at you sitting there all ominous with your morning wit and vocal repertoire. What’s that you say? That this too, shall pass.”
Lizzie couldn’t help herself. She hated this feeling. So, Lizzie combated it with cynicism, humor, and whatever respites would help wrestle with her emotions. But no matter how hard she tried, Lizzie couldn’t escape the feeling that was filling up her well and invading her heart. A sadness so deep it could only be caused by loss.
“Damn you, Aunt Edna. Damn you. Why did you have to go?” Lizzie screamed – thankful that no one other than the crow sitting atop his tree branch could hear her. When he cawed after her exclamation, Lizzie couldn’t help but laugh. Leave it to Aunt Edna, she thought, knowing it was a sign. A big, bold, in your face sign.
Aunt Edna was a tough old broad whose thick German accent never seemed to go away except for when she cursed, especially at Uncle Joe and whenever she and Nannette O’Toole – her sister from another mother – used to whoop it up on girl’s night. She also made the best Schnitzel in town and never went to bed before pouring a glass of brandy and clinking glasses with Uncle Joe.
She said she usually sipped it slowly so that she could savor its flavor and the moment – because you never know when the moments might end. Tough as nails, Aunt Edna made no bones about passing her values down to anyone who would listen. Aunt Edna was always the one who could make you laugh because she loved to do so. She said it’s what carried her through all the rough patches in life – and that when all else failed, laughter saved the day.
Maybe that was her secret, Lizzie thought.
As Lizzie pressed on against the weather and fondly remembered Aunt Edna, she could feel her sadness meter begin to lift slightly. Lizzie only saw Aunt Edna cry once when Uncle Joe passed away, and she’s not sure Aunt Edna ever knew she was there. But she watched as Aunt Edna poured two glasses of brandy, and placed one by his picture. “To you, my pain in the ass. And to the moments we shared. You were always the light in my darkness.” And then she clinked the glass, said ‘ich Liebe Dich’ in her thick accent, chugged her glass of brandy, and took another swig from the bottle.
Lizzie smiled and laughed as she reflected on that moment and the vision of Aunt Edna chugging brandy.
Her memory interrupted by the crow cawing again, and the sun peeking out from behind the stormy clouds.
“You were always my sunshine after the clouds, weren’t you?” Lizzie said as she placed the flowers and bottle of brandy on Aunt Edna’s grave and smiled. Sad for her loss but comforted by the years of love and laughter.