–A special series of distraction stories

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.


Laura Mikolaitis
Laura Mikolaitis
Laura credits her writing, which laid dormant for years, to her late mom, who always believed in her. Writing unabashedly from the heart and inspired by millions of moments, three tenets of evergreen advice that her mom always shared with her are her guiding principles. Whether it is poetry, fiction, or a personal essay, her love for the written word feeds her mind, body, and spirit. Laura’s creativity also comes to life in her passion for photography. Her ongoing love affair with the moon, her joy for family and friends, her connection to nature, and being a loving canine mom often become some of her best subjects. Laura has held many roles throughout her professional career, including Brand Manager, Project Manager, and Director of Global Business Development and Sales Operations. In addition, she has a background in consumer-packaged goods, manufacturing, and textiles. Laura currently works in biotechnology for Berkshire Corporation as their Product Marketing Manager. She holds a Master of Science degree in Communications and Information Management from Bay Path University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from SUNY Oswego. Originally from Northern NY, Laura resides with her husband and canine child in a small town in Massachusetts that captured her heart years ago.

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  1. My Aunt Edna was “Aunt Cele.” Decades ago, “a tough old broad” working in a man’s world. None would mess with her. But me? I was her “schönes kind” – lovely child.

    As is the Jewish custom when visiting the departed, I am placing a (virtual) rock on her headstone this morning.

    Thank you, Laura. Beautiful writing.

    • Thanks so much, Jeff! My Aunt Edna was Aunt Phinnie (Josephine), and no one messed with her. She was like a second mom to me, and she too was a “tough old broad.” She was Italian and her eyes were as black as could be. And she wore the same hairstyle her whole life. But no one said anything because she wore it so well, and always carried herself with grace. But her heart was so kind and loving and fun. My heart broke into such tiny pieces the day she passed away, but I know that she and my mom are together and that both are watching over me.

      I appreciate your support, Jeff.

    • Darlene, thank you for being here, and for engaging with my stories. When I first thought about writing these stories, I figured there would be only one character. But I was given such meaningful words that, in some cases, the stories evolved with more. I find dialogue to be an excellent way to weave a tale – even of it a sole character alone with their thoughts, maybe because I talk to myself so much!

      Life is fleeting for sure. That’s why we should embrace each chance we get to live it out.

    • Oh, I’m so happy that you liked it Sarah and that it resonated with you on some level. As a storyteller that I admire, it means so much to me. I know that when I write these stories, aspects of things I’ve been through seep into the tale. But I hope that someone can relate to one or more of the characters, what they are experiencing, and perhaps find a connection there. Or, at the very least, escape from life for a few brief moments.

      I love you too, my friend, and I feel blessed to have you in my life.

    • We sure do, Jane! My aunts hold a special place in my heart, and I am so grateful for them. One of my dear aunts, passed away almost two years ago. I miss her deeply, and I’m sure her influence on my life has made its way into some aspect of this story – and others.

      Thanks so much for being here!