Thursday, October 21, 2010


The wake for J’s mom was too much food: roast, turkey, boiled potatoes, casseroles, cakes, puddings.  Neighbor E, lifelong friend, prepared the food, feverish cooking pushing back tears.  She even invited the people, many of whom were J’s relatives.  J sat stunned in a corner, as cold air accompanied feet through the door, as friends and family offered handshakes, hugs, shoulder pats.  This room he was in—when he was a kid, sitting in pajamas watching Saturday morning cartoons.  He’d sit too close to the tv.  She’d sit on the couch with a coffee mug near her face, dad upstairs sleeping off a long work week, her peering over the steam as if the cartoons mattered.  The corner where he was seated: the Christmas tree spot.  He thought about her in the hospital, dying, frail body attached to tubes and machines, eyes barely registering life.  The end—she might not make it until morning.  She didn’t.  Before she died, she gave him an old LCD watch on a necklace.  A Christmas gift from him 25 years before.  It still worked.  He hadn’t realized she still had it.  Days later he still clutched it.  Her last words: no one else knows.  He pondered the phrase, wondered what the rest of that thought was.


  1. Stunning, Christian.
    "The corner where he was seated: the Christmas tree spot. " That blew me away. A perfect detail. I know exactly where that is... if you do Christmas, you have a spot for the tree.. and yet, I wouldn't have thought of writing that in a zillion years. I paused, too over your line about cold air accompanying feet through the door. Read it thrice.
    You could have ended the story after "Days later he still clutched it," or even the line before. But those last two sentences lend a whole other story to your story. A mystery on top of some very, very nice prose.
    Extremely well done.
    (I'm behind in Casolaro; my apologies... when I have time, I'm coming back for catch-up)

  2. Quite a large, vivid picture in so few words. I agree with Cathy - it's the last two lines that really make this story even better.
    Well done.

  3. Thanks, Cathy and Deanna, for reading and your comments!