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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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funeral

He Never Left Us

We called the seaside motel to book a room.

They said we’re closed for a private function.

Yes, we said, the funeral of the owner.

You know that? You may have a free room.

In a local diner dressed in our best we were asked,

Are you here for Dick’s funeral?

Our friend was very well liked.

His companies employed half the town.

A church so full, people stood.

Back at the motel well after dark.

The sea mist rose.

The fog horn sounded.

We knew Dick was still with us.

The horn will always be his loving voice.

 

Written in response to Charli Mills January 31, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

Standing In Respect – flash fiction

The funeral home parking lot was full of cars which hid the numerous motorcycles stashed in the back corner, but their large American flags flapping in the wind gave them away. I had to go look; The Patriot Guard was in presence. To enter the building I had to pass between the colonnade of men, standing at attention, on duty protecting a fellow veteran, a fellow biker and a friend. The haunted look in their eyes wasn’t for the current grief, it was from a long ago senseless war. I know, they were my friends too. Damn Viet Nam.

In response to Charli Mills January 17, 2019, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades. It can be natural, architectural, or a metaphor. Take a stroll and go where the prompt leads.

Police Escort – Flash Fiction

When my parents arrived for my son’s birthday party, my father was red-faced and sputtering. “We couldn’t turn off the side road because a cop blocked it for almost five minutes while a line of motorcycles flew by.”

“Did a lot of the bikes have American flags attached and were the riders wearing vests with lots of patches?”

“So what. They made us late.”

“I think you missed seeing the front of the line. That was the Patriot Guard escorting our neighbor’s cousin to her funeral. She was killed in Afghanistan.”

“Oh. I guess she deserved a cop escort.”

 

In response to Charli Mills May 3, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.

May 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

Cyber Monday

My sister has a new knee, Thanksgiving weekend is over, lots of us shopped on-line on Cyber Monday and are now awaiting our packages via the US mail, UPS or Fed-Ex.

Have you ever thought about the driver of a UPS or Fed-Ex truck? My son is a UPS driver, going on 23 years with the company. His body is shot from all the heavy lifting, the eighteen (or so) inch step out of and into the truck over 200 times a day, and he gets to see his daughter on weekends, because at the age of four, she is usually in bed by the time he gets home at night. On an exceptionally light delivery day he might get home by 7pm; between Thanksgiving and Christmas it is usually between 9 and 10pm.  I’m not trying to complain, just educate. Yes, he makes good money, but it comes with a price.

During the month of December a UPS driver can actually be fired for calling in sick, or taking time to go to a friends funeral. That’s where Mom gets to help. Today I will be going to the funeral of my son’s best friend’s wife, who died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 50. I am going with my daughter-in-law for moral support and as a stand-in for my son. It’s a priviledge to be able to do these things for my son, but it bothers him emotionally that he has to tell his wife, or friend he can’t be there for them because his job is at stake.

I’m not looking for sympathy, but empathy would be nice. Next time you get a package delivered whether from Cyber Monday shopping or any other day, think about the sacrifices your driver may be making to get that package to you on the day it is expected. And if that driver is a little crabby during the next month, think about the fact he/she might be letting his family down during this busy season. Thanks for listening.

Grief Can Do That To You

Today is National Grouch Day. Sesame Street has Oscar the Grouch and he is constantly complaining, about something; anything. He’s a glass-half-empty kind of fellow. The picture above shows a definitely unhappy child: maybe he’s hungry; he didn’t get to have a new toy; he doesn’t know when he’ll see his Mom again because she left in her military uniform; or his father is crying and he’s never seen him do that after talking on his cell.  The reason for the tears: he just found out his favorite uncle died.

My husband and I spent the last couple of days at the funeral of his cousin Jerry. The first of fifteen cousins in his generation we had to say good-by to. It can be frightening to think our age naturally puts us in line for it to happen more often and closer to home. The fear of the unknown date can cause you to get grouchy; the riled emotions and sadness can cause you to get grouchy; trying to find a funeral home in a big, unfamiliar city can cause you to get grouchy; and so can the noise being made by other guests in the hotel you are trying to sleep in.  It’s an emotional time for everyone involved, especially for the spouse left behind that has to figure out what the “new normal” is going to be.

Jerry had been sick for a long time. Sometimes you couldn’t even tell there was cancer in his system; other times, you didn’t think he would last another week. So when the end finally came, it was not a surprise. How much it hurts was a surprise. We all said it was a blessing he was no longer in pain. We added, he wasn’t here long enough to suit us.

I’ve been to far too many funerals already. I’ll share with you that both of my parents funerals were like a party week. The relatives came, the neighbors, the friends. People we hadn’t seen in a long time made contact with calls, cards, and flowers. It was festive. The pain set in afterwards when the house was quiet, and the company disappeared. Then the mind asks, “What just happened?”

Jerry’s funeral was like that. Cousins converged on Baltimore from Chicago, Boston, Knoxville, TN, Rochester, NY, and Miami. Friends came from next door, Washington, DC and Maine. We laughed about some memories and cried over others. We hugged each other; we said I love you. One of the family members didn’t speak to me and it really hurt my feelings. I thought he was mad at me, but then I found out he didn’t talk to hardly anyone. Grief can do that to you when you aren’t ready to face it yet.

I know this isn’t my usual type post, and there are lots of other reasons to be a grouch, but this reason is on my mind. The National Day of calendar suggests spending time with a grouch on this day and give them a reason to smile or pass them one of your own. It may help them be less of a grouch, and just maybe help them to heal from the pain of loss.

 

 

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