Over the Hills and Far Away
Deb at San Diego Momma is hosting PROMPTuesday #30: Over the Hills and Far Away. Deb’s prompt today is to make up a story inspired by the picture below, a painting done by her friend Rebecca. Rebecca passed away yesterday.
Over the Hills and Far Away, To Grandmother’s House We Go
Elsie sat on the blue naugahyde sofa. She called it the davenport in the days when it was in her home. Now it was in a mobile home park in Hawthorne, California. Elsie sat upon it, finally defeated for good. She had given up, really years before, but her defeat was now unmasked. She would die in that trailer. Lawrence Welk was on the television set in the corner of the small room, and bubbles floated across the black and white screen. It was a modern television set at the time, encased in a wood-grained pressboard cabinet. A pot of artificial violets sat on top of it. Illusory indications of comfort like that were about.
He sat in his recliner across from her, cruel, vacant eyed, and quiet. He smoked. He drank coffee with milk and Sweeta. He wore dark polyester-blend pants, house slippers, and a sleeveless white undershirt. Grey whiskers spread across his jaws, neck, and chin. His hair had not been washed in days, perhaps weeks. He sat. He schemed. He’d always been one, a schemer. There were businesses started and failed, and there would be another when Elsie was gone. There were marriages started and failed, but his to Elsie would be the last. There were children and stepchildren started and failed, and although he would die alone someday, the damage from his cruelty would linger in them.
Day after day, they went through the motions. She was dressed, fed, and given her various prescriptions, including a daily dose of insulin injected into her belly. She would sometimes muster a smile with her lips, but her eyes were always pleading, defeated. She would sometimes utter a sentence or even a joke, but her voice was always whining, defeated. She no longer read it having once committed much of it to memory, but would sometimes hold her Bible with its soft worn cover and gilt-edged pages. Her sister pleaded with him in earnest to let her take Elsie home with her, but he wouldn’t allow it. Her daughter made pleas too, but not so passionately. The daughter had long ago surrendered her life to perceived helplessness.
There was no autopsy when Elsie passed away, an elderly diabetic woman. She was laid to rest in a Southern California cemetery, the last plot in a row of them, next to a building. It was a double crypt, and eventually he would be buried on top of Elsie. The location of Elsie’s plot, and her coffin’s position in it, bothered her daughter. But however bitterly, all she ever did was complain. Later, years and years later, he would tell his children that one day he had decided to stop giving Elsie her insulin. He said he thought it was best, all things considered.