NaBloPoMo Day Eleven:
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
by Cheri

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.

21 comments on “Over the Hills and Far Away”

  1. There were children and stepchildren started and failed, and although he would die alone someday, the damage from his cruelty would linger in them.

    the damage would linger in them.. wow.. that is just so moving, and sadly, a truth in so many millions of lives

  2. wow.

    I think it’s particularly hard to write about unpleasant people and get inside them in a way that makes them come alive to the reader. It’s hard, because its risky for the writer to touch that core of (in this case) cruelty within. You’ve done an amazing job with this – I despise this man, yet pity him, and, worse I believe in the reality you’ve created here.

    Chills up my spine. You’ve got a helluva talent.

  3. Yikes. Having to have the pig buried on top of her was the final blow. Even in death, she couldn’t get out from under him. Your imagery here sticks with the reader. Haunting.

  4. Your story left a haunting visage for me to contemplate the whole day through. For that I thank you, because an author’s tale is but the start of the conversation with their reader.

  5. Cheri, this is amazing. I’m in tears. You brought us into the trailer, into their lives, in such a short piece. I look forward to seeing what you’ll do with a short story, heck, a novel. Sheryl

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