This week’s Tipsy Lit prompt was to write about a family tradition that’s changed. I used that as inspiration and went rogue. Here’s my fictional story, titled The Wake.
Mom walked toward the front of the room, down an aisle lined on each side with rows of folding metal chairs. The kind that always made froze my little butt. She was gripping my hand and dragging me along with her. I didn’t fight. I didn’t know to fight. We were in a long line of people, dressed in dark clothes, tissues in hand and dabbing at the corners of their eyes.
A lone, sad voice warbled it’s way through “Danny Boy” in a room of huddled silence. A box was up in front of us. A long, wooden one. The top was open and lined with a white, slippery-looking fabric like the dress my cousin had worn for First Communion a few weeks before. Was that her dress in the box, I wondered.
People stopped, looked in to the box; their lips moved as if speaking to themselves. I squirmed around, trying to see anything, to understand.
I was four, and my grandpa had died. Or went somewhere. The way my mom explained it to me, anxious with sadness choking her voice and tears streaming down her face, he could be anywhere.
The line was slowly getting shorter. And we soon approached the front. I still couldn’t see in. I couldn’t see what was in the box. Why everyone was so fascinated by it. What they were talking about. Mom clutched the worn, gold crucifix at her neck and looked down into the box, whispering what I’ve come to realize was a prayer.
“What’s in there, Mommy?” I said.
“Your grandpa, sweety,” she replied.
“What’s he doing in there?'” I asked and brightened. “Is he playing a game?” She didn’t answer but looked down at me sadness and confusion in her face.
“Can I see?” I’m still not sure why, but my Mom agreed. I wonder what was she thinking as she picked me up and showed me a waxy, white figurine of my Grandpa sleeping. But he wasn’t sleeping. I could see that. Tears welled up in the corner of my eyes, and, as my cousin tells it, I started to bawl like nothing any body had ever seen before.
“Wake him up! Wake him up!” I wailed as my Mom panicked and drug me out the side door. My dad was there.
“What happened?” he asked my Mom.
“She wanted to see; I didn’t know what to do,” she said tears streaming down her face again.
“And you thought that would be a good idea?” Mom couldn’t respond to this. She’d broken down completely and wasn’t able to think to stand, let alone talk.
I’m not terribly proud of this piece. It definitely needs some work, but I’ve wanted to practice my writing more and share my writing more. What do you think?
14 thoughts on “Tipsy Lit Prompt: Family Traditions”
I like the sentiment coming out here. I feel so much for the mom who doesn’t know what to do and for the little girl traumatized by her first encounter with death, a little less for the husband upset that his daughter’s been traumatized but also not handling his wife’s grief well. Your characters are real people.
Some nice touches here. The comparison of the coffin lining with the communion dress for example, and the detail about the chairs being cold. It’s better than you think.
Oh, thanks! Hopefully with more practice I’ll get better (and more confident)!
If you are any sort of writer with heart. you never ever get more confident. It goes with the territory. But better? Oh yeah. And I as I said this wasn’t a bad starting point, honestly.
Thanks for the advice, and it couldn’t be more timely. I’ve been contemplating the whole thought of will I ever be confident with my writing. It’s nice to know that not being confident isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it seems like a good thing that a writer will always be looking for a better word or working to write a better paragraph or story than the previous one. I really, really appreciate your advice!
Golly gosh! Did i give some advice? How remiss of me.
Ray Bradbury, I think, once said ‘Write three hundred words a day for a year. At the end, you’ll have a million words. Not all of those will be bad.’ Something like that.
You gave advice, and it was very welcome!
I like that quote. At that point, some words have to be good.
I’ll try not to do it again, honest.
Although if it worked… I may take up as an agony aunt. Bottomless market as far as I can see.
Thanks! I need more practice, but it was fun to write.
If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong. Frustrating, irritating, annoying, yes all of those. But fun has to be at the top of the tree, or it will show.
Oh, absolutely. I definitely go through the frustration and irritation, but at the end, I really do have fun when I write, even just for my blog.
‘Even just for my blog.’ Strange turn of phrse. I think blogging is damned hard work myself.
Oh, this old thing? It’s barely work! No, it’s definitely hard work, but I do enjoy every bit of it, even my brief Weekly Reads posts.
That was a typical woman’s response to a compliment. I blogged about this once upon a time. So it made me smile