Short Story

Discussion in 'Writers Forum' started by weaselpop, May 27, 2004.

  1. weaselpop

    weaselpop Member

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    I haven't finished it yet, though I'm nearly there. Here's about half of it:

    On the morning of the funeral the sun had decided on being defiantly warm. Brian, Tom’s father, was to be buried later that day. It was an open casket affair and the body had been placed in a room where wide French windows opened out into the garden. A broad band of light decorated the coffin. With the shade on either side, it made it look as if someone had laid a length of ribbon across the lacquered box with the intent of tying it up with a bow – like a Christmas present – when it was shut.

    When Lizzie went to look at the corpse she pictured Brian as could remember him from the visits and pictures that she’d experienced and seen. He was only sixty-five, and had been retired for not even a year before he died of a heart attack. His hair was, unsurprisingly, short, and stuck somewhere between brown and grey, and his face was marked with the unmissable landmark of a proudly maintained moustache. Kitty, the second half to the couple, was always trying to get him to shave it off, but he refused. It was the one bit of him it seemed she couldn’t touch. A little island of independence. Lizzie remembered one time at dinner with them, when Tom was in hysteria relating a story about the time Kitty had tried to cut it off, and Brian stubbornly went around with a lopsided moustache for an age. Little sister Gemma had sat there looking left out. She hadn’t been born yet.

    The dog, Poppy, was wondering about freely, and she went up to Lizzie and rubbed against her leg. It had been washed, and the fur felt soft under Lizzie’s fingers. She wondered who had been thoughtful enough to prepare her for such a solemn day. The dog was getting old, and going grey. Lizzie hadn’t really thought that dogs went grey before she met this one, but she’d never seen a dog grow old; she was more of a cat person. She was surprised to see it as a puppy in photographs, pictured with a young Tom and a vibrantly coloured coat. Lizzie patted it, and it looked lovingly into her eyes in the way dogs always seem to do when you give them a tiny piece of comfort.

    Lizzie forced herself to leave the company of the dog. She walked across the light filled room to the casket and looked down into the face of a stranger. She stood in shock for a moment, wondering if she’d got the facts right, wondering if it wasn’t an uncle of Tom’s instead of a father. The look of confusion melted into that of vague comprehension. She guessed that Kitty had had him shaved; a last victory for the woman, and a nice, clean-cut husband to display to the world.

    Lizzie turned around and scanned the room for Tom, but he was nowhere to be seen. She set out to find him, but somehow managed to bump into Kitty. This was the last person Lizzie wanted to see right now, which she was ashamed to say under the circumstances, but in her opinion, what Kitty had done was unforgivable.

    Kitty was, as everyone else, dressed in black, but she liked to think that hers was a slightly darker shade, as is befitting of a widow. She had noticed her daughter-in-law wondering about on her own, silly girl, and couldn’t bear to see the disorder of a loose guest, especially at a funeral, where everything has a duty to be naturally solemn and ordered. To be honest, Lizzie wasn’t strictly her daughter-in-law, but Kitty thought she should be. Though she wasn’t sure whether she approved of her as a potential relation or not, this thing of Thomas’ about being ‘modern’ and not marrying was silly.

    It turned out that Lizzie was just looking for Thomas, so Kitty directed her out into the garden. Tom’s first instinct was to hide his cigarette when he saw Lizzie coming through the French window, but instead he took another drag on the white stick. She looked meaningfully at the cigarette in his hand, unspoken accusations running rife. Despite the decision not to make excuses, Harry couldn’t help but retort to this with an irritable ‘I’m stressed, alright?’

    ‘You don’t smoke,’ said Lizzie, a fact since two and a half months after she met him. Harry said nothing, but then gestured inside to the casket framed in the doorway. She mentioned the killing affects of fags. Harry gave her a sharp look, but then softened he saw her face fall with the realisation of the insensitivity of using that line of argument. He reached out for Lizzie’s hand and loosely held her fingers, turning a ring round and round her right ring finger.

    ‘I’ll finish this one and stop,’ he said.

    They heard a screech around the side of the house and found Gemma leaning against the wall and standing on one leg with her other foot clasped in one hand. She turned around on hearing Lizzie and Harry approaching her and gave them a pathetic look.

    ‘My heel broke,’ she whimpered, slipping off the raised shoe and showing it to them along with a surprisingly long heel. ‘It came clear off.’

    Lizzie opened her mouth slightly and raised her eyebrows at Harry. He didn’t return her look. He was all too used to his sister’s mishaps and silly mistakes.

    ‘What are you going to do?’ he asked. ‘You have other shoes, don’t you?’

    Gemma looked at him and nodded miserably.

    ‘I’ll… I’ll go now, then,’ she half stated half asked, and then hobbled off inside, sneaking upstairs without anyone noticing her.

    ‘I’m not experienced when it comes to funerals,’ said Lizzie, looking at the empty space where Gemma had disappeared out of sight. ‘But were those shoes appropriate?’

    Harry shook his head, finished the cigarette, dropped it and crushed it under his foot. Lizzie gave him a look and he picked up the fag end, walked to the bin, and dropped it in. Lizzie took his arm and patted it.

    ‘Good boy,’ she said quietly.

    Kitty immediately spotted them as they entered the house, and gestured frantically, though solemnly, for Harry.

    ‘Mum needs me,’ he said. ‘You’ll be alright?’

    ‘Yeah,’ said Lizzie. ‘I need the toilet anyway.’

    It turned out that the hearse that was due to pick up the body been delayed, and wasn’t going to be there for at least a half hour after it was expected. After Harry had been on the phone to the funeral parlour, Kitty instructed Harry to get everyone out of the room with the coffin.
  2. EroticCookie

    EroticCookie Guest

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    I honestly like it. It's a nice little read. Keep up the good work.
  3. veinglory

    veinglory Member

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    The central element of the moustache is brilliant and interesting. It needs a good firm ending to do it justice, an extra twist.
  4. weaselpop

    weaselpop Member

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    Oh, there's a twist alright... all the people i've told it have laughed, though not always at the same bit. :) Fanks
  5. ghostchildd

    ghostchildd Banned

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