Peaceful Alternatives

flash fiction funerals family

This story was written in anticipation of a family brawl at my grandmother’s funeral. Dysfunctional families eh? But I’m happy to report that things went swimmingly. Literally it was raining like hell.

Please enjoy this story and feel free to leave any type of review or comment.

 

Funerals are only good for one thing. Showing off your hat.

 

She hated funerals. Funerals were boring as fuck. At least this was the case with all of the funerals she had been to before, which admittedly had been less than five, but experience counted for something right?

She hadn’t wanted to come to this funeral, but she knew if she didn’t her family would disown her and people would whisper: how could she not go to her grandmother’s funeral? She could just hear her great-aunt’s voice: ungrateful child!

The last funeral she had been to coincidentally had been her grandmother’s funeral. The one she didn’t know not the one currently lying in the coffin. No, this grandmother was her paternal one. She hadn’t wanted to go to that funeral either, but she wanted to support her father. She didn’t know why because he had never in the slightest bit supported her. But Janae had always been the supportive type. It had forced into her psyche to be a good, gracious girl.

Her grandmother had gone with her to the funeral. She didn’t know anyone there despite most of them being related to her by blood. She was sitting next to her grandmother when someone asked who she was.

“I’m Janae,” she said.

“And you?” The woman asked her grandmother.

“I’m Ethel.”

Recognition emerged in the woman’s eyes. “Oh I remember you. You’re Linda’s mother. So this is…?”

It was unspoken in the woman’s voice. She was the outside child. James’s little indiscretion.

The woman smiled. “Well, I’m your aunt, Janae!”

She came forward as though for a hug, but Janae held out her hand. Her grandmother had always told her to be careful around strangers.

***

She had been worried about all of her family members being in the same place—the same tiny place better known as the ancestral church Hope Springs. Janae was never a parishioner of the church. She had moved from the family’s stomping grounds before she had caught the Holy Ghost. So far she’d been back to Hope Springs only for funerals and that hadn’t changed.

“I swear to God I hate his fucking guts,” her brother said.

“Lorenzo please,” her mother said.

“Why is he here?!”

“He’s her son!”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Lorenzo hated their uncle. Lorenzo hated her father. Lorenzo hated a lot of people. Santa’s naughty list wasn’t nearly as long as Lorenzo’s hate list.

“Janae, go check on your grandmother.”

“She’s dead mom. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing to check on.”

Her mother gave her a look. She blew her curls out of her face and did as she was told.

***

She stared at her grandmother. She thought back to how her relatives had kissed her great-aunt when she was in her casket. The thought mortified her. She hadn’t kissed her grandmother when she was well. She was rarely an affectionate person. A quick hug was her idea of showing love.

She stood up and walked to the casket. Her grandmother’s hands were folded over her lower stomach. Someone had taken all of the rings she had worn off. Only one remained: her wedding ring. She resisted laughing. How idiotic. Her grandmother had divorced her grandfather, but she was still known as his widow. Janae had never gotten the logic of that.

A little shimmer caught her eye. She leaned closer to her.

Can I have that necklace?

No!

Please? Pretty please with sugar on top?

I’ll buy you one of your own. This one is mine.

Her grandmother was wearing the necklace she had bought her.

Janae smiled. She bent down and placed a kiss on her cheek.

Good King Hal

Shirley walked through the castle. She had always been fascinated with old English castles. It had started when she was a girl and her father gave her a book on them. Since then she’d long cherished a dream to come to England and tour them and now here she was.

“Oh look at him he’s wearing tights!”

She turned and saw two little boys kicking at a young man. Though the man winced he didn’t move.
 
“Where are their parents?” She muttered to herself.

“You look like a fairy!” One of them shouted.

She found herself walking towards them of her own accord. She reached forward and took them both by the ears.
 
“Ow hey!”

“It’s not nice to kick others,” she said to one.

“Get off me you old bag!”

She turned them loose. They grimaced at her but left anyway.
 
She turned to the man.

“Thank you,” he said softly.

She smiled. “You look like you needed some help.”

“Well they instructed me not to interact with the customers.”

She chuckled. “I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear that you obeyed their orders.”

He looked at quizzically.

“I’m joking ignore me. I have a weird sense of humor.”

He smiled hesitantly.

“So what can you tell me about this place Henry?”

His eyes lightened up. “You know who I am?”

“Why good King Hal of course.”

He laughed. “Finally someone gets it right. I’ve had people ask me if I’m Arthur.”

She rolled her eyes. “Plebeians.”

“Well,” he said. “St. James was finished in 1536. It turned out not to be so lucky for two of Henry’s children but it seemed to have worked out well for Elizabeth.”

She looked around at the red brick walls. The place was magnificent.

“It’s really gorgeous.”

“Would you like to look around?”

She smiled showing the dimples in her cheek. “If you’ll show me around Hal.”

He grinned. “Gladly.”
 

*The guy is named Mark but Shirley hasn’t asked him his name yet and she’s the narrator so…
**Takes place in the early 2000s
***Shirley is about fifty or so

Finished One Again. And a short.

The fourth draft of One Small Step has been finished. I realized while I was answering questions from a short story book I realized I had after all that my story was sort of disjointed. Jan hadn’t done anything to save her job in the second and third draft yet she was promoted which now that I see it seems really funny. So I reworked it and made her proactive. I’m waiting for someone to look over it. But I think this draft is better. I’m not sure if it’s perfect but it’s better.

 

I felt like writing some flash fiction. I have been adept at writing 100 words exactly though of course I slip up sometimes and leave out a word or two and it’s confusing. But I really like that format. I’m long-winded when I talk about I have this annoying quirk of being concise when I’m writing which is fine for flash but not so much for longer stuff.

But anyway. Here is the piece I wrote. The prompt was “Candy Apple Red”.

   She wore her lipstick one way and that way was candy apple red.

   Nina had started wearing lipstick when she fourteen. At first it was to impress some boy down the street but after that fizzled out she kept wearing it. Soon it became part of her identity. She simply did not feel like her if it was gone.

    Every morning she would wake up and start her routine. Shower first and then dress. Standing in front of her mirror she would pucker before applying it. She would always smile afterwards. It made the lipstick look even better.