Letting Go

From 20 feet away, I saw her looking out her front window, as usual, with folded arms resting on the sill and cradling her head.

I exhaled. Ella was asleep, so I moved stealthily. Good morning“, I heard as soon as I was within her line of vision.

“Good morning Miss Ella,” I replied muttering under my breath, “you have inbuilt motion sensors?”

“What?” she asked.

“I was saying, ‘everyone is fine at home, thank you.” I’d planned to add that to my greeting since she normally asked about my family and while I was replying, she would search for another topic to lengthen our conversation.

I quickened my pace hoping to be out of earshot before her 89-year old brain could react but she was fast.

“Not going to church this morning? I will tell the priest you are off to do the devil’s business,” she chuckled.

“No service this morning,” I replied. Time was ticking on my full schedule while her only chore was trapping passers-by into long conversations but I couldn’t ignore a lonely old lady dressed in her Sunday best on Tuesday.

“Senility isn’t wrecking my brain; it’s loneliness,” she said “old age is a bitch. Eat, drink, look out this window; that’s who I’ve become. No one to chat with, unless someone like you pass by and spare a minute with an old bird.”

My head dropped in shame. I left an hour later, my soul at peace but my schedule wrecked and my heart broken from looking deep inside old age.

She’d spoken with pride about being able, as a single mother, to pay her children’s fare so they could migrate to jobs in London during the 1950’s. They send me money now but I need to feel loved, she’d said, her eyes filled with tears.

“Was I right to let them go? ”

P.S. I wrote this partially true story for the trifecta which challenged writers to produce a story of between 33 and 333 words using the word ‘bitch’ defined as “something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant”. 

Should I have cut my story at three paragraphs before the end and add more words conveying feeling earlier? Or would that be over done? Please tell me?

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22 responses to “Letting Go

    • Thanks I am trying to work on the cliff hanger effect but wanted to expose the effects of 1950s UK-encouraged migration on caribbean people.
      Perhaps I was dealing with too few words given my inexperience to achieve that double-objective.

  1. Wonderful snapshot that perfectly captures both ends of this spectrum.

    Since you asked, I think you could have stopped it at ‘looking deep inside old age.’ Excellent phrase, btw.

    Also perfect: dressed in her Sunday best on Tuesday.

    • Thanks, I didn’t know those phrases were in me but when they fell on the screen, I glowed … Glad to know I was not alone in having that effect.
      Thanks for the visit.

  2. I enjoyed this.
    In my humble opinion I think you should have finished at – “I left an hour later, my soul at peace but my schedule wrecked and my heart broken from looking deep inside old age.” – very powerful & speak volumes. Not sure it needs, “My head dropped in shame.” as I thought this was implied in the following sentence.
    Hope this makes some sort of sense.

    • Hi Mike
      Thanks for you welcomed critique. I agreed with the old age stop. I cut a paragraph from the bottom after I wrote the post script and should have corrected it by saying two last paragraph.
      I was really torn about the ending. The ‘head dropped’ was for effect but I glad you pointed that out because after re-reading, I agree.
      Thanks for your visit and comments.

  3. I think you did a wonderful job & ended it on the right note:-)Great insights into the psyche of old age & yes it sure must be bitch to be old,unloved & alone!So much pathos in this piece-could relate to the issues you have wanted to focus on.I also liked the maturity with which you handled this sensitive topic.Welcome to Trifecta:-)

  4. I too liked this a great deal.It had a beautiful rhythm to it. And the last question at the end is so heartbreaking because as much as parents wish it wasn’t so, children will always go away, even if they end up coming back.

    I was inclined to agree with Mike, to stop the piece at …my heart broken from looking deep inside old age…and that the hanging the head was implied. However if you did want to go on to beat two I might put it in the present tense so that we experience their time together with them. I also found the dialogue being in italics a little confusing because I wasn’t sure the words were actually being said.

  5. I like this quite a lot. I agree with Draug. I would only edit out two or three sentences: I exhaled, and My head dropped in shame. I might alter the sentence – but I need to feel loved. You say it’s partially true. Did she say that? It seems like she’d say something like but I’d rather they come to see me or call me or something like that. And you might take out the last sentence. But, really – it’s very, very good. I wanted to know what she said – that’s why I wouldn’t stop after the old bird paragraph. My 2 cents. Cheers. Hope to see you again in the challenge.

    • Every time, I pass she speaks about the advantages and disadvantages of having children overseas. I think her conclusion is that it benefited England but she is unsure that it was helpful to us.
      I didn’t use her actual conversation, that is fiction but i got the sentiments from our numerous talks.
      I understand that you are saying her ‘love’ comment did not seem in keeping with the language one would expect from her. Point taken. Thanks

  6. Welcome to Trifecta, we’re glad to have you! I am going to throw my support behind ending this piece with the spare a minute with an old bird line. That line packs a punch and leaves the reader feeling the shame instead of reading about it.
    Come on back soon!

  7. Gr8 story in so few words. How would just this change look ?
    “An hour later, my soul was at peace but my schedule wrecked. My heart was broken from looking deep inside old age. …”
    Thanks.

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