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An Unfinished (Unedited) Short Story: The Wake

I know this is probably not such a good thing to do. You would think that I would edit this first before posting it, but honestly it was not meant to ever be seen. Besides I kind of like the rawness of it. This story actually was the basis for my novel The House of Balestrom.

I have to add that I don’t really write short stories. I practice writing scenes or scenarios that will help my writing for novels. I wanted to practice melodrama like Tennessee Williams–Street Car Named Desire, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Situation drama is what I call it. Writing dramatic characters as they react over a situation. It’s good practice just to jump in and challenge yourself like that. I am still trying to master the craft. 🙂

But please enjoy the story–it is unfinished and maybe one day I will complete it and well edit it too. Leave comments if you like. Feedback is always welcomed.

XO

THE WAKE

Natalie stood over Tobey’s coffin.  She reached down and touched her hand to his face and quickly retracted her hand like it hurt.  His skin felt cold and like plastic.  She could hardly tell where he had shot himself, but she knew where the wound was.  Natalie shook slightly from the memory of finding Tobey lying on the floor of the apartment dead, his brain and blood covering a wall and seat he was in before his heavy dead body slumped to the floor to settle.  She looked at him almost expecting him to wake up, but Tobey lay there emotionless.

            “It’s amazing what they did for him,” Angie said as she came up next to Natalie.  Angie placed her hands on either side of Natalie’s waist and held her.  “He looks like he is just sleeping.” Angie was Tobey’s mother.  She was a short woman with a heavy frame.  She seemed at times very odd and scattered, but every now and then she could surprise you.  Angie held onto some strange old beliefs that Natalie didn’t understand, maybe it was the age difference or the fact that she wasn’t close enough to Tobey’s parents to understand them.  Natalie looked at her hand and suddenly wanted to wash it.  The touch of death was cold and she could feel it moving through her fingers.  Angie reached down and touched her son’s face and then she rubbed her hand on to the suit he was wearing-like she was fixing him up.  “You see dear, he’s just asleep.”  Angie turned to look at Natalie and she smiled.  They hugged.  Natalie knew that was the only way Angie could cope with the fact that her only son had died.

While hugging Angie Natalie glanced over to the couch and saw Tobey’s father sitting quietly by himself.  He pulled inside himself over tragedy when Angie cried.  The whole family was there and Natalie was alone.  She had no family to come and comfort her.  She had Tobey’s family.  She moved away from Angie and Tobey’s body and went to sit in a chair.  Angie quickly started to cry hard and she held onto the coffin like she was going to knock it over.

“My baby boy,” she cried.  “My baby boy is gone!”

“Hush now,” Terry said as she walked over to Angie.  Terry was Angie’s sister.  Terry’s daughter Mary ran over to help pull Angie away from the coffin.  “He’s just sleeping Angie.  Your boy is just sleeping.”  Natalie clinched her fists over the comment that Tobey was just sleeping.  She wanted them to stop saying it.

“I know,” Angie said.  “I know I just wish he would wake up.  I walk over to look at how handsome he is and how I miss him so much.  I just want to call to him.” She touched Terry’s knee.  She blotted her eyes and nose with a tissue.  “I want to call him and say wake up Tobey.  Wake up and lets go have dinner.”

“I know you do Angie, but he isn’t going to wake up,” Terry said, placing an arm around her sister’s shoulder.  “Tobey has gone to a better place now.  He isn’t suffering any longer.”

“You’re right Terry. You’re right he is in a better place now,” Angie said half believing it.  She blotted her nose and looked at the coffin.  A couple came over and hugged Angie and gave their condolences.  She thanked them and blotted her eyes.  Natalie just sat and watched as if she were not in the room.  It was like she was invisible right now and everyone was focused on Angie and her crying and her sadness.  They didn’t seem to care about Natalie’s sadness or even if she cared for Tobey.  Then as if her mind could be read, Mary looked over at her and then stood up.  Mary walked across the room to where Natalie was sitting.  She knelt down next to her and hugged her.

“I feel so bad for you,” she said.  “I can’t imagine what you must be going through; after all you were the one who found him.” Mary was so polite compared to her abrasive mother and father, who was out of the picture since Terry came home one day early from work and found him in bed with another man.  Natalie could remember the conversation Tobey and her had about it.  It made them both laugh; because Terry’s husband had argued that Terry had done that to him.  That she had forced him into the arms of another man with her being so cold and distant.  It brought a smile to Natalie’s face just thinking about it.

“My baby boy was such a great man,” Angie said.  “He was such a great man.  Wasn’t he Natalie?”  Natalie looked up at Angie-who was standing now looking at her.  “He did so many good things for his family and for you.” Natalie did not say anything, she just listened.  “Tobey served in the war and came home a hero.  He also cared for Natalie.  Tobey did so much for his community and church.  I remember the time when he helped Pastor Marks with the plans of building onto the church and then was there every morning hammering away making sure we had that extra space before Easter.  He was such a good man.”

“Amen,” someone chanted.

“Don’t forget about the time Tobey cleared that old parking lot out no one was using and made it into a basketball court for the kids to play at,” someone said.

“Tobey was a good man and he is in heaven with God,” someone else had said.  Angie smiled and cried some more.  She looked at Natalie who didn’t respond to anything that was being said.

“Tell us Natalie how Tobey was good to you.  Tell us what he did for you,” Angie said.  Natalie paused.  “Well come one darling tell us what he had done,” she begged.

“Well,” Natalie said slowly lifting herself up from the chair.  She paused and looked at Mary and then rose to her feet.  She walked over to Angie looking her in the eyes.  She then looked at everyone else as they waited for her to say something.  Natalie didn’t know what to say.  She turned to look at Tobey lying in his coffin. “I don’t know what to say,” she whispered.

“Come on dear, cat got your tongue,” Angie said.

“I said I don’t know what to say,” she said.

“What?”

“I don’t know what to say about Tobey.”

“Well just say the good things he did for you,” Terry said.

“I can’t say any good things,” she said.  They all looked confused.

“Why not sweetheart?”

“Because there aren’t any good things to say about Tobey,” Natalie said.  She kept rubbing her hands together out of nervousness.

“What do you mean there aren’t any good things to say about Tobey,” Angie said.  “My son was a hero,” she said.

“A hero to you maybe, but a villain to me,” she said.

“What,” Angie gasped at the words she had just heard.  “You take that back.”

“She didn’t mean it,” Terry said.  “She’s just upset. Aren’t you Natalie, you’re just upset.  Tell them that you’re upset with what happened- on how you found Tobey that night.”  Natalie paused.

“Take it back,” Angie said.

“Take what back,” she said.  “Take back the fact that I don’t believe your son was a hero. How about the fact that he wasn’t even a good husband.” Angie reached up and slapped Natalie.  She held her face from where Angie’s hand had made contact with her face.  She rubbed her face to get rid of the sting.

“You’re an ungrateful woman,” Angie said.  Terry took a hold of Angie and moved her to a chair for her to sit down.

“Is this what it has become,” Mary asked, as she walked over to Natalie and placed her arm around to hold her.

“What are you talking about Mary,” her mother asked.

“This, mom, this is what I am talking about,” she said holding a hand up and waving it around.

“Shut up, Mary,” her mother said.  “This isn’t really any of your business.”

“What,” Mary said.

“It’s just as much her business as it is yours, Terry,” Natalie said.  Terry perked up, tightening her jaw.

“I’m not getting involved in this.  I’m here because it was my nephew that has died.  I loved him dearly,” she said, looking pass Natalie to the coffin.  She looked a little sad, but Natalie couldn’t tell if it was because she never had a son of her own.  Terry had taken the time from Tobey’s birth to treat him like he was her own.  Angie didn’t mind much, because it allowed her to get a lot of things done around the house.

“You’re already involved, Terry.  You were involved from day one, so don’t even act like you are so innocent around here and that you are the wise mother for all of us.  You couldn’t even…” Natalie said as she was interrupted.

“Don’t you even dare say what I think you were about to say,” Terry said.

“Well it’s true,” Natalie said.

“It’s none of your business,” Terry said.

“Isn’t it my business?  Am I not part of this family?”  Natalie laughed and walked away from Mary, who had slowly let go of her.  Mary stepped back a little and looked at both Natalie and her mother.  Natalie walked over to a white column and leaned against it.  She shook her head and then rubbed her forehead with her hand.  “Of course I’m not a part of this family.  Why would I even ask that question,” Natalie said as if she was the only one in the room.  “It’s almost ridiculous you know,” she said looking at them all staring at her.

“You’re talking crazy, Nat,” Mary said.  “Of course you’re a part of this family.  You have always been and just because Tobey is gone—dead, doesn’t mean that any of that changes.”  Natalie reached out and took Mary’s hand.

“My son is not dead,” Angie declared.  “He is merely asleep,” she said getting up from the chair and walking over to his coffin.  She reached into the coffin and touched her son’s face again.  She started to cry.  “My poor son,” she said softly to herself.  “My poor son asleep.”

“If she keeps saying that,” Natalie said watching Angie crying and shaking over Tobey’s body.  Natalie let Mary’s hand go and almost hugged the column.

“Oh, how I wish he would wake up,” she said.

“Stop saying that,” Natalie said hugging the column tighter.  She closed her eyes trying to push back the irritation she was feeling.  Terry walked over to Angie again and held her shoulders.

“It will be okay,” she said.

“Wake up my boy,” Angie said.  “Wake up!”

“Stop it,” Natalie yelled.  “Stop it, now! This is crazy.  He isn’t asleep you old woman.  He’s dead.  Your son is dead.”  Both women looked at Natalie like she had gone insane.  They couldn’t believe that she was acting like this.  “You never cared for Tobey like I did. Why act like you never wanted him to leave this world?  Besides he is better off dead.”

“Make her shut up,” Angie said, glancing at Terry.

“Now listen, you can’t be saying things like that,” Terry said.

“Why not,” Natalie asked.  “It’s true.  She didn’t care about Tobey.  If she did she wouldn’t have allowed him to be like he was.”

“What are you talking about?”

“She encouraged Tobey to be like he was.  She acted like his sickness didn’t even exist,” Natalie said.

“Make her shut up,” Angie said again.

“You didn’t help your son when he needed it,” Natalie said.  “You let him act out his depression and you acted like he was okay.”

“Tobey was okay,” Terry said.  “I should know… he spent a lot of time with me.”

“Tobey wasn’t okay and you knew it too.  He did spend a lot of time with you, Terry,” she said.  “You were like his second mother. Another mother who didn’t really care for her son—or forgot about her daughter.” Terry looked from Natalie to Mary who seemed to slouch and look down at the floor.  Mary moved across the room and took a seat in a chair.

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about your own daughter, Mary!” Natalie pointed at Mary who was trying not to look at them.  “I’m talking about how you would run off and do things with Tobey and ignore your own child.  A child who was going through her own changes to become a woman and her own mother wasn’t there for her.”  Terry looked over at her daughter again.  Mary glanced at her and then looked down to cry.  “Lucky for her I came along and showed her things that she was too afraid to ask you about.”

“She has friends that could have helped her,” Terry said.

“Friends,” Natalie said.  “Do you know how embarrassing it is to ask your friends about certain things when you should have informed her of them already.”  Terry walked over to Mary.  “She doesn’t even think you love her.”

“Do you mind, I want to hear this from my daughter!” Terry looked down at Mary, who continued to look away from her mother.  “Mary,” she said to her in a quiet voice.  “Is this true?”

Mary didn’t speak, she just sat in silence.  Terry fell to her knees, taking a hold of Mary’s hands.

“Tell me, is that true,” she asked.

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