Monday, February 15, 2016

WEP February Challenge

This is my first WEP writing or reading but I hope to read as many as I can. Just a note (FYI) my aunt actually did smoke a lot and die of cancer this January, so my story is loosely based off that real life drama. My extended family is still getting used to her being gone and I guess I used this as an opportunity to process some of those feelings! Looking forward to reading the other stories as well, thanks all!

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The envelope was a massive prepaid cardboard one with the top securely fastened shut with adhesive strip. It was glossy but not entirely waterproof. Breanna rolled it in her hands and wondered at the contents; it was certainly stuffed full of something that lent an odd shape to the package, something besides tidy, flat papers.

It was February 13th, Breanna’s twenty-eighth birthday and the day before Valentine’s Day. The package had something to do with her birthday, Valentine’s Day, or both; the return address only added to the mystery as she read her Aunt Sarah’s address-her dead Aunt Sarah’s address.

Breanna carefully held the envelope before her and inspected the slanting, wispy handwriting in rich turquoise ink. Definitely her aunt’s handiwork. It must’ve been compiled a few weeks previous in mid-January during the last few days of Aunt Sarah’s life.

“Leave it to Aunt Sarah, huh?” Breanna grinned at Mr. Sours, her plump himalayan cat. His face was flat, his eyes light blue and the hair on his tail, paws, ears, and face a rich chocolate in heavy contrast to the light cream of his body. “I bet you tuna she remembered you.” Breanna smiled and nodded pointedly at the cat as she used a small pair of scissors to carefully slice open the envelope.

Prying open the cardboard, Breanna peered inside and began delicately removing the assorted contents, the first of which was thin volume by Edith Wharton, a book titled “Summer.” There was also a birthday card with Breanna’s name on it, a bag of  cat treats, and a couple sheets of notepaper covered in the sloping turquoise writing made out to Breanna and Mr. Sours.

She sighed and rubbed Mr. Sours’ ears as she tossed the bag of cat treats at his feet. “Told you she would remember you!” He purred indulgently and continued to watch Breanna explore the package.

In addition to the note, the treats, the book, the card, there was also a small fabric pouch that apparently served as some sort of jewelry case. Breanna removed a necklace from the pouch and discovered a large opal amulet with a matching gold chain.  She also uncovered a small box of chocolates and an old photograph of them when Breanna was barely 5-years old.

Aunt Sarah had succumbed to cancer in January. It had happened so fast it was almost hard to believe that she was indeed gone but the memorial was over and her closets were being cleaned out by her sons and their step-father.

Sifting through the package once more, Breanna sighed and resorted the contents into neat piles. Treats for Mr. Sours, a necklace for herself, a book, letters, the small box of chocolates, and an old photograph. The items tugged at her heartstrings but she was glad for it all, so thankful that her Aunt Sarah had taken the time in her final days to create this package .

Breanna hadn’t gone to see Aunt Sarah in her final days. It was still a little surreal that Aunt Sarah was gone, but Breanna could remember the stinging, burning smoky scent of her aunt’s home and the painful aches in her throat and nose during her visits there. She was sad that she didn’t get to say farewell but also angry that her aunt would do that to herself; all the smoking and not-quite-healthy living that certainly abbreviated her lifetime and disappointed Breanna.

“Here’s what she wrote, Mr. Sours.” Breanna smoothed the sheets of notepaper against the edge of the couch, glancing to his smushed face as he reclined in the corner of the plaid green piece of furniture. “Dear Breanna and Mr. Sours, You probably know already that I’m not doing too well. The smoking finally caught up with me. The cancer is all over the place. There isn’t much the doctors can do except try to make me comfortable but I appreciate that. This year is your 28th birthday and quite possibly the last birthday I will be around for. I wanted to make sure that you got something special from your favorite aunt!”

“I found you an special opal necklace that I thought you would like and a book I think you would enjoy reading, of course a birthday isn’t complete without something sweet so I added a little box of chocolates too. Of course I wouldn’t forget Mr. Sours. He has his own treats and a little stuffed mouse with a bell in it, that should drive him batty!”

“The photograph of us is from your fifth Easter. You did a marvelous job searching for Easter eggs that year and I loved hiding them for you. I think you still hate malted milk balls? Am I right? That year I hid a lot of jelly beans! I so enjoyed playing Easter bunny for you, Breanna, I hope you know that. Christmas was fun too but Easter was more of a production looking for treats and toys all day long, indoors and out, I hope you can have fun like that with your nieces and nephews or cousins. I’m so glad I got to play like that with you, I will always treasure those memories. Thank you for letting me be your special Aunt Sarah,”

“Breanna, I can’t write you without bringing up cigarettes and begging you to please leave them be. It’s just not worth it. The damage they wreak and you can’t imagine how much money I spend on cigarettes every month! Do better for yourself, dear. I know that you can. I’m sure Mr. Sours appreciates clean air too!”

“Love you forever, little one. Take care. Love, your Aunt Sarah.”

Breanna glanced at Mr. Sours, “That was all she wrote.”

Mr. Sours hopped down to the floor and head-butted her shin, gazing lovingly at the cat treats still resting on the couch.

"Meow."

"Okay.” Breanna rolled her eyes and smiled as she opened the bag of treats, saying mostly to herself, “Thank you, we love you too."

“Meow.”
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Word Count: 1000  FCA


28 comments:

  1. Hi Hanna:
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost an Uncle due to cancer caused by cigarettes, he was 42. So heartbreaking as he left 3 young children.
    Your story was heartbreaking and yet, as you said filled with hope. Aunt Sarah did realize the danger and wanted to pass that message on. Your story will do that too.
    This was a wonderful addition to the WEP Challenge! Thank you for participating.

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    1. Hi Yolanda, Sorry to hear about your uncle, 42 is so young! and to leave 3 young children behind. That is so very sad. Thank you for your comments and hosting the WEP Challenge, I wish for healing times ahead for all of us :)

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  2. What a beautiful story, Hannah. I do love your stories. :-)

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    1. Thanks Birdie :) I hope to keep writing more of them!

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  3. I am completely unsurprised that you rocked this challenge. Sad, and hopeful and beautiful.

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    1. Thanks EC :) I'm glad I participated and look forward to future challenges. Thanks for encouraging me to keep writing!

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  4. A beautiful aunt who must have loved you a lot to think so carefully about gifts you'd enjoy and words of wisdom you'd heed. Your story was very touching and a wonderful tribute to your aunt.

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    1. Thank you :) She was a very loving aunt, yes indeed. I have many wonderful memories to cherish of her, I just shared one earlier about sneaking green food dye into a batch of meringue with her, much to my mother's chagrin!

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  5. What a wonderful story, beautifully crafted with all the little details. The addition of Mr Sours made it all the more touching. A lovely legacy from a favourite aunt, with advice for her young niece. Very heartwarming.

    Hannah, so pleased to have you writing for WEP. This entry will touch many hearts and very fitting for the Valentine's Day prompt.

    Thanks for participating!

    Denise :-)

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    1. Thank you! I don't have a cat at the moment but I am a cat person deep down and through and through; Mr. Sours was inspired by an old cat and a favorite teacher from middle school, I'm glad you enjoyed him! Also glad to read that someone found my piece heartwarming, that sure makes me feel good as I work through some of my grief!

      Looking forward to participating in future challenges as well. Thanks again!

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  6. A lovely and touching story. I lost my father, aged 78, and father in law, aged 88, to lung cancer from smoking, yet sadly, both my sons continue to smoke.

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    1. My jaw dropped when I read this River, I'm so sorry to hear that, I wish the best of health for the rest of your family and the best of luck to you all, stay strong.

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  7. Cancer is such a devastating disease. So sorry for your loss. Our writing is an excellent way to channel our emotions be it grief or something else. I think you captured this sorrow and infused it with love expertly. Great job.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy, reading "infused it with love" makes me feel so wonderful! Thank you!

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  8. A wonderful story. I'm sorry for your loss, but how amazing it is that a tragedy in your life inspired you to celebrate your aunt's memory with such a loving tale. The best memorial to her.

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  9. A wonderful Valentine's story with a warning of caution to people who smoke. Sometimes we don't realize that some of the habits we have cut our lives short and take us away from the ones we love and leave behind pain and loving memories.
    Thank you for sharing. It was very nicely written.
    Shalom,
    Pat

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  10. A beautiful way to remember and honour your aunt. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. A sad but also an uplifting Valentine tale, with a life lesson so many ignore. Well done.

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    1. Thank you! It feels good to get it out there :)

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  11. A poignant, bittersweet tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss, and hope the memories you had together continue to inspire you.

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    1. Thank you Samantha! I'm sure my special memories will continue to inspire me, she definitely left behind some wonderful memories :)

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  12. I'll be honest, when I clicked on a link that read 'Hannah Bananaface', I wasn't expecting to read something poignant. Judging books by their covers and that kind of thing. :)

    I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Cigarettes or no, cancer is an ugly, ugly thing. Hopefully this tale helped to be a coping mechanism. I know blogging helped e a great deal in dealing with my mom's passing.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Ha! Your comment cracks me up; I'm happy I could violate your expectation a little bit and produce something poignant despite my somewhat ... silly? name. I never knew for certain that my aunt would get cancer and die but I suspected it for many years so that when it finally came to fruition I was somewhat prepared... Writing a bit had helped me with my feelings. Thank you for reading, and for providing me with a little giggle or two! Sorry about your mom, wishing peaceful thoughts for your future :)

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  13. A lovely story, to receive such a thoughtful gift when her aunt was obviously so ill must mean a lot.

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    1. Yes, there were several happy/sad moments with all the drama going on, but I'm very glad that I'll always have positive memories to remember my Aunt Sally by!

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  14. Writing can be cathartic. I hope this helped. So sorry for your loss, but it did produce a pretty little snippet.

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  15. It would be heart wrenching to receive the envelope after the person died and to think that in their last days they were thinking of you. It will be comforting as time passes to know you had this special relationship with your aunt.

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Thank you for reading and commenting!

Be well, HBF