Gloria wakes to the sound of the teakettle whistling. She didn’t mean to fall asleep. She’s just tired from the funeral. Alone now, she can curl up under a blanket with a cup of tea and relax.
She’s run out of her favorite tea. This is a homemade gift, one of many snacks, desserts, and drinks well-meaning family and friends have brought her. She’ll never finish all their thoughtful offerings.
Gloria really is alone now. She buried her husband years ago. Next, she lost the beloved cat, Lola. Finally today, she buried her daughter Melanie.
She closes her eyes for a moment. When she opens them, Melanie stands before her, looking just the way Gloria would want to remember her.
The story turns nicely on a dime from a mother who seems to have lost everything, seeking comfort in a cup a tea and a warm blanket, into something more complex. There is more than meets the eye.
A couple of questions remain unanswered. The reader never gets to know Gloria, for example. It seems this is more a function of the space constraints, however, than lack of caring on the part of the author. For example, he tells the reader the ingredients of Gloria’s tea by their scent and that she’s still damp from the rain at the funeral.
I found this story to be engaging and well-written. I liked it.
According to his blurb, author Ronald Schulte’s work has appeared in The Literary Hatchet, Bewildering Stories, and Fiction on the Web. He lives in upstate New York, my old haunt.
Title: “Mourning Melanie”
Author: Ronald Schulte
First published: Theme of Absence, November 24, 2018
The story can be read here