Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cleaning Day

Write at the Merge; Week 14

image courtesy of Thor Carlson (via Flickr Creative Commons)The Prompts:  This week, one of your offerings is the phrase “cellar door”. “Cellar door” is considered a perfectly euphonic phrase, some say the most beautiful in the English language.
I first heard it expressed as so in the film Donnie Darko, which led me to the following image for the other half of the prompt.

Mary worked the padlock free and pulled the cellar door open.  She'd put this off long enough.  Duke raced down the stairs, plumed tail waving, as she hunted for the light switch.

She could hear the dog snuffling below as she flipped the lights on and descended the wooden steps.  when she reached the floor, she saw Duke had made himself comfortable on an old blanket laying next to John's work table.

"You spent a lot of time down here with him, didn't you, boy."  Mary began sorting through the bits and pieces littering the table.  John had loved his model planes.  There were wings, wheels, and tiny rudders.  his tools had been miniature versions of  everyday tools.

From the floor beams that made up the ceiling hung dozens of completed models.  She gently tapped a propeller and set it spinning.

John had brought his son from his first marriage down here every other weekend until the boy had grown into a young man.  They'd spend hours together, John, the boy, and the dog.  Mary smiled sadly at the memory.  She knew she couldn't just throw everything out, John had taken such care with his hobby.

She pulled her cell phone from her back pocket, quickly tapping through her contacts, she hit dial.  John Junior's wife answered, Mary took a breath, "Hi, Elise?  This is Mary, John's step..."

"Mary!  Oh my gosh, how are you?  It's so good to hear from you!" Elise gushed, then Mary heard her muffled voice as she covered the phone, "Johnny, John!  It's Mary...yes, Mary!"

"Mary?  It's John, how are you doing?  I'm so sorry I haven't stopped by, I just..."

Mary finally spoke, "I'm doing okay, John.  And I understand, I never expected a visit."  She took a breath, "But, I could really use a favor right now."

"Of course, Mary, how can I help?"

"Well, I'm trying to clean up the cellar, and I honestly don't know what to do with your Dad's planes."  Mary continued, "I don't want to throw them out.  Are you interested in them, or know someone?"

"Wow, Dad's planes."  Johnny hesitated, "I would love to have them, but, Mary?"

She waited for the rebuff, "It's okay, if..."

"Mary, could Elise and the boys and I, if it's okay, all come over and help you with them?  The boys always loved playing with Duke.  He's doing okay, isn't he?"

Mary laughed, the first good laugh in more than a year. "Duke is doing great, and I would love for all of you to come by.  Any time."

Duke lay on the floor at her feet, one ear cocked, his tail thumping as though giving his approval.


  1. I hope she accepts their friendship and lets them fill part of that empty space left by her husband's death. I think you did a beautiful job with this, showing how uncertain she is about her place in her stepson's life.

  2. I think that when a death happens, it sets everyone at odds with how to behave, or what to say, or anything at all. You've captured that perfectly here, that "Should I?" question mark that everyone suddenly feels. Bravo!

  3. This is a lovely story, uncertain reach out, eagerly accepted. You captured a beautiful moment.
    Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

  4. I read this, and loved it, because I could relate. Years ago, I helped my husband's family clean out his grandfather's house after he died. We were newly married and I remember not knowing to what extent I fit in. It was a very personal time. My husband's mom presented me with some family heirlooms and made me feel truly like part of the family.

    Well done, Renee!

  5. This story has a real presence, fine details, realistic dialogue, so real and touching

  6. I love how you portrayed the awkwardness that comes when people who became a family (instead of being born to it) lose the person who was the "key."

    Tiny crit: lying not laying

  7. I love Duke and Mary, and I'm glad for them that she reached out.