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Write on Wednesdays: The Saddest Thing I Ever Heard...

Write On Wednesdays

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 25 - I heard a song on the radio during the week and I thought the lyrics would make an interesting prompt for WoW. So, write the words "The saddest thing I ever heard" on your page, set your timer for 5 minutes and write the first words that come into your head based on the given prompt.

I will be interested to see where this prompt takes you all!

As soon as I read this week's prompt, I knew what I would write about. I had actually just finished telling the GOM this story. It is a true story, though for the purposes of discretion I will change the character descriptions to conceal identities...

Prompt: The saddest thing I ever heard.

Mavis stood stooped and overwhelmed in the middle of her bedroom as Tracy sorted through her belongings in a vain attempt of culling them before the 'big move' to the aged care facility. The two piles on the floor; one for keeping and one for dispensing with were as disproportionate as they could be while still maintaining two piles. The dispensing with pile contain one solitary item; a broken coat hanger.

Tracey sighed heavily, 'Okay, what about this then?' she said holding up a dusty old navy overcoat from she had retrieved from the back of the wardrobe. 'Surely, you have no use for this any longer. It's many decades out of style - look at these shoulder pads, it must be from the forties. And, look, it's miles to big for you.' Tracy compared the overcoat to Mavis' petite, hunched frame.

'Oh dear, no, I can't get rid of that. That coat is the house.'

'The house?'

'It's my mother's house. Well, all that is left of it.'

Tracy saw the glisten of tears in the corners of Mavis' eyes. Obviously, this coat meant a lot to her, but Tracy didn't want to pry, so she put the coat back into the wardrobe reluctantly and reached for a faded floral dress.

'Before I was born and my parents were newly weds, my mother saw an opportunity to buy a house and land package that would appreciate in value over the years and set our family up for a secure future. The problem was that mother and father didn't have the money. So, mother suggested to my father that he ask his parents for a loan. He refused. My mother was not a person who was easily put of good deals, so she went to my grandmother herself. My grandmother turned her down and told my father what she had asked for. My father gave my mother a sound thrashing for going behind his back and embarrassing him.'

Tracy quietly moved to sit on the edge of the bed while Mavis continued with her story.

'Many years later my mother was in an accident and received compensation for her injuries. She wanted to buy a house with the money, but my father was nervous about such a large commitment. He wavered on signing the contract until eventually the house was sold to another interested party. So, mum took some of the money and went on a holiday with a friend to the north coast. While away, my father decided her holiday destination would be a great place for them to make a fresh start and so he packed up all our belonging and called her and said he'd given notice on our house.

'Determined not to see the newly acquired nest egg petered away, mother hurriedly found and bought a house in the town she was holidaying in and when my father arrived with our things, they moved into the house.'

Mavis stopped talking at this point and wandered over the window on the far side of the room. Tracy wondered if Mavis had decided against finishing the story. She held her breath not wanting to disturb the old woman's thoughts in case she changed the subject. Mavis stared out the window in silence for many long moments.

'The following summer my father went to war and never came back.' Mavis' voice was barely a whisper. 'My mother could not afford to keep the house, but no one else could afford to buy it either. It fell into disrepair and stood empty while we went to live with aunty Livvy. At the end of the war the town council bought the house from my mother for redevelopment, but the money they gave her was only enough to clear a few debts and...' Mavis went over to the wardrobe and pulled out the long navy coat with the oversized shoulder pads and faded buttons. She laid it on the bed. 'I was turning sixteen that year and all my friends had beautiful coats. I cried because we never seemed to have money for all the lovely things my friends had. On my sixteenth birthday my mother presented me with this coat. She had bought it on sale with the last of the money from the house.'

Tracy stroked the sleeve of the coat that was this woman's mother's house and let the tears flow freely.


Jayne said…
Wow, so vivid & unsettling. Poor Mavis. I was really disturbed reading the bit about the violent father 'thrashing' the mother-made me feel like throwing up. I can see why she could never part with the last thing that tied her to her poor mother's precious house!
InkPaperPen said…
What a story! It was so sad, I felt for Mavis and her mother so much. Many of us have gone with "real" stories this week and it's definitely giving me some perspective. Thanks for sharing this with us, Sif

Maryl Holiday said…
Oh, my! What a sad story! It is too bad such thing happen! The faith is in this story, I can see it, the coat and the money from the house. Everything happens for a reason!
Sif said…
Thanks guys, I'm glad you all found it sad. Gill, I think true sad stories resonate because the writer is recounting a story that already has already caused them to feel sad and that emotion translates through the words...
Sarah Mac said…
An incredibly moving story told beautifully as always.
Beautiful and sad. Great piece!
Anonymous said…
Oh Sif, I agree with your comment wholeheartedly. Actual emotion that has alrady caused feeling does translate well through words. This is a great piece, sad and beautiful and wonderful.
Anonymous said…
*already, even.
I like that you've written this sad story as a conversation. It brings in both the characters as well as the "story" itself - a story within a story!
(who has not managed to write this week, but is reading!)
mi2 said…
What a lovely, heartwrenching story! This was remincent to me of "The Shell Seekers" by Rosamund Pilcher. It had that same sense of bittersweet nostalgia. Wonderful!

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