Sunday Snapshot: Always

This is my late husband’s room. He slept poorly, so he partitioned off a part of the family room and made himself a nook, so he could sit up and read and still be cozy. He passed away in 2020 of pneumonia. You can see the quilt #2 Daughter made for him. Yes, his medicated powder is still on the clock stand. Yes, his hat is still on the bookcase. Yes, his trousers are still hung on a hook just inside the door. The sign you can glimpse says: No Justice, No Peace; Know Justice, Know Peace. The last place he went besides the hospital was a Black Lives Matter rally.

Is is morbid to keep his room as he left it, his books on the shelves, his clothes in the closet? I really don’t give a flying fuck. Just sayin’.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Someone grieves at their own pace.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Sunday Snapshot: Always

  1. Dan Antion

    March 20, 2022 at 12:14pm

    Work your way through this process at your own pace. No one can judge.

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  2. Michael Hodges

    March 20, 2022 at 12:35pm

    How marvelous — and I truly mean that word in all its precious wonder — to not give a flying fuck with regard to how this may look to anyone else, whether some actual person stopping by who perhaps makes mention, or some 3rd party whose existence is naught more than the fleeting sense of concern we have when such thoughts cross our minds!

    A marvelous fuck indeed, Marian!

    You, sir! Take that fuck you’ve endeavor’d to foist upon me and seek the heav’nly expanse just beyond yon cliff, celestial footing for you, surely!
    And you, madam — truly, take hold of thy down-the-nose fuck and sooth, walk east together ’til thine hat doth float most errantly ‘pon the waves!

    Gaze, all, upon the field where mine fucks do grow and see how it doth lie barren! Alas, an for I have no fucks to give!

    (If the HTML fails me in what’s above, forgive how it looks. I swear I’ve managed italics and bolds here before, but forgotten the means. Meh, life goes on.)

    Mourning at one’s own pace is necessary, but for all that we apply patience at the beginning of the process it seems far too often we begin to catch others glancing down at emotional wristwatches because they’re late for something else. The icy patch where Time stands frozen for all wears thin for some. For them spring comes sooner, and when Pinkerton does not return they go forth to seek other fortunes.

    Some of us pine at the window a tad longer, pondering less the cherry blossoms, more other hands and faces (or paws) which those blossoms once kissed. We need not end tragically, as Cio-Cio; but our gazes yet linger upon past love, for reasons of our own.

    Whatever they may be.
    And it’s nobody’s fucking business.

    When I was young I was at a country auction with my father, the kind where belongings are placed on wagons to be picked over like bones. Quilts for some, pots and pans gone through and placed according to perceived value — Now look here, this is some fi-i-iii-ine cast iron cookware, you don’t see this kind of quality no more, now whatta ya gimme-gimme-five, gimme five do I hear five – FIVE, now ten ten ten, doobity-da-watta, gimme TEN! . . .

    Quilts vanish quickly. Other bedclothes are generally discarded, so much trash, not even another person’s treasure.

    Cast iron fetches a price. Even in the 80s people hovered, hoping to snag that ONE corn-shaped pan for cornbread, willing to buy a small lot for the piece. To the sides sit boxes of other, more ordinary pieces of cookware, some coveted, many unwept and unsung, placed as part of Lots in order to get folks to haul away a chunk of Great American Waste.

    And books. So often just boxes of books, scattered rudely, harshly into boxes without even bothering to stack.

    “There’s some boxes with books over there,” the Old Man said to me. “I know you read books [he did not], maybe see if there’s something over there you might want. If you’ve got the money, maybe you can buy that stuff. I’m not wasting money on it, but you might.” He looked around, indicating the books with his hand. “It’s sad, if you think about it. We gather all this JUNK and then we die and somebody else has to deal with it, clean it all up and carry it away to the trash. That’s all our lives amount to.”

    I looked in those boxes. I was a teenager, and my only relief from the cruel world in which I lived was fiction, and walks in Nature. Maybe there would be something in those books, something worth having.

    There was, as it turned out.

    There were several musty volumes on Basic Electricity, a couple of volumes on Chemistry, and a few volumes in a foreign language I couldn’t recognize. Lots of very old and musty-smelling cookbooks, and several magazines such as early-edition Popular Mechanics. Also, some books on Sailing.

    In the backwaters of Grayson County, Kentucky, down a dusty road that was a mixture of gravel and dirt and knobby, determined maple root (not to mention the occasional jolting pothole where cracked mud yet lingered), a teenage boy was disappointed he found no paperbacks of old science fiction, no fantasies, no dramatic works.

    I walked back over to my father.

    “Did you find anything?” he asked. I replied that I hadn’t. “Yep, our lives just come to trash nobody else wants,” he reiterated before saying “There’s a bunch of those old blue Mason jars over there, you don’t see those anymore. I’m going to see if I can get some.”

    But I’d stopped listening, because he’d shown me what I couldn’t see (and neither could he) in the boxes:

    Someone else’s life. That was what was in the boxes, at least some of it. A memory, a whisper, a wink, a story.

    I suddenly wondered how a person in this location had books on sailing, on parts of the sciences, and what that foreign language might be, how it came to rest on the shelves of a Kentucky country road. It was my first glimpse into the-Other-Side-of-the-Bookshelf.

    As the years passed for me, I came to understand that my father could take that trash opinion and take a dauntingly long walk off a perilously short pier, for there were lives contained on all those auction wagons. Even if not everybody could see the ghosts that walked thereby.

    I have come to find comfort in my sprawling shelves of books. Some I have not touched in years, though I encourage Luke to try them. “One day I’ll die,” I told him, “and you’ll have to deal with these. Sorry, but also NOT sorry. Perhaps you’ll keep them, and perhaps you won’t; but for now, you at least have access to them.”

    My books are not the books of a dead man, but someday they shall be. Much like the hat and powder of a dead man who is, quite simply, not dead. He was, is, and remains yours for so long as you shall live, and howsoever that hat may look to someone else.

    And the others were forced to go empty-handed, for nary a fuck was given on that day.

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  3. acflory

    March 20, 2022 at 5:12pm

    I wish you weren’t on the other side of the world. Sending digital hugs.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      March 21, 2022 at 9:25am

      Hugs of all kinds accepted, appreciated, and returned with interest. <3 🙂

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      • acflory

        March 21, 2022 at 6:42pm

        Thank you. 🙂 Getting hugs back is really nice too.

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