“What the hell are you talking about?!” And off she went again on another one of her rants. He sighed, not too passionately or it might just give her more incentive to raise her voice even louder. So far none of the people riding the subway with them were staring. Yet.
“All I’m saying is that Ella wasn’t the one who decided this. So cut her some slack. She has feelings, too, you know,” he said, trying to keep the accusation in his voice down to a minimum. He really couldn’t blame her for getting angry about this. But her anger had a tendency of drowning out everybody else’s needs. Mostly his. Maybe that was because he never got angry at anything. Not even when it would probably be the healthiest thing to do, for him and everyone around him. There always just seemed to be too many other feelings to consider, too many other people getting angry, or sad, or disappointed that there was no time left for him to do so. In those kind of situations she would get angry on his behalf. And then at him, for not getting angry himself.
“I’m very much aware of the fact that Ella has feelings,” she brought out through gritted teeth. Good. She was making an effort to reign in the fire inside of her.
“Still, that was MY grandmother’s necklace. I should have gotten it, not fucking Ella!” She spat out Ella’s name like a bad taste in her mouth, a sour look on her face. The elderly lady sitting on his right stared wide-eyed at her last words. He smiled at her apologetically, but the old lady was already moving to another seat at the other end of the cart. He sighed.
“Ella is your brother’s wife, even if not by blood, she is technically also your grandmother’s granddaughter,” he said. Damn. Wrong thing to say. He could tell that she was livid now. He needed to shut her down, and quickly, before she gave in to her temper, after all.
“Besides, you haven’t worn any jewelry in over a decade, so who cares about that necklace. It’s not like you’d ever put it on or anything. Let Ella have it, at least she can make use of it.” That had been a cheap shot, he knew. He also knew that he had hurt her with that, but at least it had drained her of most of her uncontrollable anger.
“I just wanted something to remember her by…” It broke his heart to hear the pain in her suddenly quiet voice. He stared down at his shoes. They passed two subway stops in silence before she spoke again.
“She used to wear that necklace all the time.” She closed her eyes as she spoke and took a slow, deep breath.
“When I think of Gran, I think of that necklace. And the smell of lemons. I don’t know why, but she always smelled like fresh lemons.” Her eyes still closed, she slowly lifted both her arms, bringing her fingertips together in an arch over her head.
“She bought me my first ballerina outfit when I was 10,” she said. He smiled at the recollection of her and Gran dancing together, the afternoon they had spent pretending to perform Swan Lake for a vivid and excited crowd that cheered them on. Until her mother had come to pick him up. And he shuddered at the memory of how his mother had reacted when she’d seen the ballerina outfit. How his mother and Gran had gotten into a huge fight about it, and how he’d barely seen Gran a handful of times since that afternoon 12 years ago. How he’d shut her up inside of him, together with the memory of the ballerina outfit.
She began to speak in a quiet voice as the silent tears cascaded down her cheeks, “This is my stop.”
Context for this piece: Each day of this new year I will be setting aside about half an hour to write a short text, any kind of text. I will use four random prompts generated by an app called Writing Challenge, with five minutes of writing dedicated to each prompt, bringing it up to a total of 20 minutes of writing for each text.
The prompts are marked in bold letters and a full list can be found here:
- Start with a dialogue that begins with the words “What are you talking about?”
- Include a necklace in the plot
- Include the word “ballerina”
- Begin the last sentence of the story with “She began to speak in a quiet voice”