For this author, creative endeavors have been sorely tested by motherhood. But also transformed, and in ways she wouldn’t have imagined – couldn’t have, without her life “rewritten” as it has been, by her children. So linger here, to read all things weaverly, writerly and motherly.


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Friday, May 18, 2012

The Writer's Post Blog Hop: The Last Straw

Every afternoon, the new neighbor's old greying retriever would mosey across Marge's front lawn, do its business, then nudge her garbage pails to knock out microwaveable dinner containers. Since she didn't cook much anymore, there were a lot of those, and he licked them clean.

"Why don't you go talk to them about the dog?" her daughter would say on her weekly phone calls. "There are leash laws, you know."

Marge didn't know why she didn't, except with so many new folk replacing the older generation on her street, she felt a stranger in her own neighborhood.

And this latest new family had moved into Ted's old house. Before he died, he'd been tethered to an oxygen machine and Marge would go over daily to tidy up his kitchen, and collect eggs from the chicken coop. Back when both their own kids were growing up, Ted's chickens had been a welcomed novelty on the suburban street. More so than now, when a backyard jacuzzi was more the rage. After Ted died, his kids sold the chickens and tore down the shed to prepare the house for sale.

But one day, as the old dog was moseying back home, he detoured off Marge's lawn into her brilliant flock of Montauk daisies.

That was the last straw. With her cane, she carefully made her way across the street.

There were trucks out front, and she could hear hammering.

A harried mother opened the door, a screaming baby on her hip. Yes?"

"I'm from across the street."

She nodded, though the hammering in the background was so loud, Marge didn't think she could hear her.

"Your DOG!" Marge yelled. "Your dog keeps running into my yard."

"Yes, I let him out once in a while."

"He does his business on my lawn, then..."

"I'm sorry," she said, cupping her ear, then nodding toward the noise in the background. "They're ripping out the kitchen."

The kitchen? Ted had built those cabinets himself fifty years ago. He was the one her husband had learned woodworking skills from, for all the birdhouses he built.

"What was wrong with the kitchen?" Marge asked.

"I'm sorry?" the mother said, as if she'd been asked something so personal, it was insulting. "It needed updating."


Marge leaned both hands on her cane."There are leash laws."

"He's very old."

"He destroyed my daisies."

The crying child stopped crying. He seemed suddenly fascinated by the old lady standing on their stoop.

"He could get hit by a car," Marge said.

The mother nodded. "He has kidney cancer. He's dying." Her eyes welled up a bit. "He won't hurt you."

"That's not..." But now that Marge knew the dog was dying, her daisies, the poop and garbage seemed petulant.

She gestured toward the squirming child. "I'll let you go."

The mother looked as if she was going to burst out crying. But not from the dog. From being overwhelmed. By perhaps all she'd taken on too soon to make her life too perfect. She just shook her head, "I'm sorry."

Marge remembered that. The baby years. The nesting. The longing for a perfection that never materlialized. Even back then, with her own newly renovated formica kitchen.

The dog stopped coming by a few weeks later. Marge almost missed him.

Until a chicken showed up in her yard. Leona. She'd been Ted's favorite.



Libby said...

Aw... I really like this. Really well crafted. A good story, well told!

Kathy said...

I loved this story and how you put the spin on it where it was Marge's last straw and she went to raise hell and the poor lady in question was on her last straw. I love the way you write and the stories you tell. They are always so good!!


Jenn said...

I love how you played out this week's prompt!! Even moreso-- I love the story you told. Sometimes we forget we are not the only ones drawing the last straw!! Awesome story!!

Cheers, Jenn

Corinne Rodrigues said...

What a lovely story, Sandra. I love the identification with the woman who longed for perfection - just beautiful.

Lynn Proctor said...

awwww this was so tender and beautiful--i could just see it and in a movie!

Megan Wille said...


Megan @ Just a Little Place to Write

Amy Morgan said...

Loved how this came full circle in the end with the older lady remembering her time just starting out with a family - especially the line about the new formica kitchen. Nice piece of fiction!

Jayne said...

"By perhaps all she'd taken on too soon to make her life too perfect." Ain't that what the suburbs are about.

Sandra, this is a marvelous short short. So much here in one little story. Bravo!

November Rain - k~ said...

Heartwarming. This was a tender story of reality, mixed with that wonderful thing we call emotion.

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