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Curtain Call

November 27, 2012

Death:  the absence of life, or the space between where one life ends and another begins?

I sat in the front row, black veil over my face.  The cedar box containing the remnants of fifty-three years of marriage sat in front of me.  I had thought about this day often and wondered how I would feel.  It’s like I always knew he’d go first.

The epitome of propriety, I dressed in black.  No one knew my undergarments were red.  He kept his secrets; this would be mine.  I bowed my head as well-meaning mourners offered their condolences.  “God rest his soul,” I shook my head and muttered to each one; the words sounding hollow even to my own ears.

I always wondered how I’d feel when his lies were silenced.  Now I knew.  Mostly, I felt relieved.  Dare I admit, happy.  I satisfied my vow before God.  His ways turned my heart bitter, but I stayed until the glorious day death parted us and unshackled my soul.

The preacher read his blessing and I heard choked sobs behind me. I doubted the words of a pious man would be enough to spare him his destiny.  I dabbed my eyes with a tissue and balled it up in my fist to hide the fact it remained dry.

His mistress then spoke of her admiration for my husband’s character and his 23 years in Congress.  Her red-rimmed eyes and strained voice betrayed feelings deeper than admiration.  I shed my tears long ago.  Let her cry for him now.

I stole a glance at my watch.  Soon, the curtain would fall on my final performance as the loving, obedient wife.

Forty-eight minutes until my first tango lesson.


This is my entry in the Trifecta challenge this week.  The challenge is to write a 33 to 333 word response using the following word/definition:

HOLLOW (adjective):  lacking in real value, sincerity, or substance : false,meaningless <hollow promises> <a victory over a weakling is hollow and without triumph — Ernest Beaglehole>

If you’d like to write your own response to the challenge, check out Trifecta’s site by clicking on the tricycle picture for complete instructions.

46 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2012 6:58 AM

    Hollow indeed! A wonderful response to the prompt as usual, Janna. :-)

  2. November 27, 2012 8:49 AM

    53 years! Though I was glad for her freedom, for the satisfaction of her principles I was sad that her life too had been as hollow as it was. Great writing as usual, Janna.

    • November 28, 2012 12:36 AM

      Yes, 53 years is a long time, but she’ll get to tango in peace now :) Thanks for taking time to read the story and share your thoughts, Jennifer!

  3. November 27, 2012 9:23 AM

    terrific response to the prompt; way to go!

  4. November 27, 2012 9:28 AM

    Wonderfully written…
    53 years would be a long time to be stuck in such a marriage.

    • November 28, 2012 12:38 AM

      Thanks for reading, Snhnair. I couldn’t imagine spending 53 years like that, but I’m sure she’ll find her happiness.

  5. November 27, 2012 9:33 AM

    LOVE this! Poor widow, putting up with this man’s antics for 53 years. I’d say she’s entitled to wear red underwear and anticipate a tango lesson! You’ve nailed this challenge, Janna!

    • November 28, 2012 12:40 AM

      Thanks, Debbie. I don’t know if I could ‘stand by my man’ if he was running around on me. On the surface, it might seem heartless that she’s thinking of her tango lesson at her husband’s funeral, but she had to shut down to survive.

  6. November 27, 2012 10:11 AM

    This is absolutely perfect. Loved the ending. Loved the red underwear.

    • November 28, 2012 12:41 AM

      Thanks, Kelly! I’m glad you liked the story. I do appreciate you stopping by to read it.

  7. November 27, 2012 11:21 AM

    I love this! Now its her time!

  8. November 27, 2012 12:58 PM

    A post filled with sauce and salsa, Janna. :D

  9. November 27, 2012 4:22 PM

    Excellent piece of writing, as always. Red underwear, tango lessons? Both should fill the hollow of her life.

    • November 28, 2012 12:43 AM

      Thanks, Diane. I’m glad you liked the story. Yes, I would think red underwear and tango will go a long way to softening her bitterness. I appreciate you reading it and sharing your thoughts!

  10. November 28, 2012 1:30 AM

    … with a hot young virile teacher!

    • November 28, 2012 9:47 PM

      Oh boy, the story just got hotter. Cha-cha-cha! :lol: Thanks for making me smile, Widdershins!

  11. November 28, 2012 8:59 AM

    I loved the 23 years in Congress! Like a rim shot. Red undergarments and tango lessons – good for her. And on top of the content – so well written.

    • November 28, 2012 9:51 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Stephanie! Glad you liked the Congress part. I almost made his mistress Speaker of the House, but decided that was too much :)

  12. Draug419 permalink
    November 28, 2012 9:14 AM

    Ha! I love it! The breaking of the shackles with a new life (:

    • November 28, 2012 9:56 PM

      Better watch out of the dancing granny, Draug. She’s waited a long time to be free :)

  13. November 28, 2012 3:31 PM

    Brilliant! I absolutely love this ending (and the red underwear!) :D

    • November 28, 2012 9:59 PM

      I’m glad you liked it, Dianne. I was actually a bit surprised with the red undergarments. As I wrote it, I thought Why? What am I going to do with that?!

  14. November 28, 2012 5:16 PM

    As a widow after sixteen years and now remarried for almost that long , I loved it. Although it took a lot longer for me to enjoy anything much less red underwear or tango lessons. I think I cried for three years.

    That was all a long time ago. Now I’m remarried to my dream come true. But like I said, it was along time before I could dream.

    Loved it. :)

    • November 28, 2012 10:04 PM

      Clar, I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m glad you found a happy ending! I’m sure if he had treated her better, the lady in the story would’ve mourned his death as well. I think she gave up long before his death.

      Thanks for stopping by to read this, and for sharing a bit of your story!

  15. Gina permalink
    November 28, 2012 5:32 PM

    I wish she didn’t have to wait 53 years for “her” time but she was the loyal wife to a cad, or worse. Love her red undies and tango lessons. Give her that darn Oscar! Great story.

    • November 28, 2012 10:13 PM

      Hehehe…it is an Oscar-worthy performance indeed, Gina. She was oppressed for many years so she’ll enjoy her freedom :)

  16. November 28, 2012 6:30 PM

    Wow, this is fantastic, and the red panties were a nice touch :) (It’s not often I get to type that out in a comment, lol)

    • November 28, 2012 10:15 PM

      Ha! I imagine not, Lori! (It’s not often that I write about red panties, so I guess we’re even :shock:) Thanks so much for stopping by to read the story.

  17. November 28, 2012 8:43 PM

    Great story Jenna! I was sitting on the edge the whole time. I love how you describe her red underwear. Fresh, yet thrilling. Good work.

    • November 28, 2012 10:16 PM

      I appreciate you nice comment, Papparaci. I’m glad you enjoyed the story!

  18. November 29, 2012 5:26 AM

    What a life-affirming, red-pantied, tangoing granny!

  19. November 29, 2012 11:16 AM

    wonderfully written. from the red undergarment to the tango lesson, really describes her well..

  20. November 30, 2012 3:02 AM

    Well done! I especially love the hope of a new day and a new dance, one of her choosing after so many years O’s suppression. Great story, skillful storytelling and fascinatingly punctuated with believable little details.

    • November 30, 2012 9:00 PM

      Thanks, Joanne! I’m glad you stopped by to read the story and enjoyed it :)

  21. November 30, 2012 6:38 AM

    You nailed this!

    • November 30, 2012 9:00 PM

      Thanks, Rebelle – I’m glad you think I got it right :) I appreciate you stopping by.

  22. November 30, 2012 10:40 PM

    Tango lesson! Love it.

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