Aunt Ingrid

I hate funeral homes and all of the fake sympathies that go with them.  They give you a chance to see the relatives you never see any other time because of some family feud which usually stemmed from something stupid.  Yet, the feud rages on.  Childhood cousins who built forts in the barn loft and fought-off imaginary monsters become something more than enemies.  Common enemies take pot-shots in the dark at you hoping to get lucky.  Family knows the location of every chink in your armor.  That’s all we are, really.  We’re little kids in adult bodies building forts out of bricks rather than hay bales but I digress.  I hug and kiss the aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and strangers that come by to pay respects to my dear Aunt Ingrid.  She was my favorite aunt of the four I have.  Rather, of the four I had, she was my favorite.

Aunt Ingrid had been alone, so to speak, for awhile since Uncle Charlie’s death.  I grew-up so close to her, more like a cousin.  We used to sled ride down Schank Hill all winter.  It was huge!  I swear you hit 100 going down that thing.  Uncle Charlie wasn’t in the picture yet.  It was always just me and Aunt Ingrid…and whatever high school guys were sledding.  Actually, I remember them pulling our sled to the top of the hill.  Even bundled-up in a parka she got plenty of attention.  I’m not going to lie…I grew up with a bit of a crush on Aunt Ingrid that was half childhood innocence and half something else.  Hell, she was only fourteen years older than me and made the best PB&J on Earth.  A kid has to have priorities.

Once into my teens, I didn’t see her much.  She’d married Uncle Charlie who took a job out of state and my buddy with him.  I stopped playing backgammon, scrabble, monopoly and all the other games we used to play on boring Sundays.  Nobody wanted to play and they’re not really games you could play by yourself.  We didn’t have tablets or iPhones then.  If you didn’t have someone to play with, you played with yourself…well, you know what I mean.

I remember Ingrid came home alone one Christmas when I was around twenty.  By that point I’d dropped the formal “Aunt”.  She seemed much different…older…hollow.  She drove a new Cadillac but it was a pigsty inside.  Nothing like her immaculate Firebird she used to pick me up in.  She showed pictures of their European vacation, their cruise, and their new home.  I just thought she seemed pretty miserable through it all.

Ingrid’s visits became more frequent and longer.  Mom finally told me that Ingrid and Charlie were having troubles and had been for awhile.  That’s all I got.  Ingrid stayed in bed a lot, drank a lot, and one day she was gone.

“Moved back against my advice,” Mom had said.

Months later, Mom got the call in the middle of the night.  Ingrid, catching Charlie with a secretary, shot both of them.  A country girl, she was always a good shot with a rifle so a handgun at close range probably wasn’t a stretch.  Prison half a country away was pretty much solitary confinement.  Some of us race the clock to get everything finished in our day and always carry something over to the next.  Others, like Ingrid, had nothing but time in a strange land with no friends or family.

My walk down memory lane is interrupted by Dave Siebert who shuffled-up next to me.  Dave had never really amounted to much in my eyes.  He worked in town at the same job he’d had forever and scraped-out enough money to pay the property taxes on the inherited house he’d lived in all his life.  He stood next to me openly sobbing, hugged my Mom, my sister, and me then walked out.

“Odd much?” I said aloud.

Mom snapped her head around to me, “He and Ingrid dated in high school.  He was head over heels and always has been.  He wrote to Ingrid every week and flew-out to visit her each month in prison.  She was his one and only love.  Charlie’s money meant lots of material things but he never loved her.  It made her an alcoholic, a murderer, and, in her eyes only, an embarrassment to us.  Passing on Dave Siebert…it was the only thing she regretted.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks.


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Aunt Ingrid — 26 Comments

  1. “Walk down memory lane” for some reason, that line struck me like an American fist. Amazing write. Great descriptions, great voice. It’s tough to handle over three characters under 750 words. Congrats for that too.
    Oh, and welcome to the SpeakEasy!

    • Thanks for the great comments and thanks for reading! I was just chatting with a friend this morning that I noticed the word count had crept over 1,000 and I hadn’t started wrapping it up yet (yikes). So I finished and grabbed the red editing pen….slash…slash…tweak. ha ha!! So far I really like this format! Loved your futuristic story as well!

      • Haha, the red ninja pen of death! Yea I get the feeling. My record is 1400. I had to flat out delete a paragraph! It’s a lot of fun though. The community is great too. I’m actually relatively new too (2months now, I think), and really enjoying it! You may have joined in on the wrong week though… YeahWrite is going to summer/boot camp. If you want, come hang out! I assume the whole thing will go back to normal by late August. If anything, ask an editor.

  2. I feel sad for Ingrid. My stories don’t often reflect it, but I think everyone deserves a chance at true love. How different her life might have been if she chose Dave…

    One note, though – in the last long paragraph that begins, “Mom snapped her hear around …” – should ‘hear’ be ‘head’?

    • Thank you! Yes, things aren’t always what they seem for poor Ingrid. Everything comes at a price.

      (thanks for the editor-catch too! I need to correct that!)

  3. This story illustrates so well a concept that I have been thinking a lot about lately. How we know so little about people, even those close to us have secrets and although those secrets are seldom intentional, they are secrets nevertheless. Often unknown to us only because we haven’t been paying attention. I enjoyed it very much!

    • Thanks for the comment and for reading! So often we get caught-up in the minutia of ourselves that we miss what’s happening to our loved ones. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Nicely done! You have a great narration voice and the story moved along at a steady clip. The internal observations are like little jewels. Really enjoyed this, Jesse.

  5. I love the voice in this piece, it feels so real, like you are actually telling me that story out loud. I also really liked the little bit about the family feud. There’s a bit of a feud going on in my family at the moment (don’t we all have that issue) and the way you described it hits the nail on the head!

  6. Your narrator’s voice is awesome, and pulled me along through the whole story. It felt natural but still packed in so many great descriptions. Glad you decided to join in with the Speakeasy – this was a good read!

  7. WOW, Just wow. I loved how you drew me in. How real your story seemed and I simply loved the twist at the end. I loved how you alluded to the family feuds that I have in my own family. How you never hear squat from these folks but let someone die and out of the woodwork they come! This was phenomenal. ♥

    • I think everyone can relate to the “family” thing and if they can’t, there’s probably more under the surface than we have to deal with. Thanks for reading!!

  8. So nice to see you at the speakeasy, Jesse! And such a wonderful, poignant story too. I feel so bad for Ingrid (and for everyone out there with a life like hers). But I love your narrator’s voice – it took me right into his world and made the loss feel more real. Well done! 🙂

    • Thanks Suzanne 🙂 I think I’ll hang around here – I hear there are summer workshops/boot camps? I’m between semesters and would love to work on my writing. Sounds like the perfect thing! Thanks for the wonderful comments – they mean the world 🙂

  9. The voice and the POV choice enhanced this already-interesting story. Seeing someone fall from a younger perspective added an element of fear to grow up. Really well done!

    • Thank you! I almost went from Ingrid’s POV from beyond during the showing/wake/whatever you call it where you live. I couldn’t make the prompt work smoothly. Thanks for reading & commenting! 🙂

  10. I was impressed with how you managed to give Aunt Ingrid’s character and history such depth, allowed us to see her from so many angles, in 750 words. It gave the story a naturalistic feel, which I liked a lot. Plus there was an important moral attached – never cheat on country girls who have access to firearms!

    • Trust me, those are words to live by 🙂 Thanks for the great comments. Ingrid was fun to work with in this piece. A loose amalgamation of people I’ve known.
      Thanks for reading!

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