#69 Grief Measured

by Chelsea Resnick

The foyer, stacked in crisp color quadrants—a pair of yellow chairs, a cobalt handrail, and a bushel of too-green leaves whooshing from terra cotta—made Nate’s skin feel gray, not that of a tanned fourteen-year-old who enjoyed soccer and Ultimate Frisbee.

His mom had chosen his outfit: a starched button-down with blue necktie à la mode. Before, when the family was out to lunch, he’d held an onion ring to one eye and peered across the table at his older sister. “Hellooooo, I’m Mr. Peanut,” he’d said in his most aristocratic tone. Caitlyn had blinked, eyes fierce and dewy. “God! Could you stop being such a child for once, Nate?” To which he’d shrugged. Lowered the onion ring and dunked it in the barbeque sauce at his wrist. Their parents hadn’t appeared to notice a squabble.

But now, as Grandmother’s foyer incased him garish blocks of color, Nate’s fists clenched. His mom ventured wordlessly into the kitchen to warm the old kettle for tea while Caitlyn and their dad tromped up the moaning staircase. In their wake, Nate heard birds pecking at a Styrofoam wreath on the door. The room’s sudden hush warbled beneath his skin.

“Do you even care that she’s dying?” Caitlyn had asked that morning.

Swallowing, he walked toward a vase of mums perched on a console. Maybe they needed fresh water? His fingers uncurled against a pale pink petal before lurching back. Because, of course, the flowers were silk. And always had been.


Deb said...

I think you did an excellent job of showing that although people experience and express grief in different ways, it doesn't mean they don't care. I really felt for the boy.

Chelsea Resnick said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Deb. I'm really grateful to hear that the protagonist's experience resonated with you.