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Tiaras and Trucks

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Gloves

My childhood self half-believed my older brother when he told me Grammy never took off her pearls, not even when she drifted off to sleep in the massive four-poster my grandfather had vacated years before my birth.

Maybe it was true. Like the glasses of tea pooling condensation on her covered porch, Grammy’s pearls were a part of her.

No one saw my Grammy without them. A choker, a double strand, or a traditional single strand tied together everything she wore, the same way my mother went to work daily in her nurse’s scrubs.

No one saw her fling her choker, the necklace with the simplest clasp, against the wall before taking all of her necklaces to her jeweler to be re-strung into a single, too-long rope, but everyone knew it was around the time she started wearing the gloves.

Delicate ivory silk.

Spotless white linen.

Impossibly pale-blue kid leather.

Slate grey suede.

She had a pair to match everything she wore, and I can’t remember seeing her wear the same thing twice, although I must have, since I spent every Sunday after church, in her flawlessly proper world. My brother and my cousins, all boys, played hours of football on the manicured yard. My mother worked an overtime shift at the hospital. I lounged on the porch with Grammy, soaking in her unique fragrance, lavender and tea leaves and a hint of menthol.

Fascinated by her femininity, I studied her hair and her make-up and the way she effortlessly walked in heels even in the softest grass. I valiantly tried to perfect the calm, rolling way that she spoke. I asked for a pair of soft blush pink gloves to wear to church on Sunday.

With my careful attention to her every move, how could I have missed the way she balanced the tea tray almost on her wrists? The way she pushed open the French doors with her forearms? The quick intake of breath as she drew her silver comb through my unruly curls? The tears that glittered silently above her lashes when she slid her own tortoise-shell combs into her hair?

One Sunday, when I was twelve and still learning about discretion, I left a book at Grammy’s. My exhausted mother drove me back up the long driveway and waited in the car with my brother.

I ran breathlessly to the back porch and found Grammy with her hands cupping an empty glass of sweet tea, her gloves carefully discarded next to the pitcher.

Those hands didn’t belong to my grandmother. Couldn’t belong to my grandmother.

Bent and hobbled and curled.

Swollen and knotted and inflamed.

Red and raw and cracked.

Broken.

Swiftly, Grammy folded those hands under the table. In her clumsy haste, she grazed the edge of the wicker table and couldn’t hide her sudden grimace of pain. Shame flooded her eyes, but her gaze remained steady.

With a grace I have yet to replicate, I sank into the chair next to her and kissed her powdered cheek, laying my head on her shoulder. Silently, she placed her naked, damaged hands over mine, where we sat for an eternity, ignoring my mother’s car horn in the driveway.


This is a fictional response to a prompt for The Red Dress Club: write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.
 
Concrit is always welcome here.  I know I have a lot of work to do in my journey to improve as a writer!
 

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50 Comments:

  • At March 11, 2011 at 7:57 AM , Anonymous Kelly G in ATX said...

    I was so touched by this! I thought for a second the gloves might have been to hide the fact that perhaps her husband had walked out on her, but you surprised me. Sneaky ;o) I teared up a little at the end at the image of granddaughter and grandmother sharing that moment of love and ignoring the horn honking. Beautiful!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 8:58 AM , Anonymous Miri said...

    Oh, I love this. The beauty of dignity preserved, how she never sacrificed her graceful femininity even when arthritis overtook her body. Very well done!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:23 AM , Anonymous Ilana @ Mommy Shorts said...

    This is so beautifully detailed and heartfelt that I thought for sure it was non-fiction. It is not only well-written but a perfectly thought out story from beginning to end.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:31 AM , Anonymous Leslie said...

    Wonderfully well written, engaging, beautiful, sad, proud. Loved it.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:34 AM , Anonymous Kir said...

    Oh I really loved this, your writing is so wonderful, I sit and wish for a glass of sweet tea with it. I could see her hands, I could feel her shame and your pity, love, care for her. That's what made this great, the feelings it gave to me.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:43 AM , Anonymous Ratz said...

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:04 AM , Anonymous Amy said...

    Wow. This is so beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM , Anonymous Tracy Morrison said...

    Oh my word - this is breathtaking. I want to see my Grammy again in all of her beautiful imperfections. Sobs.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:20 AM , Anonymous Pepca said...

    This reminded me of my Grandma. Well done!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:27 AM , Anonymous Crystalball1 said...

    oh! this drew me in. I miss my grandma so. I loved my grandma's hands...tough, callused, strong, wrinkled...from years of hard, hard work. I love this! Stopping by from red dress club.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:39 AM , Anonymous Amy said...

    aw - I wanted this to be non-fiction!!! Beautifully written - I felt like that little girl, in awe of her grandmother. This is my favorite post. Well done.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 11:16 AM , Anonymous @libismorgan said...

    I love your writing style, and this story both broke my heart and warmed it.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 2:27 PM , Anonymous Jennie B said...

    The grandmother's sense of pride and dignity really came through here. This was a wonderful take on the prompt.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM , Anonymous Leighann said...

    How completely beautiful.
    To understand your grammas pride.
    To show her love.
    This was perfect.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 3:02 PM , Anonymous GalitBreen said...

    This was beautiful. lovely and heartfelt. I love the way you described grace. I'd add respectful to the list, too. Well done!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 3:59 PM , Anonymous mandyland said...

    This is fiction?! Your words had so much love and pain and memory, I would have sworn it was truth.

    In other words, you knocked it out of the ballpark!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 6:07 PM , Anonymous shellthings said...

    Oh wow. Totally shocked this is fiction!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 6:54 PM , Anonymous Jennifer said...

    I love stories about the hidden things in life both beautiful and not. This piece has a lovely melodic and almost vintage quality to it.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 8:58 PM , Anonymous Angie @ The Little Mumma said...

    I agree with the others - this did not read like fiction at all.

    Incredibly beautiful and heartfelt.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:13 PM , Anonymous Mrs. Jen B said...

    Okay, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was convinced that this was a real memory of yours. Damn. Now that's the mark of great writing. SO amazing! Way to go.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:21 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you so, so much! My grandmas are both lovely, but this definitely isn't an illustration of either of them.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:22 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you! I am glad that it resonated and sounded authentic.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:27 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Vintage...I love that compliment, because it reminds me of the feel I was aiming for with the grandmother.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:28 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Hopefully none of my family members miss that part and get all confused..."I thought her brother was YOUNGER???" :)

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:30 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Oh thank you so much. I wanted it to read like an authentic memory, but was worried it would seem contrived, since it was my character's memory and not mine!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:44 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you. Grace is a quality I admire in others and truly strive for in my own life. If only it were as easy to acquire as it is to write into a character. Sigh...

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:49 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you. It's fiction, although I love and respect both my grandmothers so very much.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:53 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you! I'm working on showing instead of describing, so it means a lot that her personality came through the way I intended.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:53 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thanks for the lovely compliment about my writing style. I didn’t mean to break any hearts today, but I’m glad I redeemed myself in the end!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:54 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you :) I hope my grandmas aren't offended that I wrote so kindly about a created grandmother. My actual grandmothers are very dear to me as well.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    I love how a grandmother's hands don't have to be physically beautiful to be the most tender and caring hands in the world.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:58 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Oh, thank you! I am so lucky to still have both my grandmothers, but I miss my beloved grandfather very much.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 9:58 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you so much!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:00 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you so much! I loved your piece about the little girl in school. Absolutely lovely to see hope amongst despair.

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:01 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you! My own grandmother makes sun tea in her backyard, though she doesn't spend her days in gloves and pearls :)

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:03 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    I wanted the grandmother to carry a sense of pride to be admired and not pitied, so thank you!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:04 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you! I am so glad it came across as authentic. You never know when using the first person in fiction!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    I hope one day to carry myself with that kind of dignity :)

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:06 PM , Anonymous tiarasandtrucks said...

    Thank you. I had a little about the grandfather in the story originally, but it was too long and seemed a good thing to cut. I didn't mean to be sneaky!

     
  • At March 11, 2011 at 10:24 PM , Anonymous Mandy said...

    Wow, this was utterly fantastic. I think you have a lot less work than you may think! Your set up was excellent, the narrative was great, you pulled me in. I had tears in my eyes for Grammy and her proud nature, the truth about her hands.

    As for concrit... I read it through three times and couldn't find anything that I thought was incorrect. In the last paragraph, the word "replicate" doesn't sit well with me - it feels somewhat science-fictioney. I like the sound of "repeat" better... perhaps a different word altogether. BUT! That is a personal preference, and by no means makes your word choice incorrect.

    All in all, masterful work. I'm glad to have read it. :)


    TRDC #75

     
  • At March 12, 2011 at 11:45 AM , Anonymous Brandon said...

    Wow, I was somewhat shocked when I read that this was fiction! Awesome job with that!

    If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be on the lists. The second one works well, but the first with the colors of the various gloves didn't fit well. I couldn't tell you if there is a rule on this, but when I see descriptions as lists, they tend to describe and give emphasis to one particular thing. I had to double take the first one before I caught that there were multiple gloves.

    Other than that, excellent work!

     
  • At March 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you for the suggestion. As I re-read, I absolutely see what you mean and will rework that part a little bit. I want to make it clear that she has several pairs to match everything perfectly, but obviously the list didn't work for that exactly. I appreciate the suggestion!

     
  • At March 12, 2011 at 2:33 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, I'll definitely change it now! If I don't, I will forever think of cloning when I read it, LOL. Thank you so much :)

     
  • At March 12, 2011 at 5:08 PM , Anonymous Jenneethompson said...

    wow, this is great! I was surprised to read that it was fiction. Sounded like a true memory.

     
  • At March 12, 2011 at 10:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks so much!

     
  • At March 12, 2011 at 11:27 PM , Anonymous Sherri said...

    Wow, you really drew me in with that! It felt real, and I could picture the grandmother so vividly.

     
  • At March 13, 2011 at 8:02 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh thank you! My mom actually said it reminded her of her own grandmother in ways. I am glad that people thought it felt authentic.

     
  • At March 16, 2011 at 12:28 AM , Anonymous Nichole said...

    Angela...you take my breath away.
    I would have never thought this fiction without the note at the bottom.
    You have a remarkable ability to bring humanity to your characters, to give them a vulnerability and tenderness that leaves me in awe.
    You leave me anticipating what you'll craft for us next.
    Amazing job.

     
  • At March 16, 2011 at 8:24 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you so very much :) I am just starting to write again after a long hiatus, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support that you and the rest of the community at TRDC provide. I feel so lucky to have found this group of superb writers to help me on my journey!

     

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