Special Sauce

A mish-mash of twisted thoughts from a fevered ego. Updated when the spirit moves me, contents vary and may have settled during shipping. Do not open towards eyes. Caution: Ingestion of Special Sauce may cause hair loss, halitosis, and a burning sensation while urinating.


A little experiment

This is something I wrote for English class. We were assigned to write in groups and had to individually come up with a chapter in a novella. Our group decided to make up a story about the funeral of a boy named Heath, who was killed in a drunk driving accident. The other members of the group wrote the sister, girlfriend, and best friend pieces- I took the mother's angle. (formatting's a little funky, because I'm rusty., and honestly forget how to make this stuff indent, so use your imagination, 'k?)

(And remember, this is fiction. No real teenagers were harmed in the writing of this piece.)


There is strength in numbers, they said, but Beth drew no strength from the callers at the visitation that morning. In fact, the only numbers running through her head were seven and three. Seven days since the accident that crushed Heath’s body; three days since they took away the machines that kept her boy alive.

She collapsed into the stiff funeral home chair, her red-rimmed eyes barely taking in the room, as she desperately wished she were anywhere else. If she could just go back to the warmth of her bed the week before; if she could avoid the agonizing middle- of- the- night call that changed everything.

When the phone rings in the middle of the night, it’s never Ed McMahon, or a long-lost relative wishing you well. It was fitting she answered the phone. Beth was always there for Heath— went to his football games, listened to his frustrations, helped him with his homework when she could. It wasn’t that his father wouldn’t or couldn’t care. Their relationship just needed a few more years to come into its own.

“What hospital again? Do you know anything at all, officer? No, it—it’s ok. We’ll be there as soon as we can. Thank you.”

In retrospect, she couldn't imagine how she remained so calm. Maybe she thought Heath would pull through. It was just another obstacle for him, a problem to be broken down and eventually overcome. “He was always so good at that,” she thought. It’s how he became the star quarterback for East High, how he got a full ride to Penn State. It’s how he handled his life…

She sighed, and looked at the arrangements of flowers surrounding the coffin. Anger, grief, and the overwhelming desire to run away competed for supremacy within her. She knew she needed to stay strong, if only in appearance, for Megan. At 16, Megan idolized her older brother, and despite their differences, Beth could tell Megan still hung on his every action. His death devastated the girl, who was sitting quietly on an uncomfortable chair, staring blankly at the wall.

Beth felt a hand on her shoulder and nearly jumped out of her seat.
“Hey, how are you holding up?” a soft voice asked
It took her a moment to realize it was Sarah, another “football mom,” and she responded;
“As well as I can, right now. I guess. I mean, Ed’s a mess. Megan won’t eat- she just stares, and cries, and to top everything off, I have to go clean out Heath’s dorm room on Monday.”
“You’re kidding!” Sarah gasped.
“Something from the housing board about a waiting list or something… Maybe the housing board should have been paying attention to the damn parties the kids were having," Beth spat.

She began to cry again. Rage fought with the grief this time, as she thought back to the morning viewing. Heath’s best friend Jason had the audacity to come, as if he didn’t know he wasn’t welcome. As if he didn’t already know he was the reason Heath was in that coffin in the first place. He walked in with his arm in that cast and tried to offer halfhearted apologies.

“That little drunk bastard runs his car into a pole and only breaks an arm, and my son is dead. ‘Sorry’ isn’t going to make things better,” she angrily sobbed, as Sarah put her arm around her. Beth shrugged off her friend’s attempt at consoling her, and offered a sobbed “just give me a few minutes” by way of apology.

She thought of Jason again. She had liked him when Heath was a boy, she had to—the two were inseparable. She never had any reason to think he’d do anything this stupid once they went off to college. She figured out from Heath’s other friends that the boys went to a Greek party on Friday night. Jason, taking advantage of his newfound freedom, got drunk. Heath didn’t have anything to drink; he had a game the next day. When it came time to go home- Jason drove, Heath couldn’t—the car was standard, and he’d never learned to drive one. Instead of finding someone else to take him home, he trusted Jason. In the middle of a curve that shouldn’t have given the average driver any difficulty, that decision cost Heath his life.

Beth took a deep breath and tried to remember what the hospital’s grief counselor told her. She needed to allow herself to feel this, but not to dwell on it.. She tried to make herself think of other things, like the other people who got a second chance at life because of her son. She thought of his strong heart beating in someone else; his powerful lungs helping someone breathe, and his good kidneys helping two people get off dialysis. Beth tried to remember that this wasn’t the end for everyone.

When she looked up next, she saw Heath’s girlfriend, Amber, enter the room. Amber had stepped out between viewings to spend time with some of Heath’s former teammates. Beth still felt terrible about the way Amber found out about the accident—the poor girl had tried to reach Heath all morning, but his phone had been destroyed. Desperate, she called us. In our rush to get to the hospital, we never thought to call her. She had to find out after the fact that Heath was in intensive care and the reason why.

If Amber was back, it meant the second viewing would begin soon. She wanted desperately to be at home now. To not be on display for these people. More than anything, Beth wanted to spend hours in Heath’s chronically messy room, allowing the smell of teenage boy to permeate her pores, so she could just have him with her a little while longer.

She walked to the coffin, looking down at her son, and remembered the first night he spent at home. “Somehow he still looks a little angelic with just a little bit of a smirk. Of course, he always slept in a sprawling mess, and never kept this still,” she thought with a bit of a smile.

Then, Megan joined her mother.
“It’s almost like he’s going to get up soon and say ‘Dude, why the long faces?’ isn’t it?” Megan asked.
“It is- I think it’s the half-a-smirk there. Are you OK? Do you want something to eat? You haven’t eaten at all today.” The mother in Beth took over.
“Nah, I really can’t. I’ve been drinking Pepto. I’ll be ok.”
“Watch out, that’ll make your tongue black.” Beth chided, and went on—“Look. I know that it’s probably the last thing that either of us will want to do, but let’s go out for breakfast tomorrow. Neither of us is going to sleep, and it’ll be good to get out of the house—just you and me.
“Well, OK… what about Dad?”
“Uncle Jimmy’s staying, and they’re going to go to Coach Novak’s. They’ll be fine.”
“OK. Here come Kacie and Janelle. I’ll be back.” With that, Megan slowly went to greet her friends.

Beth was glad that she made an inroad with her daughter. She knew Megan was in agony. Now she just needed to come up with the words to tell her daughter her feelings were normal. That her world didn’t stop because of this—that it couldn’t.

Well, she could work on it during this sleepless night, she thought. And with that, Beth took a deep breath, stepped away from Heath’s side, and went to join her daughter and husband as the second wave of mourners came to pay their respects.


Blogger Fiber said...

Beautifully written, Sauce. Thanks for sharing it with us.

9:45 AM  

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