20100221

Jess’s Expiration Date

by Litsa Dremousis

Jess’s memorial was like a cross between a junior high tolo and an AA meeting, only less formal and with fewer tears. A punch bowl filled with apple juice and surrounded by Dixie cups rested on a folding table in the back of the auditorium and when individuals in front took turns addressing the crowd, the microphone was beset by technical difficulties. The tone was set by his mother, who wore red and greeted the assembled placidly, as if we were there to view her new deck furniture and not pay tribute to her oldest son, who had died the week before. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Mrs. Templeton,” I said and put my arm on her shoulder. “Of course, Mia,” she replied and walked away, as if acknowledgment of why we were gathered were a breach of protocol. A year later, Jess’s ashes remain nestled in the pantry of his Uncle Harold’s house, Mrs. Templeton apparently confident her brother won’t confuse Jess with the pears she cans for her family each year.

6S

Litsa Dremousis's work appears in The Believer, BlackBook, Bookmarks, Esquire, Filter, Hobart, McSweeney's, Monkeybicycle, MovieMaker, Nerve, Nylon, Paper, Paste, Pindeldyboz, Poets and Writers, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Sound, the Seattle Weekly, on NPR and in sundry other venues. She is completing her first novel, and frolics here.

11 comments:

Editor said...

Yes, nice work. You do have a way of painting a very very clear picture. I enjoyed reading your piece.



-Raquel

Anonymous said...

This was a great little piece. I love the tone.

Chinaka said...

As always,Litsa is an exceptional writer.

Eric Spitznagel said...

As somebody who has been trying (and not always succeeding) to write about death and grief over the past year, Litsa's story was like a revelation. Every last detail of her account was beautifully, painfully, hilariously, gut-wrenchingly true. There were certain sentences (no, I'm not saying which ones) that made me feel like Salieri to her Mozart. She raises the bar for all of us.

Madam Z said...

I'm sorry for Jess, whose death meant so little to so many.

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Thank you, everyone, for your detailed feedback. Deeply appreciated.

Madam Z, I wouldn't usually weigh in, but in this case it seems important to clarify: this is a fictional work. The character upon whom Jess is based meant a tremendous amount to countless individuals and he is missed to an excruciating degree. Which made the way his memorial was handled that much more jarring.

Madam Z said...

Thank you, Litsa, for your thoughtful reply. I often have difficulty telling well-written fiction from fact.

Laura said...

Strong imagery. Very clear.

carlos de la parra said...

Really good! Compliant with a precept of short fiction that establishes that you should leave an open door so your readers can arrive at their own conclusions,and in this story,to me
,that lady canned the ashes in the same canning process as the pears.Great ending.

Bones No More said...

Very vivid, very factual and descriptive yet the pain and bewilderment of the narrator comes through clearly.

Anonymous said...

Very sad. I felt the tension and confusion of this person. Hold me back I wanted to slap the mother.