Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Anniversary (04/11/05)
TITLE: Friends in a Box
By Madonna Hooper
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“No way Mandy. That’s our supper and I’m not going hungry just so you can see me with egg all over my face – no pun intended.”
“Ah, you’re so BORING Lisa. I know you think you’re the one in charge and all but why do you have to be so BORING. Mum and dad won’t mind if we have a bit of fun.”
“Oh, little sister. What you and I call fun are two different things. One day you’ll grow up and be boring and responsible like me. Now that’s something to aspire to is it not? Settle down now. I want to say Grace.”
“Hey what church meeting are mum and dad at tonight anyway?”
“Um .. I’m not sure. I think it might be about Community Outreach or something like that.”
Somebody yells, a child laughs, the sound of yet another Seinfeld re-run filters through the tissue-thin walls of Apartment 204 where the girls have their heads bowed thanking God for his daily provision.
“Oh Lisa. I can’t wait until we move to our new house. You know living here we don’t need TV or CD’s or anything really. We’re in the middle of a soap opera every single day. Hey maybe I could market that idea! What would I call it? Hmmm .. The Young and the Not so Young?, The Bored and the Boring?, or how about, The People Who Really Annoy Me Every Single day? Not so marketable perhaps but totally how I feel."
Both girls laugh. Their laughter reaches the apartment of their next door neighbor, Mrs. Docherty who is relaxing in her recliner. The stench of cigarette smoke covers her apartment walls like skin. Cigarettes have become her constant companions; her reliable, dependable, little friends in a box. She has lived in Number 203 for two years. Before that she lived with her husband, Bob in one of the nicer suburbs of Melbourne, not plush but nice. She moved into Number 203 after Bob died because she could not bear the vivid memories of her sweetheart, lingering in the house like ambivalent guests.
After Bob’s death Mrs. Docherty’s doctor told her she was depressed but she would have none of that. She had not been to a Doctor since then. In fact she had not seen anybody much since then. Her children lived on the other side of the world and seemed to have forgotten she existed. Sure, they sent her the obligatory, “I love you mum” birthday card and usually sent some sort of Christmas gift but that was all. No friends, no visitors, no life – except for her friends in a box.
“Hey Mandy. I feel a sudden urge to exercise. Let’s go to the gym.”
“Yeah right Lisa. Wouldn’t have anything to do with Tantalizing Tim possibly being there now would it? Alright, it’s 7:00 now. Let’s aim to be back for Survivor at 8:00.”
The girls tease each other and laugh hysterically as they rifle through dirty laundry looking for their ‘hottest’ gym pants and tops.
The are still laughing and playfully jostling each other as they walk past the door of Number 203.
In Room 203 Mrs. Docherty is still reclining in her favorite chair, her ‘friends’ faithfully by her side. Thus far, only her ‘friends’ are aware of the fact that at 7:02 p.m. exactly one week ago Mrs. Docherty passed away.
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