Abrupt Ending

Abrupt Ending

A Story by mcg03002

Short Story


The unsteady light from a single hurricane lamp washed the walls of the little room in a sickly yellow. Its weak and desperate warmth lapped the darkness like the tiny waves that endlessly buffeted the shoreline of nearby Lake Bourbon. The chatter of choppy waters and the whisper of cold wind that brought them into being entered the room through a window. Their stirring agitated the now-dying flame in the lamp. With bowing motions and an almost inaudible popping sound, the dancer on the wick struggled to continue painting its golden hues upon the surfaces that surrounded it " but the kerosene was nearly gone. Soon only blackness and cold would inhabit the glass chimney which rose above the mess of books and papers cluttering the old writing desk on which it stood.

A glance at his wristwatch showed the room’s only occupant that the hour was long past midnight…but still a while before dawn. He ran a trembling hand through a full head of thin silvery hair and then scratched at the robust beard on his chin. With a sigh, he gathered together the papers from all over the desk, pulling some from books where they’d been used to mark important chapters, and others from beneath note pads or newspapers. He put them in order according to page numbers which he’d written in the corners and gently tapped the stack on the cleared writing surface a few times so as to align the edges. Then, bracing himself on the sides of the desk, he stood up. There was a creaking sound that came from bare floor boards beneath his unslippered feet, but he imagined it was his old back complaining as he put it to work. Slowly, he shuffled over to the door, leaving the flame to flicker and flutter through its final death throes.

                Grandpa Jim, as he liked to be called, stepped out into the carpeted hallway, glad for a bit of warmth upon his soles. He headed to the right toward his bedroom, stack of papers in hand. Along the way he passed doorways leading to the living areas, music room, and kitchen of the aged lakeside manor where he’d spent the happiest years of his life. Each chamber called silently to him with sights and smells tied to memories, new and old. Midway down the hall, he approached a large wall mirror that faced the front entry. Catching site of his reflection, he chuckled a bit at his appearance. He looked like a decrepit old Santa Claus with a hunched back and a significantly thinner physique.  A few steps later he reached the door to his bedroom. Slipping inside with all the stealth an old man could conjure up, he carefully shut it behind him and crept over to the antique dresser, listening for any change in the rhythmic breathing coming from the bed. Not wanting to disturb the slumbering form, barely visible in the darkness, he opened the top drawer carefully, trying not to rattle any of the silver-framed pictures which covered every inch of the dresser’s top.  With the papers safely put away, and a soft snoring indicating he’d been sufficiently quiet, Jim paused for a minute to look at some of the happy images. In the absence of light, they all appeared black and white...but he remembered every moment in color. A smile crinkled his eyes and ruffled his whiskers. He was a lucky man.

                “What are you doing up?” came a soft voice from behind him.

                He didn’t reply right away, but moved over toward the bed. Standing beside her, looking at her familiar face in the moon’s glow, warm beads of moisture began to form at the corners of his eyes. He reached out a hand, pushed the covers away, and tenderly rubbed her back. She smiled.

                “I couldn’t sleep, MindyLou,” he said in a whisper. “I wanted to get some writing done.”

                “Come back to bed,” was the reply. “It’s too cold to be wandering about the house at this hour.”

                Jim laughed out loud, his rich baritone timbre burning away the silence.

                “I love you my dear,” he said, as he walked to the opposite side of the bed. He pulled back the duvet and climbed in next to her, locking one arm around her waist. “sometimes you have to get something written right when it hits you…or you lose it and it’s gone forever.”

                “Did you put out that silly lamp?” she asked. “I don’t know why you insist on using that.”

                “It relaxes me " feels more natural,” he said “Now go back to sleep.”

                Smiling with contentment, Jim Thornton lay back on his pillow and closed his tired eyes, never to open them again. In another room of the house, a flame in a hurricane lamp sputtered and died.

The rising sun saw an eighty year-old woman in a light blue nightgown carefully opening her underwear drawer, so as not to rattle the countless framed photographs which adorned the dresser’s top.  Nestled among her underclothes she found an envelope containing a hand painted card. Inside, scrawled in squiggly letters born of a quivering hand, were the words “Happy Aniversary, my dear MindyLou. I love you, and I know you love me too. We know it so well that, were one of us to embark on a journey without bidding the other farewell, no tears would need be shed over what we wish we could have said.”

 Peering over the edge of the card, Mindy saw a jumble of papers wrapped together with coarse twine.  The topmost page bore the title “My Sweet Days with Mindy Louise Thornton, by Grandpa Jim.” She lifted her gaze again to the photos and contemplated the crowded images. Blurred once by time, and now again by tears, fifty years of memories seemed to fade and run together. The feelings that her beloved companion had planted and cultivated in her, though, were as sharp and poignant as they’d ever been…and there was one, through five decades, that overshadowed all the rest. Happiness, she thought, was knowing how much your lover loved you, and that he, at every moment, felt your love as strongly.

© 2010 mcg03002

Advertise Here
Want to advertise here? Get started for as little as $5

Author's Note

Well, I think some parts of it are maybe trying to hard...or perhaps they are too wordy. Please be free with criticism. I won't be offended.

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Featured Review

Well darnit, you made my eyes leak. This is a very sensitive and tender piece of writing that I'd like to see exposed to a much wider audience. For the most part, only the first paragraph seemed a bit wordy to me, but it's a minor gripe. Overall, this is a little gem.

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Great story telling. This did justice in the realm of getting the message across. Great message. There's lot of times where a story can have a great message to aim for, and have a lot of under lining things but then no one gets it, and if no one gets it, then the point has failed. But in my opinion this did well to get the message across. You made it clear, which is why I think it's good. Keep up the good work. What was also great was that I could imagine the story as I read it, and that is also a strong point of stories. The ability to have the reader imagine it because after all we're reading not watching it, but it was as if I was there as I read this, and that is great. Good job once again.

Posted 7 Years Ago

Mcg, this story is lovely. I wholeheartedly agree with Sam about this being a gem. Somehow he knew he wouldn't go until his writing for her was done. I love the image of the flame sputtering and dying. My husband and I have been married 20 years. I hope this is the way it will be for us, too. Angi~

Posted 9 Years Ago

It is a great story with all the delicious moments of human frailty and beauty. In addition to what have already been said, yes, I find that the wording of the ending (of the story) can be shorter and at the same time punching while keeping the sensitive note.

Posted 13 Years Ago

With everyone who critiqued the structure of the first paagraph, I must respectfully disageee. You gradually and in expansive yet subtle detail set up not only a scene, but a mood. The phrase "the dancer on the wick" is magnificent! (Though I might change "its" golden hues to "her" golden hues; another symbolic antecedent) Apart from two typos ("throes" not "throws", and "Claus", not "Clause". I find no flaw in this touching little rendition. If anything, I might offer a few MORE details,MORE backstory, for example, How long had he known he was dying? What of? Was it his singleminded devotion to this writing mission the only thing keeping him alive? And how did he know that tonight was to be his final page? (Sweet analogy, incidentally, to the end of the book being tantamount to the end of his life!) So, allsaid, it's masterful as it stands, but might possibly profit from a bit of EXPANSION, rather than TRIMMING!

Posted 13 Years Ago

I hope that this review doesn't seem like I'm being too picky or rewriting parts for you... I simply copied down little parts that I got caught on somehow, and I tried to give suggestions to improve these parts:
"A glance at his wristwatch showed the room’s only occupant that the hour was long past midnight…" Here, I think I would prefer a shorter, simpler sentence. I don't like being told that this is only person in the room in this way. How about something like, "He glanced at his watch. It was long past midnight, and everyone was in bed..." This isn't all that great, but I hope you get my meaning.
"Slipping inside with all the stealth an old man could conjure up..." Phrases like this inexplicably pull me out of the story... I would rather read something like, "He carefully slipped inside, slowly shutting the door behind him..."
"...he opened the top drawer carefully, trying not to rattle any of the silver-framed pictures..." The word "carefully" is not needed in this sentence. It reads more smoothly without it. (The same word is also used shortly before this usage.)
When Jim looked fondly over the pictures of his memories with his wife, I was a little disappointed to not be given a little more detail of these memories. Even a simple list of the pictures may have been enough. (The time Jim took her to see the carnival, the two of them huddled around their first child in the hospital... there was even a small wrinkly photograph from their first date.)
I love your word choice. You clearly have either thought carefully about each word in some places, or else they are coming naturally to you.
The only other (constructive) thing I have to say about this piece is that more specific details about the memories would really pull the reader in more, and make him/her more emotionally involved.
Other than that, I really liked this story. You were trying to make me sad, and you did it!

Posted 13 Years Ago

One other thought. I'm not sure if the title fits the feeling of the story. Maybe instead of focusing on his sudden death you should focus on either the image of the lamp, or the messages of the story.

Posted 13 Years Ago

I really enjoyed this. I agree with everyone else that the beginning is rather wordy, but PLEASE, do not change this too much! I think if anything in order to achieve a balance between the beginning and the rest of the story, you should put more of these images and comparisons. I may be biased because those are the kinds of references that I personally adore. I felt so connected to the story immediately due to these references. They pulled me in and set a great deal of atmosphere. Maybe I like the beginning because it puts me into the writer's place, his late night journey, and ties me even more deeply to the story later on when we find out what happens to Jim.

I think I feel personally connected to this because I have often said writing drives me nuts. It comes to me when I cannot write; in class, at work, but especially when I'm trying to go to sleep. You tied together this strange desire writer's feel and a need to express yourself to your loved ones beautifully. I didn't cry, but I don't think that's a failure. I felt the peace of Jim that he was trying to convey to his love. Great job! Let me know if you want notes on any specific parts.

Posted 13 Years Ago

Very tender and rather sad at the same time. Loss of a loved one always is.

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is defiantly a tear jerker! Expressed very well with a clear image of the story being displayed in my head. I wouldn't change a thing with how you have told this tale.

Great write!

Posted 13 Years Ago

The story itself was well done in showing the relation these two had with one another. I was not emotionally touched by the story. I like how Jim mention that when you have a thought you need to act on it or you could lose it forever, and that thought happened to be the story of his life with his love. Is it a feeling he got knowing it was his last work, or was it something in which happened for the benefit of Mindy from the works of fate? With the word play at the beginning in creating the picture was well done, but why such a beautiful description of life in just the beginning only to have the lack of said in the end.

Posted 13 Years Ago

First Page first
Previous Page prev
Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


15 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on April 11, 2010
Last Updated on May 7, 2010
Tags: love, age, marriage, death, peace, memory, couple, romance



Idaho Falls, ID

I am just a wannabe writer living in Idaho Falls. I work full time as a sales manager for a hotel. Here's a song I recorded for a dear friend. It's a cover of one of my absolute favorites. more..


Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..

Ivor Ivor

A Poem by Tate Morgan

6 Weeks 6 Weeks

A Story by Jim Parson

Ride Ride

A Poem by Robin

Black Cats Black Cats

A Poem by Robin