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Rated: E · Short Story · War · #2308432
Linda talks with Elaine about current events. What have we learned from the past?
WdC Prompt: Read the last personal email you received, and start a story with the first sentence.

“Can you send me the thread, I can’t find it,” said my cousin Elaine. She was calling for the second time in four days. I had my sewing box on the nightstand. I left the lid off intending to finish the dress for my antique doll. Elaine, I thought. She was always losing things.

The doctors told her the tumor would continue to press on her brain, the part responsible for memory. I remember it is called the hippocampus. I remember it because I associated it with a hippo walking around my college campus. It was a vivid word association which was the trick I used to appear as if I remembered every single thing that happened to me. I really didn’t but at least I could sound intelligent using the word hippocampus and knowing what it meant.

“Elaine,” I said. “How did you lose your thread again? Didn’t you lose a spool just last weekend?”

“Yes, Linda, I did. It was Boots. You know she is a mischievous kitty, always getting her paw where it does not belong.”

“What color do you need this time?”

“It is the mint green I was using to stitch the pants for Ginny.”

“Can you believe these little dolls are now sixty-five?” I asked my favorite girl cousin. We spent long summers up at the lake. Lazy days laying on the dock talking about the men we would marry. The last summer we spent at the lake cabin we talked about the stupidity of war; killing people because of their beliefs. I had asked her then, and still want to know why people can’t people just get along?

“So, do you have some mint green, Linda?”

“Of course, you knew I would. I always do.”

“Yuppers,” Linda responded. “I’ll stop by after lunch. Maybe I'll bring some salads. You’re still all about the sprouts, right?”

With that we said goodbye. Good old Linda. We were older and wiser, I thought. She was the only one who understood me. Our deep feelings about love and war and loyalty and justice. It seemed like we were the only ones in the world who had the passion and the energy to take a stand. I turned on the smart television with my clicker. That brought a smile to my face. My little grandson asked me why I called it a clicker. Because it changes stations with a click, I explained. His beautiful face would scrunch up, puzzled as always at this, one of many habits I had. He proclaimed that is what he would call it until he died. Such drama, I thought.

In his world, there was no war, no death, no one with a rope quite like the one we used to catapult us from shore to the deeper water in our lake, yards from where we stood. Linda was the adventurous one. She was the first one to wear a mini-skirt and a two-piece bathing suit. She bleached her hair in seventh grade. My mom’s sister was a hippie back in the day. Free love and a do-it-yourself way of living. Aunt Luanne often wore tie-dyed shirts with short shorts today when she worked in her garden. She called the green plants her medicine plants.

It was the “Troubles” between Northern and Southern Ireland that troubled us. It was easy to associate trouble with turmoil and conflict, which explained the animosity between the two religious groups. The protestants, on my side, were in Southern Ireland’s Republic while Linda’s Catholics lived in the North, refusing to join the Republic which would unite all of Ireland. We did a class project on the conflict. Linda and I were paired up. We spent one Thanksgiving week off school working on the angle we would take for our class presentation. Each of us would give a “sermon” as spiritual leaders of the protestant and catholic churches located on either side of the border. We would point out the advantages of unity.

“A country divided against itself can not stand,” said President Lincoln. We each incorporated that sentiment. We closed with the poem by e.e Sanyaolu, “United we Stand.”

“We had all the answers, then, didn’t we?” I asked Linda. “Just as the division in the Middle East now. Palestinian Muslims practice Islam, while the Jewish people, well, gee they practice Judaism. It’s as much about religion as it is whose land is whose.”

Our idol, Mary Travers, along with Peter and Paul had it right.

“Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?”

Dylan wrote and sang it first. Ah, Dylan and Denver, Springsteen and Bono. Why don’t people just get along? I slowly climbed the stairs and headed for my sewing room. The war that was to end all wars, Great Grandpa told me again and again, was the farthest from the truth. And so my mind wandered from memories of summer vacations to hopes and dreams for the future. The stark reality of was and short periods of relative peace. My thoughts morphed into the incessant rhetoric spewing from pundits on the cable news outlets, each trying to push their agenda on the viewers. I hummed my favorite Peter, Paul, and Mary song. When would the world ever learn? The answer was just out of my reach. It was out there blowing, blowing in the wind.
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