A young woman stepped onto the podium. She was petite and wiry, with luscious black locks and green eyes that swept the room knowingly. Dressed in navy jeans, Havianas and an off-the-shoulder chiffon shirt, she made casual elegant. A female version of Maddox. Her cheeks were a little redder, perhaps, with a sheen of sweat on her brow, and hands tightly packed in her pockets.
But she was his, all right.
“Ladies and gentlemen.” Her voice had an accent to it, a lyrical twist. A suggestion of distant places, of snow. She freed a hand, glanced once at her lined notepaper, then raised those stunning green eyes once more.
“Everyone. Welcome.” The snow was beautiful, inviting.
“We are here to celebrate the life of Maddox-X-Maddox, my father.”
The slideshow began, images of Maddox through the years. The giant projection screen, bouquets of black and red roses and layers of gold saturating the chapel hall poked fun at the whole process, even while allowing for the celebration. A very Maddox thing to do.
“I did not know my father. I was, in fact, never a part of his life. He abandoned my mother and I before I was born. I did not know he was the biological reason I exist… until five days ago.”
A murmur grew through the room. So it was true.
What was she doing there, then?
“Maddox requested that I give this eulogy. I was as surprised as you.” She held up a hand, seeking silence. The room hushed before her.
“I am sure many of you would be more suited to remember him, as his close friends, confidantes, agents, managers, ghost writers, wives, lovers and all.” She smiled, but it did not reach her eyes.
“Perhaps that is why he chose me. A representative of the masses: the people he cared about the most. Even when he cared little about us as individuals.“
Someone coughed. She waited him out.
“Maddox-X-Maddox was a giant of the industry. His musical genius cannot be outshone. In his memory and his work we will remember the hope, love and courage he gave to so many, the voice he gave to the voiceless.
“He was never a part of my life, but in a way he was. Because I grew up with his voice on the radio, in the hearts of my friends. If by leaving me he shared his love with millions of others… Then maybe he did the right thing. I am sure they think so.”
She paused, sipped from the crystal glass on the podium. Her hand shook, just a little. Condensation ran down her fingers, dripping to the lacquered surface like tears. No-one breathed.
“I don’t have much to say about my father that you will not have already thought, or said yourselves. He had a ‘great laugh’. A ‘compelling voice’. A gift for music… and a fondness for hundred year old whisky.”
Eyes flicked to the second glass, golden liquid catching the light and holding it.
“He was a god of music, and he will be remembered for it.
“But he was not my father.
“He was the biological reason I exist, but he was not my father.”
She raised the glass. Its captured golden beams refracted outwards, bathing the faces below.
“He was yours.”
She downed the whisky.
The glass clicked.
She stepped down, ice on fire.
And walked away.
This short story was in response to a writing workshop prompt where we practiced drafting, editing, taking a break, then drafting, editing, breaking, drafting and editing again. This took about 100 minutes. The prompt I chose was: A woman travels halfway around the world to give the eulogy at the funeral of the father who abandoned her as a child.
I found the exercise valuable for showing the difference multiple drafts, edits and … surprise surprise, breaks make to your writing! After sleeping on the third draft a little, I made only one or two changes before pasting it up here.
I hope you liked the story.
To learn more about the drafting/breaks method known as the Pomodoro Technique, try researching Frances Cirillo, or read this excellent breakdown of the time management technique’s usefulness for writers here.
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