LB Lee (lb_lee) wrote,
LB Lee

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Thanksathon: Very Concerned

Hello, everybody!  We're kicking off Thanksathon with this prompt from [personal profile] zianuray , who wanted "When someone else thinks you should be grateful for something you cannot use, did not ask for , and is actually very much NOT in your best interest," and a backdoor prompt from rolodexaspirin!  It was sponsored by [personal profile] zianuray and [personal profile] ljlee !  Happy writeathon, everybody!

Very Concerned

The first month Judy was homeless, they sent her a silver commemorative spoon for something from the 1970s.  She found it painstakingly wrapped in the mailbox Ricky was letting her use while she slept in the upstairs closet.  Judy would never have opened it had the label been handwritten, but the anonymous type and lack of return address fooled her and she unwrapped it.

With the spoon was a card saying, “We love you!” and a happy face.

Judy threw the card in the trash and gave the spoon to Goodwill.  Then she called her grandmother.

“You gave them my address, didn’t you.”

“Oh dear.  I’m sorry, I know you told me not too, it’s just they were so concerned…”

Judy sighed.  There was no point in getting angry, she told herself.  What was done was done. “It’s okay.  Just don’t give them my new number.”


“You already did, didn’t you.”

Her grandmother’s voice was almost a wail. “They were just so concerned, Judy!”

“Goodbye, Grandma,” Judy said, and she hung up.

She spent the rest of the day in her closet.

The second month Judy was homeless, they sent her a letter.  She threw it in the trash, unopened, then dug it out an hour later, read it, and threw it away again, kicking herself for being stupid and sentimental.

Then she went to borrow Ricky’s cleaning supplies.  She’d overheard one of her not-homeless friends lamenting the state of their home in general and their kitchen in specific with Thanksgiving on the way, and Judy had offered to clean it for them.  They had been taken aback at the very suggestion (“but you’re so much better than that!”) but Judy had no shame or pride.  Not anymore.  Not when money was involved, or so she told herself.

Scrubbing every bit of melted, charred foodstuffs from the repulsive stove relieved her feelings a little.  Her friend vastly overpaid her, and Judy pretended not to notice.

She celebrated by paying her half of the pizza Ricky ordered for Vincent Price night.  They pretended it wasn’t Thanksgiving.

The third month Judy was homeless, they sent her a check.  Ricky caught her before she shredded it and tried to reason with her.

“Judy, that’s $200.  You need that money.”

“Not this much,” Judy snapped.  She didn’t have shame or pride anymore, but she still had her ingratitude.

Ricky just looked at her.  In his eyes, she saw the food bank bags, the layers of sweaters because her coat had fallen apart, the toilets she scrubbed in a vain attempt to pay him back for his closet.  In his eyes, she saw pity.

She cashed the check, bought a coat, and hated herself for doing it.

The fourth month Judy was homeless, they sent her a postcard from Key West. “Wish you were here!” Smiley face.

Ricky, in penance for his earlier behavior regarding the check, helped her burn the card over a box of wine and the Last Man on Earth.

“They really have no shame, do they?” Ricky asked as the last of the card burned down into ash.

 Judy huddled in her warm coat; Ricky couldn’t afford to raise the heat past fifty-five. “They really don’t.” A thought struck her. “Do you think they don’t know?”

Ricky gave her an incredulous look. “How could they not?  Your grandma must’ve told them; after all, they’re—”

“—So concerned,” Judy finished for him with a snort and a shake of her head. “Sorry.  Stupid question.  It’s just hard to believe reality sometimes.”

“You know that’s what they want.”

“Yeah.  I know.”

They sat and watched Vincent Price kill vampires.

The fifth month Judy was homeless, they sent her nothing, but her grandma called.

“I really think this has gone on long enough, don’t you?” she said. “Your parents are really worried about you.  Your mother’s breaking out in hives.  They’re so sad you’re gone.  Why don’t you do some group therapy?  I know a lovely psychiatrist…”

“No, Grandma.” Judy had tried that before.  It had gone… badly.

“But this isn’t that awful social worker you were seeing.  This is a psychiatrist.  They’re doctors, dear, true professionals.”

“No, Grandma.”

Her grandmother’s voice grew wheedling. “Love and respect is a two-way street, honey.  You have to meet them halfway.  Compromise just a little, won’t you?”

Judy’s hand was starting to shake, but her voice stayed flat. “I have to go, Grandma.”

She hung up and sat on the floor of the upstairs closet, where it was small and dark and safe.  She curled into a ball and buried her face in her knees.  She stayed that way for a while, and when she raised her head, she didn’t feel so bad anymore.  She didn’t feel much of anything at all.

Oh, thank god.  Finally.

The sixth month Judy was homeless, they sent her a package.  She threw it away unopened.  She felt nothing.

The seventh month Judy was homeless, they sent her a bigger package and four phone calls.  She threw the package away unopened, screened the calls, and felt nothing.

The eighth month Judy was homeless, she got a job stacking boxes at a warehouse.  She washed all her sweaters, sheets, and towels, started paying back all the money she owed, all in a numb haze that protected her from the reality of the situation.  She couldn’t handle good news.  Not today.  There was no such thing as good news, only harbingers of more disaster.

No mail.  No calls.  Maybe they were finally leaving her alone?

The ninth month Judy was homeless, she found the emails.  They had bought a new house.  They were moving out of the old one.  They offered to pay her to clean it for them; they would even pay fair wages.  Ha ha.  Smiley face.

The numb haze finally tore.  Inside her, Judy felt a surging inferno of bile and acid.

She scrubbed Ricky’s whole apartment and was angry.  She took out the garbage and turned in the cans for change, and she was angry.  She did everything she could think of, and she was furious.

She grabbed her laptop and opened up her email.  She clicked ‘reply’ and wrote FUCK YOU.

She felt better.

The tenth month Judy was homeless, they sent her a check.  She shredded it and went back to looking up roommates wanted ads.

Tags: writing
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