Elsie and the Pig

For anyone who knew Elsie, the story I’m about to tell won’t come as a surprise. Elsie was hands-on, her clothes often covered in mud, her behavior boisterous at times. In her family, she was the quiet one, for everyone else, she was rather peculiar with a sense of humor bordering the crude. With a heart too sensitive for the outside world, she kept her feelings hidden behind a facade of I-don’t-care, her emotions aggressive whenever she feared someone threatened to expose her inner world.

Her stories always rather gory, her friends were used to hearing fables of lost limbs, wives celebrating their husbands’ deaths and infected dog bites. They didn’t flinch at pet names such as Ebola or Plague and had learned to laugh off her regular slurs. So one day, when Elsie started to tell one of her stories in a voice bubbling with suppressed rage, no one questioned the name she used to describe a beloved family member and that, in return, said a lot about Elsie’s friends themselves.

“Didn’t I tell you,” Elsie asked half annoyed. “She’s finally dead. I can’t believe how long it took her to finally call it quits.”

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Twelve Days of Christmas

“Home?“ she asks and I look straight into her warm green eyes. A nod. “Okay.”

The road is sugar-coated and empty ahead of us, the wheels are digging through cushions of fresh snow. It’s Christmas time. The radio’s playing old-time favorites, country singers and 60s show stars. Flakes are dancing on the windshield, the sound is damped. I close my eyes, inhale her scent.

“How was Ontario?” Her voice cuts gently into the silence of my thoughts.

“Lonely.” I smile and rest my hand on hers. Her skin is soft, her nails are brittle. “Did you find a tree?”

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