The Last Laugh

This was written a while back as a flash piece for my writer’s group. I thought it might be fun to dust off a few of my short fiction pieces and post one now and then.

Eleanor eased the sedan to a stop near the massive willow and peered warily at the sky. The sun had been peeking in and out all day, but now the clouds were growing thicker and darker. She figured she’d have no more than 10 minutes before the heavens opened up and soaked her through. “Well then,” she chuckled to herself, navigating her way amongst the neat rows of headstones and wilted flowers, “I’ll just have to make this a quick visit, won’t I?” As if there were any other kind. Truth be told, she never stayed for more than a few scant minutes at Edgar’s grave anyway. Coming here once a week wasn’t something she did out of love or loyalty. It was on her way home from Margaret’s house, and meeting up with the gals for Bridge Club every Tuesday was something she’d never miss, no matter what the weather. Stopping by to tend the gravesite on the trip back gave her the chance to keep up the lonely widow ruse with her friends and neighbors, a valuable form of currency that was certainly worth the minor detour.

She was glad to see Edgar finally go. Sure, there was a time—40 years ago, maybe—that she loved him, but that passed quickly once they’d been married. She thought she’d married a strong, silent type, but it turns out that still waters don’t always run deep. Other people may have found Edgar’s easy-going demeanor appealing, but for Eleanor, he was as boring as stale toast. She tried many times to tell him that she needed more out of life, that she yearned for excitement and spontaneity, but he’d just laugh it off. He never took anything she said seriously.

“Those days are over now, though, aren’t they dear” she said, kneeling beside the gray granite marker, her eyes glancing up at the meaningless words “Beloved Husband” before focusing back on the task at hand.

Eleanor picked at the few stray strands of crabgrass, plucking away the spent blossoms on the marigolds that blanketed the ground above Edgar, as the first sounds of thunder crackled in the distance. Although he loved every other type of flower, he’d always hated marigolds, she thought with a smile. Eleanor was finally, blissfully in control, and Edgar couldn’t do anything about it. “And that, my dear, is that!” she crowed triumphantly, brushing off her hands before reaching for her keys.

She was only about ten feet from the car when the sudden flash of light engulfed her. Just as Eleanor’s startled heart took its final beat, the strike’s rumbling echo reached her. It sounded oddly familiar, like laughter.

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