Friday, July 2, 2010


It was time to pack her things away, the grieving period was over. They all needed to move on with their lives and holding onto her belongings wasn’t helping at all.
She placed some boxes on top of her grandma’s bed and after taking a deep breath she heads towards the old Chinese closet.

Her grandma loved Chinese things, everything in her home was from China – fake or original… it didn’t matter as long as the label said: MADE IN CHINA. Everyone in the family used to make fun of her China mania. She has never been in China, did not have any family or past connected to that country. She was very tall, blond and with striking green eyes. She and her house were a total mismatch that kept taking people by surprise. Many kept expecting to see a Chinese coming out any time, but all they saw was grandma and her Irish husband…
Grandma with her crazy and unusual personality was the life and soul of the entire family and neighborhood. She was someone who always looked for the bright side of things, it didn’t matter how bad things could be since she never gave up and always managed to bring hope and strength back to the most desperate.

Amelia is trying hard to keep her tears out of view, grandma didn’t want anyone to cry for her, she wanted to be remember exactly the way she was… full of life and optimism. She kept saying that passing was just another chapter in everybody’s journey. It was the graduation of the soul, moving from the physical field to the ethereal one… she believed in the afterlife and refused to get attached to anything… even life. When the time was right she was ready to cross over and move on… so she expected nothing less from the ones closest to her.
The first thing Amelia sees as soon as she opens one of the bottom drawers is the box containing the old Chinese firecrackers, and immediately a big smile brightened her face as she remembers how she loved to tease her grandma with silly questions about her love affair with Chinese things, her grandma always had a right answer on hand…
“Grandma… why do you keep these old firecrackers? I’m sure they don’t work anymore, so what’s the point?”
“They keep me safe!” - Grandma used to quickly answer, and then she started to further elaborate her reply to educate her misinformed granddaughter …
“Firecrackers were used in old China to scare away unwanted animals and evil spirits. During the Lunar New Year the Chinese used it to scare away a unicorn called Nian, firecrackers were the only thing that the evil creature was scared of… its bursting bamboo was too much for it to handle. If Nian ran away the people were assured of a prosperous and happy new year.”
“Do you want to know how are they made?”
And without waiting for an answer she kept saying: “It is a plain paper tube, folded tightly closed at the bottom that is loaded with black powder and a fuse, folded tightly closed at the head end. Then the finished cracker fuses are neatly braided together, and each completed flat bundle is wrapped with colorful paper to make it more attractive.
Your grandpa gave those to me long ago… so I could be safe when he was away.
Firecrackers scare evils away, that’s why I keep them…”

Amelia misses her grandma and can’t hold any longer her sorrows. So she let go and cried without holding anything… she knows that grandma is looking and smiling… as always, she understands.

This post is a submission to Magpie Tales #21, writing on a theme of the above photo.

© 2010 Gabriela Abalo


Tag said...

Gabriela I'm so pleased to see you stretching your creativeness with these short stories. You have a fine sensitivity for what makes people what they are. Firecrackers may be your best yet.

Ed Pilolla said...

the quotes at the end are fun, especially 'they keep me safe!' i can hear a grandma say that, easily. something off the wall, totally believed. grandma sounds like a positive sort of firecracker herself:) very nice.

Kass said...

I'm with Tag. I love seeing you expand your creativity. This is a tender story, told with a lot of depth.

Anonymous said...

Great short story and I enjoyed the little history about firecrackers too. wonderful job writing this magpie!

leenah said...

Absolutely enjoyable, and oh-so-real-grandma! :)
Gabriela, I truly enjoyed the way you brought your character to life. Almost touchable.

Chrissy said...

I was surprised as I read on that Gramma was tall and blond and had no ties to China. You did a wonderful job of investing us into the Gramma character. Neat Magpie!

Anonymous said...

nice magpie!

Lisa said...

a story filled with love for a chapter closed but also hope for new chapters.

signed...bkm said...

lovely magpie with a wonderful bit of triva on firecrackers...I will rememeber that and keep them near...bkm

Robert Lloyd said...

A touching story indeed. I enjoyed the read you did a great job. Thank you for sahring.

Sam Liu said...

This is a touchingly beautiful story, Gabriela. You have painted a wonderful portrait of a fascinating character and so perfectly placed yourself in the heart of mind of one suffering with makes your writing a joy to read.

kathew said...

lovely story -

Carrie Burtt said...

Truly enjoy this story. You are an artist with words. :-)

Brian Miller said...

nice told tale...weaving in the history and the grammas got some personality as well. smiles.

Tumblewords: said...

Poppin' good magpie. Amelia and her gramma are wonderful characters, warm and real!

RA said...

A beautifully written, touching tale. :)

Gabriela Abalo said...

Tag: I’m touched with your very encouraging comment. Thank you my dear friend.

Ed: My objective was to create believable characters. Coming up with grandma was fun… I can of imagined they way I would like to be remember by those surviving me…although I don’t have that crave for Chinese things….

Kass: tenderness and some insight were my main objective when writing this short tale… Thank you my dear friend for your continuous support.

Patience: welcome to the blog and thank you for stopping by.

Leenah: yes, yes, yes… touchable and credible characters were my intention.

Chrissy: tall and blonde doesn’t usually match Chinese style – so that was my bit of fun ;)

Soundoffredom: thanks!

Lisa: that is the way life is… full of endings and beginnings

Bkm: thanks for stopping by. I have to do some research to learn about firecrackers ;)

Robert: thank for stopping by. I’m happy to know you enjoyed the reading

Sam: to write a credible tale we must wear our characters shoes… that is what I do. Thanks for your continuous support.

Kathew: thank you very much.
Carrie: Thank you, I really enjoy playing with words.

Brian: smiles back to you.

Tumblewords: warm and real were fundamental to this story. Thanks for stopping by.

RA:  thanks!

Bunda said...

Beautiful and full of life!
Very believable characters, it even had me wondering if there's any truth behind the firecracker tale! :)Loved it!