Yesterday was a good day – a day of deadline completions and working on my story, “Chattahoochee Child.” For many years, I have worked on this story – writing a synopsis, outline and the manuscript. For many years, I recognized that I really didn’t have much of a plot, that is, until my mother died.
Because I live in Charleston, SC and my mother resided in Warm Springs, GA, add to the fact that we were estranged for many years, I did not know about her death until twenty-six hours after she passed away. I was battling a severe case of bronchial asthma – missing about two weeks of work when I finally got the phone call. My sister was drunk so she passed the phone over to her son. When I insisted on speaking with her, her son asked me an interesting question I failed to comprehend at the time.
“Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?
Moments later I spoke with my sister, reminding her we needed to make arrangements for the funeral.
“Already done,” she spat back at me. “We done made the plans and she’ll be put in her grave in the morning at 10 o’clock.”
“10:00 am.” I said. “I’m too sick to drive. You haven’t allowed any time for me to get there, nor did you include me in any of the plans. Why didn’t you call me earlier?” My chest burned like fire as I coughed.
“Ain’t my problem, but I knew you wouldn’t come. You ain’t been a member of this family for a long time.”
Her final words before hanging up stunned me. Perhaps she had forgotten what a difficult childhood we had, or perhaps she enjoyed always making me the outcast of our family.
“You reckon they’ll do an autopsy?”
“Why would they? Wasn’t she in the hospital?”
The phone went silent. I reached for my inhaler, desperate to make the coughing stop.
Weeks later, in a dream those words haunted me again. “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?” My mother died in the hospital. Was an autopsy really necessary?
I haven’t spoken to my sister since that date, but the story of “Chattahoochee Child” is taking a new twist now. I suppose my readers will just have to stay tuned, as I write and get this story completed.
“Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”
Isn’t it strange how such chilling words can give a writer just what she needed to write that one story needing to be shared. Perhaps that is why I write!