by Jane Liu, Age 16, US
The November drama prompt was “gratitude.”
OF DEATH AND DECEPTION
Bedroom. Spotlight on couch where a SENIOR LADY reclines. ALEX enters stage left, with a mug of tea.
ALEX: Here, Grandmama, just the way you like it.
GRANDMAMA: Thank you, Alex. I knew I would succeed with one child, at least. What did your mother want this time? That self-absorbed harpy.
ALEX: Funny, she said the same thing about you.
GRANDMAMA: In her shrill voice, too. I could hear her from here. Twenty-five years and I still don’t understand where she got it from. Not me, for sure.
ALEX: She wanted to know if you updated your will.
GRANDMAMA: Of course she did. That’s all she wants to know these days. And that husband of hers was hovering in the kitchen doorway, I presume? Fat tub of lard, that man.
ALEX: How did you know?
GRANDMAMA: Let your grandmama keep some of her secrets, darling boy. Lord knows she won’t have any after she passes on.
GRANDMAMA: Oh, alright, but just this once. Your grandmama, she used to do a little something for the FBI. Learned more than one would think evading capture.
ALEX: Hah. I’m too old for those bedtime stories. If you didn’t want to answer, just say so. My mother is not brainwashed from enemy spies, Grandpapa wasn’t from the M16 sent to capture you, and you’re not a reformed bandit. Did I get most of your more ridiculous stories?
GRANDMAMA: Retired, not reformed. Huge difference there, sugar. Remember that.
ALEX: Whatever. Your stories kept changing, Grandmama, as I grew up. Just because I liked race cars once when I was five doesn’t mean you once drove an Audi off a cliff. And my pirate stage, ugh, Grandmama, I can’t believe I actually believed that you had a sword fight on the British flagship.
GRANDMAMA: I keep telling you, don’t listen to your Grandpapa. He doesn’t know anything. And I signed you up for fencing lessons, didn’t I?
ALEX: That doesn’t exactly make me keep believing you. You don’t know any of the rules of fencing. It was Grandpapa who had to practice with me.
GRANDMAMA: Having rules in that sport is simply horrible. Stifles creativity, it does. Just stab your opponent with the pointy end, I say.
ALEX: And that’s why you’re not an Olympic fencer.
GRANDMAMA: You don’t know that. I could have been.
ALEX: I looked you up before. There wasn’t anything. You didn’t save the queen, or steal the flag from our President’s office, and those things can’t be covered up. But Grandmama, why would my mother ask about hidden treasure? Did you tell her those stories? Why would she believe them?
GRANDMAMA: So many questions. I think your mother may not have all the lights on upstairs. After all, my stories are just stories, aren’t they?
ALEX: Grandmama. They’re really nice stories. You pay great attention to detail, even if you start mixing them up on occasion.
GRANDMAMA: That’s me. Detail-oriented.
ALEX: Grandmama, stop distracting me. Mother was really demanding about this one.
GRANDMAMA: How about we–how do you kids say it nowadays–mess with her a little? My last wish, Alex. You can’t deny a dying woman her last wish.
ALEX: Not your last.
GRANDMAMA: Help me up, sweetheart.
Jane says: Though I enjoy writing humorous short stories and poems, I’m currently working on a YA novel with darker themes.