Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Present From The Past by Kristen Strassel

I am not sure exactly when I met Kristen, except to say it was not long after being introduced to Julie Hutchings. The two go together like cookies and milk, chocolate and sex. And sex and sex. What I am saying is that these two are inseparable. 

I first read some of Kristen's work on the Undead Duo blog. Check it out here. Then I read her words on Josh's #WorldsEnd series. And I knew then, not only was she hilarious, supportive, and kind, but a fantastic writer. 

She is seriously one of the best friend's a girl can ask for and does everything she can for the people she loves. She's beautiful, intelligent, wonderful and a powerhouse. To say she is talented is an understatement. And it seems only fitting that she started out the stories in #worldsend and she starts out the stories here.

Meet Kristen Strassel. She is woman. Hear her roar. And kick ass.


The Memory Project (continued)

I picked up a small box on the bottom of the suitcase. Worn velvet. Any woman who was worth her salt knew what one of these boxes held. Promises. Words of love. Tradition. It was a lot to be held in such a small container. 

I cracked it open, hinges popping. Inside the case, a beautiful silver antique ring, set with a large blue stone. The beveled edges gleamed and sparkled in the soft sunlight. Small beams of light sparkled upon the walls. Light danced in the room. For a second, the room, dark and dank with secrets became a ballroom, lit up brilliantly by tiny stars.

"It's beautiful." My eyes locked on the gem. "I wonder who wore it."

(to be continued)

A Present From The Past
By Kristen Strassel

Moving sucks.  Especially when you don’t want to.  I liked being this house, but there wasn’t enough room for me and the ghosts.  And the ghosts wouldn’t chip in on rent. 

Even I agreed I needed a fresh start. Everyone had volunteered to help get me the hell out of there, but there were just some things I needed to go through on my own.  Things I needed to work through on my own.  I wanted to get sloppy and not have to apologize to anyone.

I sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by my mother’s things, looking at scrapbooks and photo albums full of black and white pictures of people I didn’t know.  I assumed they were family, but now I’d never have anyone to ask.   The books were older than me, and holding up about just as well as I was at this moment—not well at all.  The delicate pages creaked as I turned them, with loose ones trying to escape.  Why had I never looked at these before?  My grandmother’s faded handwriting described some of the events I looked at:  Christmas 1950 which looked like a happy one, Easters, First Communions.  I guess she always just assumed someone would always know who was in the pictures.  Another more recent color photo collection of a tropical vacation. I recognized my parents of course, but I couldn’t remember the name of the couple they had travelled with.

Whether I could name the people in the photos or not, these books were all that were left of my family. Everyone else had gone to a reunion in a place I hadn’t been invited to yet.  I wanted to treat these books with care during the move.  They could not be replaced.

 I placed them carefully in an old suitcase, figuring they may fair better in there than in a random free cardboard box from the liquor store.  Who knows when I’d have the guts to face these again?  Plus, the old books peculiar sizes made it tough to stack them neatly.  The suitcase had belonged to my dad, an old plaid cloth vestige too small to fit my overnight but since it was one of the few of his possessions I still had, I insisted on hanging on to it.

With a deep breath, I carefully placed the books in the suitcase. They wouldn’t lie flat. I picked them back up and patted the bottom of the case, not being able to see in my wine induced fog against the black satin.  A definite lump surfaced and I examined more closely looking for the zipper to free this mystery obstruction.

I fished a velvet box out of the secret compartment.  It looked like a ring box, which surprised me in a man’s suitcase.  The rusty hinges protested being woken from their slumber after more years that I could possibly count, but after a minute, they gave in and opened.  A bezel set blue topaz sat on its velvet bed flanked by untarnished silver florets.  A beautiful antique ring, just the type of thing my mother loved.

I wondered if she ever knew about the ring.  Had it been purchased on the vacation from the photo albums?  Did she pack it for a night out?  Whatever happened, the ring was far too pretty to be forgotten. 

Not to mention, blue topaz was my favorite stone.  No one could have known that at the time.
I slipped it on my fingers to see which one it fit best on.  The perfect fit was for my middle finger.  The same finger I wear a silver band of my mom’s on.  She had two.  She still wore the other one.

Now, a piece of my parent’s adventures could accompany on all of my adventures.  I smiled at the pretty bauble on my finger and placed the photo albums back in the now empty suitcase. 

It had been as full of memories before as it was now. Even if they weren’t mine, they belonged to me.

Follow Kristen on twitter: @KristenStrassel
Blog here: deadlyeverafter


  1. Beautiful writing. So disappointed when the story ended -- I want to read more!

  2. I will speak out of turn by saying that I know personally that this was a very difficult story for Kristen to write for the elements of truth that are in it. I'm incredibly proud of her for tackling it, and for seeing it through. I'm proud of her for lots of things.


  3. Thank you! I'm not exactly sure if I know you or not, White Gardenia, but as Julie said, you may already know the rest, since besides from a strategically placed suitcase (that exists), the story is all true.


  4. No, I was not aware, Kristen. Sometimes it helps us to write about true stories/people. With a little tweaking, we can transform those truths into fiction and I find it can be quite therapeutic.

    My story comes out tomorrow in The Memory Project ("Seashells"). Although the characters are completely fictitious, the story itself was based upon my own grief for the loss of my mother. The challenge was to tie in that random photo Carey had sent me! Thanks, Carey!

    Thank you, Kristen, for sharing this story with us.

  5. This story is so beautiful in its simplicity, Kristen. And the way you fleshed out the details--I could actually "feel" the nostalgia.

  6. Love it! So sad and poignant!


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