The Ugly Sweatpants

For authors, by authors, one word at a time

The Ugly Sweatpants

July 27, 2012 Writing 22

Dear Morgan,

Words do not even begin to describe the depth of my love for you. I miss you greatly, more than you miss me, if you can fathom that. As a sign of my love, I am sending you my greatest treasure here. Please wear them whenever you miss me and it will be as if I am right there by your side.

I trust them to you, so please take good care of them.

Love forever and always,

Your soldier

Morgan held the letter to her nose for a moment, hoping for some scent of him, and was disappointed. She put the letter down and turned toward the traditional brown box that had come with the letter. She cut the rope with growing excitement. The box opened. She pulled the tissue out until she came to the prize. She lifted out the ugliest pair of sweatpants she’d ever seen. The fact that they were camouflage didn’t bother her as much as that they had a big cuff on the ankle, rather than just ending in elastic. The worst part was the splotches of bleach on one leg that turned the camouflage into a gross mucus yellow-green. Her nose wrinkled despite her attempt to love them. After all, they were John’s, and it was as close to John as she could get at this moment.

After a long, deep sigh and a swipe at the lone tear that trekked down her face, Morgan put the sweatpants back in the box. The telephone rang.

“Hello?” she answered.

“Morgan, it’s Amelia, John’s mother,” Morgan’s heart froze as she heard sniffling through the earpiece. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. Are you sitting down?”

Morgan moved to the couch. “I am now. Please, Amelia, tell me!”

“A roadside bomb exploded as John’s unit was passing through.  I’m afraid John didn’t survive. He’s gone, Morgan. He’s gone!”

The clock’s second hand moved twice around the clock before she could speak. “There’s no doubt?” She didn’t want to believe. She prayed that there had been a mistake. Another spin around the clock and Amelia answered.

“There’s no doubt. Why, Morgan, why? Why did we let him go? Four tours were enough. He didn’t need to endanger his future anymore. Why! Why did he go?”

Morgan squeezed her eyes shut, forcing the tears banking her lids to fall. “He knew the risks, Amelia. He was aware of the hazards. He wanted to go.”

A lump rose in her throat, and she swallowed hard, choking back a new barrage of tears. “We couldn’t have stopped him. As much as we loved him,” she moved to the box again, fingering the sweatpants inside it, “we couldn’t have stopped him if we tried.”

She pulled the sweatpants out of the box, hung up the phone, and cradled them to her chest, finally giving in to her grief.

The sweatpants crumpled beneath her weight, and she felt something in the pocket. Fresh tears coursed down her face as she pulled out a small pebble. She’d found it on their first date. She never realized he’d kept it all this time. It was smoother than she remembered and she realized that he had held it often.

The funeral approached quickly. Morgan laid out her little black dress carefully, the one John loved so much, but the ugly sweatpants kept catching her eye. She rubbed the pebble for a few minutes, ignoring the tears, then dressed. She smiled as she locked her front door.

When she arrived at the small funeral home, she rubbed the pebble again, took a deep breath, and stood, swinging one gross yellow-green panted leg out of the car, before bringing the other camouflaged one beside it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week’s Write on Edge prompt directed us to write A stand-alone scene, fiction or memoir, in 500 words or less, involving a handwritten letter.

This week’s 3 Word Wednesday words were Cut, Endanger, Hazard.

Studio 30+ gives 2 writing prompts every week. This is my response to Ugly Sweatpants.

 

I welcome and appreciate constructive criticism. Please share your thoughts in a comment.

Thanks for stopping in!!

 

22 Responses

  1. Oh this one was hard for me. Cut way too close to home.

    Aside from that, this is a truly heartwarming story. And I’d give anything for a pair of sweatpants of my own.

    Well done!

  2. cait says:

    Oh. So. Sad. At the beginning I was thinking “man, her guy is NOT a romantic”…and then at the end?! Ohhh. I loved it how she wore the pants to the funeral. So brave of her.

    • SAM says:

      It was not my intended direction when I started, but my stories have a way of changing on me. It.s sad but ends with happiness, in a way.

  3. Lucy says:

    I loved the way you incorporated three challenges into one! That’s always fun to do. Wonderful story. The sadness was so real that I was feeling it as I was reading and loved the way you made me finish it with a smile! Well done.

  4. Eric Storch says:

    I have to wonder…did he know his time was short? Did he place the pebble in those pants on purpose? Was that the real “greatest treasure?”

  5. Cameron says:

    I think maybe sending your favorite ugly sweatpants is the most romantic thing ever. To then couple it with loss and a truly genuine expression of grief and love? Nicely done.

  6. This is such a sad, yet heartwarming story. I love the ugly sweatpants.
    And I love her understanding; “we couldn’t have stopped him…”
    The pebble was perfect.

    • SAM says:

      I think Morgan is a little bit of me, though I’m not sure how I would respond in this situation. It’s a tell on her personality though (and thus mine, right?)

      Thanks for stopping in!!

  7. Tessa says:

    I loved this story although it makes me want to cry. I loved that she wore the pants to the funeral and the pebble was a wonderful touch. So sweet!

  8. gabriella8 says:

    It is the stone that is the compass. True north. Beautiful story!

  9. Carrie says:

    Oh, the pants! The horrible ugly, super romantic pants!!

    Such a sweet story SAM. Loved how you gave that wallop with his death and then the tribute by wearing the pants.

  10. Wisper says:

    Ouch. This was incredible. I think you expressed the pain and loss so well. This, for me too, hit rather close to home, though not quite as direct. Great job!

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