Seeking Memphis

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16

“Her moodiness...” my mother says in a loud whisper to Aunt Arlene. “It’s those teenage hormones.”
I glare at the back of her head. She’d be moody too if she were responsible for Elvis Presley’s death.
“Shhhh,” Aunt Arlene scolds. “It’s on.”
They sit on the couch in my mother’s house trailer, suffocating me with cigarette smoke and sorrow. My cousin Lisa is sprawled across the La-Z-Boy. She hasn’t spoken all evening. Together we watch the TV flash pictures of shocked and weeping fans. I utter not a word of the heartbreak I’ve unleashed.
Living in a trailer park on the edge of a grey prairie town, I am surrounded by Elvis fans. My mother has all of his albums, watches all of his movies. Aunt Arlene, who lives three trailers down with Lisa, had even gone to Vegas to see him in the flesh, bringing back a rhinestone that had fallen off his outfit. And Lisa is always boasting she shares the same name as Elvis’s daughter.
Months ago, because she had no money, Lisa got me to buy a cheap paperback Elvis biography. We read it together on my bed while sucking jawbreakers and listening to top hits on the radio – hits that never included Elvis tunes.
Then it happened. I realized I didn’t like Elvis. Not one bit of him. So yesterday, the third day of an August heat wave and two weeks before my fourteenth birthday, I sat in my bedroom holding the Elvis book in one hand and scissors in the other. I cut each page, slicing first across the middle, then up along the spine. I watched as the pages, all 218 of them, floated down onto the orange shag.
This afternoon I found out Elvis was dead. I’d killed him, page by page by page.
I figured it worked something like voodoo magic. With each snip I unleashed my dislike, my discontent, my restlessness. It flew from my room and was carried by hot August winds high above the Alberta prairie. It slipped unnoticed over the border into Montana, sped over states I’d never seen, then slid somewhere over the rainbow in Dorothy’s Kansas, blasting into Tennessee, seeking Memphis, ripping into Graceland. And, finally into the very heart of Elvis himself.
The TV flashes more images. “The world will never be the same,” one fan wails.
My mother nods in agreement. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
“Long live the king,” Aunt Arlene quietly proclaims.
Lisa’s face brightens, suddenly remembering. She snaps herself upright in the armchair and speaks for the first time this evening. “Hey, Pam?” she asks me. “Where’s that Elvis book?”
Without answering, I bolt outside into the evening heat.
Beyond the rows of tired trailers and dusty pick-up trucks, I spy the juicy yellow of a canola field. A welcome breeze lifts my hair. Poplar leaves flutter. A change is happening. I know it.

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Image of Llwe
Llwe · ago
A lovely read. Thankyou.
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Image of Ann Sutherland
Ann Sutherland · ago
Thanks so much!
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Image of AAA
AAA · ago
Beautiful write up. I simply love it
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Image of Ann Sutherland
Ann Sutherland · ago
Thank you for reading!
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Image of Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds · ago
A gripping story well written, Ann ! Love it! I am taking part in the Button Fiction –Spring Contest with my very short story, “The Awakening”. I invite you to read it and support it if you like it. Thanks in advance! https://short-edition.com/en/story/3-min/the-awakening-1
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Image of Ann Sutherland
Ann Sutherland · ago
Thank you for your kind words! All the best in the Button Fiction contest.
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Image of Keith Simmonds
Keith Simmonds · ago
I would like to get your appreciation of "The Awakening" also ! Thanks in advance !
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Image of Operamom
Operamom · ago
I like the way you got inside the head of a 14-year old teenager in such a short time. I could really picture the pages floating across the states. Good job!
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Image of Ann Sutherland
Ann Sutherland · ago
Thank you!
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Image of Herker_hermelin
Herker_hermelin · ago
I suppose Jack Daniel's had its responsability too in the king's death...
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