Atomic City: “Nan”

Nan was their life.  The siblings thought the small, fierce woman would never die.  

She never talked of her life before grandfather brought her home as his wife.  All they knew of her life was that she came from Scotland.  Instead, she shared with them stories from the country, sometimes folklore and other times bits of history, but never anything more personal or intimate.  Although the twins enjoyed her company and the stories that accompanied it, but she was a scandal to the family.

Nan refused to take her husband’s name, and that was the first sign of trouble.  She sneered at her in-laws, vitriol dripping from her voice and disdain in the woman’s sharp-edged glare.  Yet, there was nothing they could do about the situation.  Grandfather doted on her, nicknaming her Nan when their first grandchild was born.  She remained a life-long embarrassment to the family of status.

Her ferocious personality was the cause of the twins christening of Finlay, the boy, and Greer, the girl.  Nan doted on the children, to the exclusion of other children in the family.  They were reflecting on memories as they knelt by her grave while family members departed in haste.  Some few remained, being socially conscious of conversing on meaningless topics. Someone among them probably made certain that the service was kept short.

Finlay and Greer sighed in unison.  Few spoke to them.  They were outsiders throughout the town.  Both were polite and once attempted to be warm in dealing with others, but discontinued the practice as it obviously made people even more uncomfortable.  They shared a look of solidarity before returning to their private recollections.

Nan had made them her sole heirs, which was also supported by grandfather’s will.  He had predeceased her years before.  She was known to visit his grave often, although none could say that she was seen coming and going.

Another round of laughter came from those who remained, each of whom were slowly gravitating towards their vehicles.  Once everyone reached theirs, they would feel social honor satisfied.  The sound grated on the siblings causing them to grimace.  Neither had shed tears, but stood tall and stoic, foregoing the false expressions of sorrow from others in attendance.

Hesitantly, Finlay and Greer reached forward to scoop up a handful of earth to take away as a reminder of the day’s events.  The mementoes would also serve as a symbol of the innate disgust both had developed over a lifetime of rejection.  However, as they were drawing back, two slim, strong hands snaked out of the grave, grasping their wrists.  The grip was firm, but gentle, and was one they were quite familiar with and fond of.

“Shh, my loves.  Act as you were until we are alone.”

Finlay and Greer shared a surreptitious glance, before sly, approving, grins.

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