Jim Elm knew there were no such things as happy endings. Someone lives, someone dies, someone carries on.
Annie was a warm, loving woman who cared for Jim like a mother cares for her only son. Before they married, Annie had persuaded Jim to become a member of her church. Up until that time, Jim had not given much thought to religion of any kind, but he took her advice and was welcomed with open arms by the parishioners. When Annie up and died, Jim lost not only his wife, he lost his connection to God. As he poured her ashes into the shallow stream that ran alongside their farm, Jim turned away from God and never stepped inside a house of worship again.
Mary was a foul-mouthed, experienced woman, the polar opposite of Annie. But she had a spark that Jim found downright irresistible. She made him laugh over things he once deemed inappropriate, if not downright offensive. Mary was five feet of dynamo. Jim was six feet of boredom. She made it her goal to loosen him up. Eventually he came to embrace her mantra, which preached life is an adventure to be enjoyed each and every day. They traveled the country, sang Karaoke in smoky bars, played chess in the park, and had sex on hotel balconies in the middle of the afternoon. When Mary died, Jim found himself back to square one. He put a stop to any more shenanigans. He wanted to plant his feet back on solid ground. As he poured Mary’s ashes into the stream, he suggested that she and Annie become good friends since they had more in common than they ever could have imagined.
Jim met Grace online. She was a serious woman who had experienced her own tragedies, losing two spouses just as Jim had lost Annie and Mary. Jim hoped to be a calming influence on her but she had other things on her mind besides romance. She was intent on luring Jim into a false sense of love and to capitalize financially, as she had in the past. When Jim caught wind of her motives, he knew it was time, once again, for a change. He went to the shed to retrieve the bottle of what he jokingly referred to as The Relationship Elixir, but it was nowhere to be found.
Grace now spends her days on the front porch of the farmhouse, rocking in the chair Jim had purchased from a catalog he had never subscribed to, all the while contemplating her next move. Every so often she’ll wander down past the shed, the vegetable patch, and the flower garden to where Jim is buried. She’ll place a freshly cut rose on the makeshift tombstone that overlooks his poisoned remains, a few steps from the stream where Annie’s and Mary’s elixered ashes had been deposited. It turns out Grace is not a big fan of happy endings herself.
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