Good Narrative Principles

The Tragedy of Donnie

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IMG_2714The three grandchildren tucked in at the table ready to share sweet coffee with Yaya. She stirred in two heaping teaspoons of sugar, just the way she liked it and launched into yet another tale about her childhood and early womanhood where the rosemary grew wild and brilliant orange nasturtiums marched up the hill. She joked about entering her anecdotage but there was a measure of truth there as she found herself suddenly missing the texture, the casual heat and the smell of the refinery of all things. Yaya passed the coffee cup around. Each grandchild took a sip as she began to describe the unusual place she claimed in the family hierarchy by navigating herself to a well paying job at what might today be called engineering. Back home in Thessaloniki, they simply taught her which levers to pull when the needles moved from here to there and she did it sufficiently well to not get fired. Then she became pregnant with Donnie. Aah, now the grandchildren’s ears perked up. The story of tragic Donnie and how he was a boy with such promise was one that they were eager to hear. Instead, Yaya told them of how she marched into the boss’ office and closed the door behind her, without even an invitation or a plate of Kourabiedes to smooth the way. The very next day, she said, slapping the table with pride, they transferred me to accounting and taught me the maths I would need to do the job. Years later, the grandchildren, now grown, compared their memory of this particular tale, and wondered if somehow Yaya’s uncharacteristic gumption wasn’t tied to Donnie’s tragic end.

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