Lottie could see she was becoming the unlikeable person to a greater degree, daily. Each time she opened her mouth, she said something vile, and whoever was within earshot seemed to like her a little less. These could be coworkers—these could be people she barely stomached (a compliment, trust me). Even if she didn’t say anything, even if all she did was have a look on her face, it was perceived by others as objectionable. In the scarce attempts at becoming likeable for four whole seconds – more than that was impossible – it proved itself draining. Bucking the trend isn’t exactly healthy, is it? Besides, she long ago made peace with who she was.

People often asked me: “Why can’t she be more pleasant?” “Did the world somehow escape her?” Facts are, that melancholy lay in the reality of her lifelong circumstance—not so much within the blues and greens of the world’s land and water. Not in the many tones of earth which often originate from clay pigments. Not in the colors such as umber, ochre, and sienna, but in the hardships. The ones that quickly seeped into her amygdala and turned her once mental soundness into a pewter tangle of misfiring neurons.

She may have become more acidic simply by growing older. But I believe that Lottie faded long ago, trying to dodge her destitution— it’s a hard thing for even the springiest of chickens. Nonetheless, resisting no longer made sense. Especially if assumptions were the things that uninvitingly became front and centre. One might as well lean into it, as into a cold wind. And that she did with an unspoilt success.

I’m her brother, therefore she hasn’t the vote available to like me or not. Even though she predictably tries her hardest to push me away. I join her for lunch weekly because we both share an unspoken affinity for French fries. She may not give me her thanks, but this matters not because I’ll always love her just much as I love my chips with vinegar. She’s just my only necessary condiment.

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
11 months ago

Hello Melissa – This is an interesting story about a woman who has become bitter and hardened by her difficult life of poverty. Thank heavens for her brother, who still loves her, like he loves his fries and vinegar! But I wonder why he never helped her out when she was in such need?

I like some of your unique phrases, such as “a pewter tangle of misfiring neurons.” The word pewter here is so effective and so unusual in this context.

Do people really eat fries with vinegar? Is the vinegar already on the fries? I’ve never heard of that combination.

Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
11 months ago

Melissa, I think you are right about people not knowing what to say or do. I am so sorry that some of your friends and family have disappeared after your cancer diagnosis . I began my own cancer journey in 2008. Happily, many amazing people rallied round, family not so much so. The main thing to remember is that you are not alone. It might be encouraging for you to know that I’m still here, happy and healthy, thirteen years after my rather dire diagnosis. I wrote a series of articles to help people on the cancer journey – maybe these writings, poems and pictures could be of some help and comfort to you. Here’s the link: https://voice.club/harmonia-healing

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
11 months ago

I hope you never feel guilty about sharing. I learned long ago that most people appreciate the opportunity to expresses kindness and caring. Some of our challenges seem to come in different sizes and depths of despair, but they are all very real and are part of our frail yet resilient humanity. By the way, some of the suggestions in my articles apply to everyone, with or without cancer. It’s always a good idea to rid our lives of toxins!

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris(@julie-harris)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
11 months ago

It’s amazing how full of meaning that one word is: “pewter”. I think we can all visualize colors and feel their associations. I have to admit I have no idea what “amygdala” means, but in this context I can understand, especially with the “pewter tangle” reference. Google, here I come.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
11 months ago

This story is so fascinating, Melissa. And your vocabulary really helps me a lot to learn and understand more English words. Thumbs up for always giving us a brilliant story. Well done. 

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Melissa Taggart
11 months ago

You’re welcome, Melissa.

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