Ms. Holly’s Electric Bill

22 Dec

    In her late eighties, Ms. Holly invited me over one evening for conversation and a glass of wine.  Upon my arrival, Ms. Holly politely greeted me at the door.  After being asked for my coat and hat, I was escorted to the living room and instructed to be seated.  I chose the couch instead of one of the many decoratively upholstered chairs. Ms. Holly quickly left the room which was well-lit with five or six lamps, some on end tables, and others on tall, ornate stands.


    Ms. Holly returned with a glass of wine in one hand, and in the other, a glass of water. She offered me the glass of wine. She started talking immediately, speaking without pause, walking towards her high-back chair. As she turned and sat down, she stated: “This is my opinion on very important matters.” She covered topics ranging from politics, family, and religion, to the economy and the new world order. At no time did she ask me what my thoughts were. Ms. Holly was very specific in her speech, using colorful words and illustrative detail. Although sometimes redundant, she was consistent in every repetition. Regardless, she hopped from one subject to the next, and suddenly, with quite the verbal grace and bow, splinter into a new conversation about her “opinion on a very important matter.” 


    Captured in the wonderful web of her experiences, imagination, and reality, I was finally asked: “So, what do you think?” Everything she related, positive or negative, seemed to be under Ms. Holly’s control, with its remarkable, opinionated unpredictability. Despite my interest in and enjoyment of her fascinating conversations, subjects discussed with redundancy stuck most in my memory. They were repeated so often that I remember them.


    I said, “The electric bill – it keeps going up and up and you can’t explain it! Is there any way you could cut the cost?” “I’ve tried everything,” she confidently stated as she got up, motioning with her hand towards the kitchen and left to refill her empty glass with water.


    I got up and turned off two or three lights in the room, then proceeded to join Ms. Holly in the kitchen. The kitchen was easy to find, well-lit with five or six lights. She nodded upon my entrance and continued to fill her glass with water. I began to turn off one or two lights before she sternly asked me, “What are you doing?” “Saving electricity!” I replied. “Let’s go in the other room,” she said, “and let me explain to you about life and the All living.”


    Upon entering the room, Ms. Holly turned on the lamps I had turned off.  I sat down, and in posture for debate and conversation, before Ms. Holly could sit or speak, I said, “You mentioned many times the cost of your electricity, and how that was your most unexplainable cost. So I went around turning some of the lights off, to lower your bill, incurred with keeping so many lights on.” There was a moment of silence. Ms. Holly arose, and then offered me her arm. She escorted me to the front door, handing me my hat and coat, explaining to me as we strolled, “I am alone… having all the lights on, with or without the electric bill, brings me comfort, anticipation, and peace. My best friend… my late friend, and my late Angel are still expected home.”


    Yes, Ms. Holly and I continued to talk often, with me, sipping my wine, listening intently; and her, drinking her water and telling me “her opinion on very important matters.”  Inevitably, the “electric bill” would come up, and of course, as I cleared my throat she would creatively, in the wink of an eye, divert the conversation. However, she continued to end our visits by offering me my hat and coat, stating, “I look forward to our next conversation, and, by the way, I’m still keeping the lights on.”

This Sunday, I discovered that all Ms. Holly’s expected guests had arrived.

    For now, I will keep my lights on and give “my opinion on very important matters,” particularly concerning the cost of my electric bill, which I cannot explain. I’m thinking, perhaps, Ms. Holly really had a better understanding of it. So, I sit with a smile and a heart full of joy in a well-lit house, waiting for my guests to arrive. I sit with great expectation.

Wind follows the stream

Electricity on trees

All has arrived.


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9 responses to “Ms. Holly’s Electric Bill

  1. M

    January 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    well-spoken, well written, and poignant ~


  2. gillena

    January 3, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    All l leave a light on duringbthe night. It certainlynis a very warming practice. I enjoyed your haibun today.
    Thank you for linking to my Sunday Lime.
    Very best wishes for a happy and creative 2016 🌼

    Much love…


  3. Donna@Living From Happiness

    January 3, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Some how I missed this delightful story….it reminded me of my talks with my grandmother. She was living alone in a senior apt after my grandfather had passed. I passed her apt often on my way to and from community college and I would stop, take her shopping and stay for lunch and conversation. I look back on those times and wish I had stopped more often. Thank you for this beautiful memory!


  4. frederick anderson

    December 29, 2015 at 6:07 am

    I warm to Ms Holly. You bring her to life for me so ably, I cannot doubt her. All the best for the season, Sir, and may 2016 bring much more of your work.


  5. dsnake1

    December 25, 2015 at 9:55 am

    some of us do have reasons to leave our lights on at night. but we certainly do have to watch out for that electricity bill. always loved what you write.

    Best wishes to you, my friend. 🙂


  6. Susan Chast

    December 25, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Mysterious, isn’t it? We manifest what we believe in. Merry Christmas, dear poet!


  7. Sherry Marr

    December 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    I. So. ADORE. this poem!!!!!!!! I can relate to Ms. Holly, as I regard certain lights as my friends too – for comfort, for companionship, and to light up a window in case my old wolf dog is out there somewhere trying to find me. I love the thought of you sitting in your well-lit house, waiting for your guests to arrive. Yay!


  8. philyoungmacrc

    December 23, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    What a great short story about Ms. Holly and her tales. Thank you for posting this.


  9. Mike Gordon

    December 22, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    What a nice vignette of life and great reminder of all of the Ms. Holly’s we have all known. I haven’t thought of Ms. Wilson until now. She was a neighbor lady when I was a youngster. A former prostitute with a heart of gold. Thanks for the story and memory!



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