….not me. If you remember, about a month ago I entered a flash fiction writing contest. I wrote two stories and posted the one I didn’t submit. I found out this weekend that, unfortunately, I didn’t win. The prize was a ticket to see one of my writing idols speak, so this was definitely a crushing blow for me. Anyway, after a weekend of sulking I am going to push forward. I wanted to share with you the story that I submitted. I hope you enjoy it.
The brisk November wind picked up just as Riley reached the deli. She opened the door and was met with aromas that brought her back to days spent in her grandmother’s kitchen. She had been coming to this deli every Thursday for the past four years. Sal winked at her as he handed her a brown bag containing two Reuben’s and two pickles. She left two twenties on the counter and said “See you next week, Sal” and rushed out the door.
The nursing home was a ten-minute walk from the deli and she zipped up her coat as she headed down the sidewalk. Even though it had been a year since Grandpa Joe passed, she still came to “their” bench every Thursday. The first time she did it after he passed was out of habit and when she realized what she’d done, she sat and cried for an hour. After a few weeks she admitted to herself that being in “their” place brought her peace, so she continued their weekly tradition.
When she finally reached the bench overlooking the pond, she was relieved to see it was empty. Some days she didn’t mind the company, but today wasn’t one of those days. Today she needed to think and reflect on the big decision that was facing her. She laughed as she pulled her sandwich out of the brown paper bag, like the routine of still coming to their bench, she couldn’t seem to stop buying his Reuben every week. Normally she would bring the extra sandwich up to one of the residents, but today she wouldn’t have to go too far because before she even finished half of it, an old man sat down next to her.
“Beautiful day,” he said.
“Yes, it is. Are you meeting someone? If so, I can move.”
She felt guilty being there since she wasn’t really visiting anyone.
“I think so,” he replied.
She wasn’t sure how to respond and before she could say anything, he spoke again.
“Last night was my first night here, no family left to care for me. I was feeling sad until I dreamt of an old friend I haven’t seen since our Navy days. He begged me to come and sit on this bench today. I have a message to deliver.”
“Really? That sounds interesting,” she played along, “what was the message?”
“Remember high hopes. I have no idea what it means, though.”
She knew what it meant. A tear rolled down her cheek at the memory. That was their song. Grandpa Joe loved Sinatra. Whenever she was having a bad day or didn’t think she could do something, he’d sing that song to her. A warmth filled her knowing that their bond transcended even death. She choked back the sob that was forming in her throat, “It’s getting kind of chilly out here, care to join me inside for lunch?”
“Thank you, but I really need to deliver my message.”
“I think you already did.”