Flash Fiction Friday is a weekly roundup of quickly-written fiction, 1000 words or less. Our host is Suzanne Warr and her blog, Tales from the Raven. Go here to read all the entries! Flash Fiction Friday
Today's prompt: Show parental love–mother, father, or other parental figure.
Of Love and Lunch
by Rebecca Blevins
Adam packed the lunch box--the slightly dented one featuring My Little Pony. He had picked up a new Disney Princess lunchbox so Grace wouldn’t have to use Ella’s old one from kindergarten, but Grace still preferred the well-used box. He should’ve known. She never missed a My Little Pony show, and the family DVD shelf was lined with every episode ever made.
He wiped out the dust and assembled a Soynut butter and jelly sandwich (there was a no-nut policy due to allergies, thankfully Grace liked Soynut butter), then cut it in triangles. What for a snack? Adam thought he’d had it all under control, but he should have known he’d forget something. He didn’t mind; it was just a new routine to get used to. After all, Trish had done the difficult job of getting Grace ready to go before Trish had to be at work. Grace was now in the living room watching a My Little Pony DVD, and all Adam had to do was make lunch.
After a bit of rummaging through the containers of prepped, healthy foods his wife spent Sunday assembling, Adam found some apple slices that had been dipped in lemon water so they wouldn’t go brown. Grace was very picky about brown fruit. He pulled a couple of strawberry Newtons out of the cupboard and wrapped them in some plastic film. It was difficult for Grace to open even the zippered snack bags, so they tried to pack everything in cling wrap.
Adam finally filled the thermos with milk, then shut the lunchbox and put on his coat. He went to the living room with Grace’s warm jacket. She sat mesmerized at the My Little Pony antics, her thinning gray hair wispy and fully dry from Trish’s washing this morning. “It’s time to go, Grace.” He held out the jacket and helped her into it. Then he moved her walker close and helped her get up. Her aged hands gripped the bar firmly.
“Already? But I don’t want to go. I’ll be just fine here. My show’s not over.” Grace wrinkled up her lined face and kicked at one of the green tennis balls on the bottom of the walker's feet. She teetered slightly, and Adam steadied her while she regained her grip on the walker.
He rubbed a hand over his face. “I know, I know. We’ve talked about this a lot. Greenwood is a great place for you to go and make new friends. Trish will pick you up at the end of the day, and you can tell us about all the fun you had!"
Grace frowned and her bent shoulders sagged even further. “Fine.” She pointed to the box in Adam’s hand. Her face brightened. “Is that my Pony lunchbox?”
“Okay,” she said. “I guess we can go now.”
They made it slowly out the door to the car, then drove to Greenwood Senior Daycare. Adam helped Grace inside, where a very kind woman named Merri took Grace down the hall to her new classroom. Adam watched them go, then realized he was still holding the My Little Pony lunchbox.
“Wait!” he called, and ran to them. “You don’t want to forget your lunch.”
Grace hugged the lunchbox to her chest. Merri said, “Grace, I’ll show you the special place we have for you to put your lunch. Would you like that?”
The older woman nodded.
As Adam watched, they went down the hall and disappeared into a room. His eyes filled with tears as he remembered how she used to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for his school lunches. She’d always cut his sandwiches the special way—in triangles—and arranged them just so in his He-Man lunchbox. He never thought he’d see the day when he couldn’t even call her Mom without confusing her, most days.
He felt someone squeeze his shoulder and turned to find a kind-looking nurse. She handed him a tissue.
She patted him as he blew his nose. “They grow up fast, don’t they.”
He let out a small chuckle, trying to hide the tears. “You don’t say.”
The nurse handed him another tissue and gave him one last pat. “Don’t worry. We’ll take great care of her.” He nodded, and the nurse left. Adam stood, alone, staring at beige linoleum and bright paintings which lined the ivory corridor.
He walked back to the entrance, punched in the code to let himself out, and went to his car. The summer air was already warm. After he started the engine and got the air conditioning going, he took a moment to compose himself, then turned on some music and began the drive to his office. The doctor had been clear that if Trish and Adam didn’t want to put Grace in a home, this would be their routine for a long time..
He hoped it would be a very, very, very long time.