Phallon watched the fish swim in the pond his Grandpa had installed in his backyard. He enjoyed visiting his Grandpa each Saturday. Grandpa had put the pond in because young Phallon loved the fish so much as a toddler; ‘fishes’ had been his first word.
Now he sat with Grandpa who asked him about school and of course the girls in his school. Uncomfortable, Phallon wished Grandpa didn’t ask him about that.
Grandpa simply laughed,”Phallon, I’m only teasing you. It’s good you have friends who are girls and that there are girls you like. This Jennifer, have you asked her out?”
Phallon’s face turned red, “Yeah we’ve gone to a movie together and bowling. I want her to be my girlfriend but her parents say she’s too young to have a boyfriend.”
Grandpa nodded a smile on his face, “You’ll find the right one when you’re older. When I saw your Grandma the first time, my heart lept out of my chest. I wonder if I will ever meet that right girl of yours and see you marry her?”
Phallon felt uncomfortable again, “Why wouldn’t you be there Grandpa? You’re only eighty-one?”
Grandpa patted Phallon’s hand then squeezed it, “You know, my boy, I’ve been sick a long time. It’s a battle I’ve mostly conquered, but my strength is waning these days.When you get married someday, think of your old Grandpa, okay?” Phallon nodded feeling a lump in his throat.
Two-years later Grandpa succumbed. Phallon was sixteen and felt raw inside. He returned to the fish pond in Grandpa’s back yard. He noticed the fishes were floating and the reality of life made tears wet his cheeks. In the mess of the last two weeks including Grandpa’s funeral, no one had remembered to feed the fish.
(I truly meant for this to be Flash Fiction, but the story just developed. Sorry about the way – over word count.)
Grandma June huffed at Natalie, her granddaughter visiting her at home.”You’re not getting any younger, you’re thirty-eight. You can’t barely have babies anymore!”
Natalie rolled her eyes at Grandma June,”Gran, I’m an elementary school teacher. I like going home and not having to worry about kids.”
June sighed,”It was that man, you were supposed to marry. He’s a thief and stole your heart; I’m right aren’t I?”
Natalie ignored June’s question. She hated when her Grandma or anyone, talked about Christopher. She’d never admit he was her one.
He hadbeen since she was in grade ten and Christopher an attractive senior in high school. It was when he had first asked Natalie out. They’d broken-up, having had incompatible lives with Christopher away at university soon after.
Then, seven-years-ago, they’d ran into each other and started talking and dating again. Natalie had convinced herself this was finally it. Sadly, a few weeks before the wedding, Christopher had disappeared; the memories were agony for her.
Two-week’s later, Grandma June called Natalie up to invite her to a wine and cheese night she was hosting for her neighbours. She had tried to decline but June was adamant Natalie attend.
She arrived at her Grandma June’s surprisingly lively wine party, in jeans and a white t-shirt. She had barely bothered to apply makeup as Natalie had come from the gym and was worn out.
“Oh you came,” Grandma June said excitedly, approaching Natalie as she let herself inside. She hugged June and kissed her cheek, as June poured Natalie a large glass of red wine and filled her plate with bread and cheese. She winked at Natalie and left her alone in a small sitting room to rest before joining the other guests.
“Natalie?” A deep voice said. She turned on the sofa towards the sitting room door. Christopher’s voice shocked her, she had almost doused herself in red wine. His familiar timber filled Natalie with great pain. She peered up at him feeling raw, as if he’d only left her yesterday without explanation.
Tears began dripping down Natalie’s cheeks; she was crying and couldn’t stop herself. Christopher immediately sat down on the sofa beside Natalie and pulled her close; he wiped her tears away with his thumb. She tried to jerk out of his arms, but he wouldn’t let her move.
“I’m not letting you go, ever again,” Christopher swore.”I can’t explain much about why I had to leave you, only that I didn’t have a choice.”
Natalie shoved him hard, “You have nothing more to say, nothing at all?”
Christopher was noticeably upset, “I told you I worked as an IT consultant. But I could never tell you or anyone who I worked for until recently. I worked for Special Forces in the army and I was called out to a job. It’s the only thing I can’t about. The job lasted years, and I wasn’t allowed to contact anyone. We saved countless lives, but it was awful what I did to you and being without you. I’m sorry.”
Natalie rubbed her swollen eyes, “You’re a liar Christopher. You could’ve mentioned something, anything. What do you want now? To stay for a while and then leave?To rip me apart again?”
Christopher buried his face in his hand, before gazing up at her: “I’m out now Natalie. I swear to you I work for regular businesses now, nothing to do with Special Forces or the army. I’ve no more secrets other than experiences of war and blood. I came back here for you, I even moved into a house on your Grandma June’s street. I hoped somehow, you and I could be together again. I love you.”
Natalie made a sound of frustration. Emotions of both anger and feeling relieved assaulted her. Despite her anger at Christopher, Natalie knew inside, there would never be another man for her but him.
To Christopher’ surprise, Natalie moved to sit in Christopher’s lap and be closer to him, to breathe in how delicious he smelt.
“Marry me now and we can do whatever celebration our families want later. I’m still mad at you Christopher but you’re it for me. I’ve always loved you and always will. If you can be with me and never leave me like that again, I can forgive you.”
Christopher nodded at Natalie, saying: “I promise.” He held Natalie tightly and kissed her lips hungrily.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the sitting room door and Grandma June walked in, a smile on her face. June’s boyfriend Nigel was with her and so was the local United Church minister.
Natalie looked at Christopher, “Did you do all this?”
Christopher shook his head, squeezing Natalie tight and kissing her cheek. He pulled out a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring set from his pocket. He slid the engagement ring on Natalie’s finger, and Grandma June handed Natalie a ring which had been her Grandfather’s wedding ring.
June smiled at Natalie and Christopher, a gleam in her clever blue-eyes. All was at it should be, she thought as her and Nigel witnessed her granddaughter’s wedding ceremony.
Jessica and Paul grew up together in Kelowna. Both of them had spent a lot of time learning to snowboard. At nineteen-years-old, Jessica could easily catch big air and do tricks.She often went freeriding down the mountain with Paul.
Jessica was worried because she had not seen Paul in two days. It was unusual for him not to contact her. She took the bus down Big White and thought she might go to Paul’s place.
Suddenly, the bus stopped. They were “within a mile-and-a-half of the service roads when [the bus driver spotted a man],” lying on the side of the road. Jessica got off the bus. Recognizing the man’s face she saw it was Paul. Tears slid down her cheeks.
“I love you Paul. Please be okay,” Jessica cried.” We are supposed to go to the next Winter Olympics together. You’re supposed to marry me.”
The RCMP arrived then and a female officer gently pulled Jessica away from Paul. “How do you know this man?” asked the officer.
“He was my boyfriend. We grew up together.” The officer squeezed her shoulder.
After an autopsy was completed Jessica found out why Paul had died. He had had an aneurysm in his brain; it ruptured. Jessica was shattered.
Thanks to Roger Shipp for hosting this flash fiction challenge.