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The Kindly Grandmother

by Michael Mayr 6 months ago in Short Story
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The one person I hope I don’t disappoint is the Kindly Grandmother...

The house was old, very old. Cluttered and lived in. It looked like something from an old black-and-white picture in the country. A place from an earlier, better time. Oh it was a harder time to be sure. People were poor and they had to work hard. But it was a better time. A time before the rot took hold and we became the dystopian degraded folk we are today…

I see myself from the outside, like I was somebody else watching this. I know this and I realize it. I am a child again. I hated being a child. I hate the memory of it even now. Most people miss their childhood. I both miss and hate mine. I miss my friends but I do not miss the pain. I remember being gentle and weak. Some would call it kind, but I call it weak. It was a time when I viewed the world as a good place. It was before the hatred and loneliness broke me. It was before the rage that filled the back part of me was there. I hated that time and I hated that boy, the child who I once was. In fact, I think I will always hate him.

I wait. It is a cool day. Late October maybe? The leaves have changed. They are the gold, red, brown and green of autumn. Beautiful. The sun shines through them and I enjoy the colors. I wait.

I look at my pants, Sears brand jeans. Called tough skins. I remember these pants. Odd, how I remember these pants even in a dream. Because this must be a dream because I am that hated boy again. And I can watch myself like in a movie. Not only that, I know that I can see myself. So this must be a dream.

I see someone else. She comes from around the back. An old lady. Tall, heavy set. With a steel gray ponytail pulled back tight. She wears a faded pink house dress with a floral print. The kind of dress that comes with an apron. She is plain, but…kindly. She has a big smile and strong, brown eyes.

“Hello,” she says. “I have been waiting for you.”

“You have?” I answered perplexed. “Do I know you?”

“No. But I have known you. I have always known you.” She is almost amused.

“Who are you?” I ask, suddenly fearful.

The kindly old woman smiles at me. She doesn’t answer with words but with that smile.

Suddenly I am very scared. I take a step back. “This is not a dream is it?” I ask, afraid of the answer.

“No. No it is not. But you are not awake either.” The old woman says to me.

“So I am dead?” I reply suddenly calm. “I thought I'd have more time”. I whisper almost to myself.

“Your kind always does. But no child you are not dead. Close. In fact you were dead. But not now.” She tells me. At this last pronouncement my mind fills with images. I almost swoon but she holds me upright, her right hand strong on my shoulder.

“Wha-what? What do you want from me?” I ask her hoarsely.

“There will be a boy. A very special boy. A terrible time is coming for him.” She says.

“A boy?” I asked, confused, “what boy?”

“He is a boy now. Like you are a boy now, child” She says.

“You mean he is a man?” I ask.

“Yes child. And this special boy will one day need a friend. You need to be that friend.” She tells me gravely.

“Is that all? You want me to be someone’s friend?” I ask. “That is not so hard.”

“Oh no. It is more important than you realize child.” She replies.

The kindly old woman looks past me and says: “It’s time child. You need to go now. Follow the stairs.” I turn to look at a set of winding stairs. It will take me time to climb these – but where did they come from? I start toward them and I stop to look back at her. She seems farther away now. Certainly I did not walk this far already?

“Remember child. Remember what I said. Be that friend.” She calls after me.

I wave and then keep walking, that is the last I see of the Kindly Grandmother. That is what I have taken to calling her.

I would soon awake into a world of confusion. I did not know the year. I did not know my age. After all, I had been gone for years. Hadn't I? And the things I saw and the places I had been. Even now my heart beats faster at those memories. But those are tales for another night.

But one thing I do not have as often is that feeling: an almost fear, a fear mated to a sense of disassociation like I am looking at life from the outside. That is fading. And that makes me sad. Because I want that feeling. Is it time that is taking this feeling from me? Or rationality? The world of “reason” telling me what I experienced was simply caused by medication. A drug induced coma is a crazy time. It was nothing special, I mean that would be crazy, right?

And the special boy? The boy who will need a friend…I wonder who that is? Only time will tell. And I hope I get it right. Because for a reason I cannot articulate, of all the people I have disappointed in life: my parents, my wife, my children, my friends...myself. The one person I hope I don’t disappoint is the Kindly Grandmother...

Short Story

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Michael Mayr

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