some things will follow you everywhere

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The last time he saw her was at the train station. Standing there wishing to sew her shadow to his feet. She wasn’t his real grandmother, but she took him in like he was her own after his real family no longer wanted him. There’s no wrong way to love except for theirs, she said in her tiny kitchen while she made him strong, bitter coffee. Hear me? They’re the ones who should be ashamed, not you. You call me Grandmama now. Mathieu was too embarrassed to see the boy again. He fell out of love quickly. He tried to make himself useful. Her house was narrow and nearly windowless, but there was a small one in the kitchen with dust-coloured curtains. She would stand there and blow smoke rings out into the alley. Spying on the neighbours and keeping warm at the stove. I fell in love with a woman once, she told him. She chuckled and leaned. She was mean, like a snake. He knew she really trusted him when she showed him the money she had hidden in her sewing kit. Three hundred dollars, you know where I found that? In a gutter when I was twelve years old. I’ve never spent it. She was raised by her father. He used to tell her, we’ll never be rich mon chou. We aren’t the kind. Dirt will follow you everywhere. She showed him the church where she got married, only three blocks away. Don’t worry, she said. Marriage isn’t so great. I left my husband after a year. She laughed when she said it and so he laughed too. She admitted later that her husband had really left her. Mathieu wished he had a photograph of her sitting there at the table telling him the ways she was unfaithful, dishonest, thieving. How she kissed women in alleyways. How she still loved her husband even after he left her. How she stole some of his things and told him he must have lost them. She leaned her head in her hand, smiling sometimes and wincing sometimes. Mathieu told her he was afraid all the time. Of being hated, of dying young, of a long lifetime running. She nodded and told him how she used to punch the back wall of her house as a child. My hands looked just like the bricks later. I could recognize home every time I made a fist. When Mathieu fell in love again, she clapped her hands and practically kicked him out of the house. Don’t you stay with me, you follow him anywhere he goes. This doesn’t happen every day. He knew she wouldn’t have done the same, but he kept quiet. He agreed. He promised to write. He left Montreal for Quebec City. When his train arrived, she pressed her three hundred dollars of gutter money into his hands.


Submitted: May 08, 2020

© Copyright 2021 C. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

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