Face

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Writing and Reviewing!

a short story written for the review chain contest. 778 words.

The night swept in, almost unnoticed. It was as if the moment I took my eyes off it, the sun hid away. I didn’t have much time left. We would have to leave soon. I remember my father giving me the horrible news when I got off the bus. He didn’t bother mincing words. A lot of people came to the funeral. So many faces I didn’t recognize. She was there, at the front of the room, resting in her coffin—my grandmother. I didn’t dare look at her. Some people walked up to the coffin. My father didn’t. He remained in his seat the entire time. He was wearing that face.

I let my mind drift. I wandered an empty house, my mind filled in the blanks as I went. This was her spare bedroom. I would often sleep there when I stayed the night. This was her study. She had so many books. This room she watched tv in. She couldn’t do it in the living room; it had to have its own room. The once white walls were stained and faded. Parts of the ceiling hung low. In certain areas, the floor was on the verge of falling through. The place was a mess.

My grandmother’s room was in the back of the house. My father was inside. He was in the corner. I looked around. I’d avoided this room until now. I didn’t want to disturb him. Her king-sized bed was gone. I remembered running into the room and jumping onto it. She’d scold me for ruining the bed she spent so long setting. The walls were empty. I recalled the dozens of paintings she was so proud of. She could talk for hours about every single one of them. She could talk about anything, and suddenly it’d be the most interesting thing in the world. She had a way of capturing the room with her soft but stern voice. I found myself gazing at the wall.

My father moved, catching my attention. He was wearing that face. That face demanded silence. You could see it happen, like the flick of a switch. His face would stiffen like an ironed shirt. His eyes would nearly glaze over. His lips would set. At that point, argument is meaningless. I’d seen that face many times. He walked out of the room without a word. I was alone. I could see the night through the bedroom window. Outside was that place. The funeral. The casket. She was there, resting. No. My grandmother was dead. I blinked, raising a hand to my face. My grandmother is dead. She’s dead. She died. She isn’t alive. She won’t be here anymore. I’m never going to see her again. I’m never going to hear her again. I’m never going to feel her again.

Suddenly, the room changed. The walls were stocked with various landscape paintings. Her bed sat prominently in the middle of the room. The room glowed with life. I reached out, running a hand along the bedframe. I heard something from the hallway. I left the room, looking around. I touched the pristine white wall as I walked alongside it. I reached the tv room. Her old tv was on, playing a black and white show about cowboys. She loved that show. There was a cup of fresh tea on the table beside her favorite chair. My smaller chair was beside it. I lingered in the doorway for a moment. I heard another sound, further down, her voice.

I continued down the hallway, passing the bathroom and her china cabinet. The hallway was humming. Her study was up ahead, the door ajar. Inside was her desk and several bookshelves overstocked with all kinds of books. A photo of her and my grandfather was displayed on her desk. I caught a glimpse of her behind me as she disappeared into the living room. I approached hesitantly, the hum growing louder. I peeked around the corner into the living room. It was empty. The house was silent. My father was on the floor, his face in his hands. I hesitated. She appeared, standing behind him. She smiled at me and motioned me forward. I took an uncertain step and then another. I was walking towards him. He looked up. His face was beet red, and his eyes were full of tears. I knelt in front of him.

I placed a hand on his. He looked over at me. I offered him a smile. His lip quivered, but he gave a soft smile. I stood up. He stood as well. Together, we stepped out into the aisle and approached the coffin.


Submitted: February 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Matthew Hair. All rights reserved.

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Comments

XCulletto

Beautiful imagery here--you really capture the essence of grandma's house. I also like the subtle nuances of the different relationships. Superb.

Mon, February 22nd, 2021 7:33pm

Greythereadaholic

There's so much great imagery in this story that shows the main character had a close relationship with the grandmother and misses her without needing to directly say that. I especially like towards the end when the character remembers what the house was like when their grandmother was alive because it feels like the grandmother is just in another room, and I liked how seeing her encouraged the main character to approach their father and demonstrate their relationship. The one critique I would give is that you use a lot of short, simple sentences that cut up the flow of the story, so diversifying the lengths and how you start sentences would help that. Towards the end, you do that more, and it helps the imagery to draw the reader in. Also, this might be more of a personal preference, but I tend to get turned away by blocks of text. Maybe a second look to see if the paragraph need to be split would help, but again, that might not be a problem for everyone. Overall, I enjoyed your story. Good luck in the contest!

Tue, March 2nd, 2021 2:11pm

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