Grandpa’s Advice

My grandfather tucked me into bed one day.  The big fuchsia comforter matched the rest of the fuchsia walls.  To this day I still shudder when I see that color.  There was way too much of it at my grandparent’s house.

I asked my grandfather for a bedtime story.  In reality I was just trying to eke out a few more minutes of consciousness, but what he left me with is this:

“I don’t have a story to tell you, but I have a three pieces of advice.  First, always eat your vegetables.  It will impress your future wife that you are more than a carnivore.  It will probably be the first time she meets such a man, and that will keep her interested.  Second, always finish whatever you are drinking.  If you do you will impress your future wife even more.  She will know intuitively that you will get things done, and you won’t put off things just because you were happy with how they are now.  You made a commitment and you followed through till the end.  Lastly, always volunteer to do the dishes.  If you do, your future wife will know you will be a partner in everything you do together.  She will know you are a strong believer in sharing all burdens, to make them lighter for you both.”

Once grandpa was finished he looked at me, waiting for me to say something.  Being only seven at the time, I tried to figure out what he was talking about.  Finally I just agreed.  “Okay Grandpa.  I will begin tomorrow.”

The old man smiled a broad smile and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.  “Don’t let me down, boy.”  He patted me on my head.  “You make sure you do that.”


 

Many years later, while getting ready for my wedding, my grandfather came in to see how I was doing.  I gave him a huge hug.  “Grandpa,” I said.  “That advice you gave me so many years ago, you were right.”

My grandfather looked at me weirdly.  “What advice was that?” he asked.

“You told me when I was seven that I should always eat my vegetables.  It will impress my future wife, and keep her interested.  Second, always finish whatever I’m drinking.  She will know intuitively that I’ll get things done and won’t put off things.  I will follow through till the end.  Lastly, I always volunteer to do the dishes, letting her know you will be a partner in everything we do together.  She knows I believe in sharing all burdens, to make them lighter for both of us.  That last part really sealed the deal.  Without your advice, Amanda and I wouldn’t be getting married today.”

My grandfather looked off into space, trying to remember when he had given such sage advice.  He then started laughing so hard I thought he was going to pass out.  When I finally steered him to a chair and got him a drink of water to help him catch his breath, Grandpa had me kneel down next to his chair.  He leaned over and patted me on my head, just like that night twenty years earlier.

“Do you remember now?” I asked him.

“Yes my boy, I do,” Grandpa said.  “And that advice is the reason why you’re getting married?”

“Yes Grandpa,” I said.  He threatened to begin laughing, but I stopped him with my stare.  “What’s so funny?”

“I told you to eat your vegetables,” Grandpa said through a toothy grin.

“Yes, Grandpa,” I replied.

“I told you to drink all of your drink,” Grandpa said as the grin got larger.

“Yes, Grandpa,” I replied getting more annoyed.

“I told you to do the dishes,” Grandpa said, slapping his knee.

“Yes, Grandpa!” I exclaimed.  “I just told you that.”

“Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Your grandmother was getting flustered at your eating habits.  She bet me I couldn’t make you eat all your vegetables and drink all your drink.  If I lost I had to paint the barn that ugly fuchsia color she loved.”

“This was part of a bet?” I asked, the color draining from my face.  “Wait, what did you win?”

My grandfather blushed a little and made an almost impossibly large grin.

“Grandpa!  No way!” I said, sinking the rest of the way to the floor.

“Best damn week in a long time,” he said with a little bit of longing in his voice.

“All this time,” I said, shaking my head, smooshing my wedding haircut into the thick pile carpet behind it.  Then I had another thought.  I sat back up and looked at the man who used my naiveté to get lucky with my grandmother.  “You also made me promise to do the dishes.  I’m almost afraid to ask this, but what did you win from Grandma for getting me to do that?”

Grandpa waved me off.  “Grandma never bet me anything about doing the dishes.”  I was relieved, but confused.  Grandpa then continued. “It was always my chore to do the dishes after dinner.  I just wanted a break.”

The Same Old

Linda waited while the sales clerk scanned in the bar code on the ring.  Linda looked everywhere but at the register and the clerk.  The clerk looked at the display.  “That will be six thousand forty-three dollars and eighteen cents,” the clerk said.

Linda almost choked, but she hid it well.  “Are there any discounts or sales on it?” she asked.

The clerk smiled a disarming smile.  “I’m afraid this is a popular setting, so we hardly ever have a sale on that particular style.  Sorry,” the clerk said.

“Can you check if there is one coming up?” Linda asked.  “It would make things so much easier.”

“I can check,” the clerk said, “but I really don’t think so.”  He put the ring back into the case and slipped off to the small office behind the counter.

Linda looked around the store, wondering if she should just leave now.  This was a stupid idea.  Of course it was just the latest of a series of stupid ideas.  Linda took a step toward the door and hesitated.

That was the exact moment when the clerk came back.  “There is not a sale coming on, but my manager has agreed to take ten percent off if you buy it today.  What do you say?” he asked.

Linda kept her smile on her lips, but the light behind her eyes slowly dimmed and shimmered behind tears that were just barely held in check.  She turned around to face the clerk taking the ring back out from behind the glass.  He placed it on a silk pillow.  Of course it had to be a silk pillow.  Linda wanted to take the ring and throw the pillow to the ground, jumping on it till it was nothing more than a remnant of a bad dream.

Instead she picked up the ring and held it oh so carefully.  It felt far heavier than it had any reason to do so.  She put it back on her finger and it settled into the indent on her ring finger perfectly.  Well her husband had always the best taste in jewelry.  She couldn’t stop thinking about how natural it looked there, and at the same time how much her stomach turned at that thought.

“So what do you think?” asked the clerk, snapping her attention back to the world at large.

Linda took the ring off.  There were other ways.  She didn’t need to go back to pretending.  She… placed it back on her finger.   “I’ll take it,” she said, her voice sounding hollow even to her.

Back home Linda sat with her cellphone, deleting her history as fast as she could.  The front door closing caused her to start.  She quickly locked her cellphone and walked to the entryway.  Carl was shaking off the snow from his hat before placing it on the top shelf of the closet.  “Hey there, Beautiful, how was your day?” Carl asked.

Linda just held up her hand where the new ring sat upon the old wedding band which had been cleaned to gleam just as much as the new one.  Carl smiled a huge grin.  “You found it!  And it looks so new,” he said.

“Well I got it cleaned at the store.  I wanted them to check it just in case something had loosened,” Linda said.

Carl gave her an awkward quick kiss to her cheek.  “Great idea.  I’m glad you found it.  It cost me a fortune,” he said.  “Oh, next week I’ll be gone again.  Janet needed a partner for that big presentation next week and she called in her best hitter.  Nothing special to me though.  Just the same old, just a different day.”

“Yep, the same old,” Linda repeated to the closet as Carl turned on the TV in the other room.

“Have you got dinner ready?” Carl called out.  “I’m starving.”

Linda looked at the ring again, tears this time escaping her control.  “It’ll be ready in just a minute.  I made your favorite, lasagna,” she said.

She waited for a response that never came before going to the oven to check if the lasagna was still as cold as she felt.

A Perfect Wedding Moment

Sven adjusted his collar.  You would think they could make a decent clerical collar that wouldn’t choke you the minute you became a little agitated.   This was the event that would validate his career choice.  How else would he be an official at Claire’s wedding?  It was hard to believe it had been seven years since Claire had helped him begin his path down this road.  Seven long years of working on their friendship, assuring her she had made the right decision.

Now it was seven short minutes till she arrived at the church.  Ken, her groom, was downstairs in Sven’s study, waiting to be led out to a full church, and a hopefully a bride that was ready to go through with it this time.  Sven was in the steeple, sitting on the railing as he was apt to do, watching for the limo bringing Claire.  That was a gift from Sven on Claire’s happy day.  He wanted to make sure she arrived to the event in splendor.  Four more minutes to wait.  Sven thought about the last seven years.  It took a lot of planning and mental fortitude to get where he was today.  Now all he had to do was let the last piece fall into place, and then his life would be complete.  He wondered if Ken and Claire would ever feel that same joy.  Sven knew that Ken was not Claire’s type.  Anyone could see that, but that wasn’t Ken’s problem now.  Today was a day he would etch in Claire’s mind forever.

The limo pulled up and Claire got out.  She was beautiful dressed in white.  It almost looked like she had a halo around her head, though that might be the tears running down Sven’s face.  “Claire!” Sven yelled.  Claire looked around, but couldn’t find Sven, so he yelled again.  “Up here,” he said.  She looked up and smiled.  Sven would remember that smile for the rest of his life.  She gave him a thumbs up and began walking to the chapel doors.  Sven called out one more time, “I love you!”  Claire looked up in confusion and dawning horror.  She was about to speak when Sven seized the words right out of her throat by jumping high and off the railing, falling to the ground at her feet, broken and dead.  His last thoughts were of her leaving him at the alter seven years ago and how payback is a bitch.

 


This story was inspired by the following reddit prompt: A person at the top of his building, waiting 7 minutes to jump to his death.