Tommy bounced around, grinning. They were moving to Grandma’s old house. He stopped, confused when the bad ache about Grandma going away crept in. Moving out of the apartment to that great house, though? That rocked. Tommy already called dibs on Dad’s old bedroom.
The movers left Grandma’s house full of boxes. Tommy raced his RC car through the maze in the living room. The boxes became a track and bleachers of cheering fans. He jumped, startled when Mother swatted his shoulder. “Stop tearing up the floor with that thing. Go up to your room and unpack.” She stood with her arms crossed, staring at him. Tommy sighed and turned to go. “Your toy, Tommy. Put it away.”
The mound of boxes in his room made Tommy yearn to race his car again. He looked toward the door. Mother wasn’t there, but she might as well be. Tommy’s shoulders slumped and he put the car and controller on a shelf. He ripped open a box. “Aw man!” It was full of clothes. Nice ones, the kind that hang in the closet. With another glance over his shoulder, Tommy set that box aside. The next one was clothes, too, but these went into the dresser. Feeling very grown up, he stuffed underwear into the top drawer.
The third box was toys. Tommy grinned and lugged it over to his toybox. With mighty strength and grunts, he lifted the box so it could dump the blocks, cars and action figures. He didn’t hear Mother pounding up the stairs and into his room. “Stop that right now!” she screeched as she swatted his shoulder. He dropped the box. It landed on his foot. Tears sprang into his eyes. “I didn’t hit you that hard, quit crying,” Mother told him.
“My foot hurts,” Tommy snuffled.
“It’s not broken, so hush.” Dutifully, Tommy gulped a few breaths and settled. His foot still hurt, though. “Good. Use your hands to put your toys away.” As Tommy followed directions, Mother took the box of nice clothes into the big closet. “It’s cold in here!” he heard her complain. “Oh, I think your dad’s old toybox is in here.” He heard the whine of an old hinge. “Lots of cars and stuff. Bet your dad will be happy to see it. Wow, it’s really frigid in here!” She went back to hanging up clothes, so he went back to his toys, placing each one in the toybox quietly.
Dad brought McDonald’s home for dinner. It was strange eating it at the big table where they always had meals with Grandma. Memories of turkeys, hams and yummy pies raced through his head. They were happy thoughts, full of Grandma and her bright smile. Her hugs were the best, even better than the pies. “I miss Grandma,” he said quietly.
Dad put a hand on his hair and stroked his head. “We all do, buddy. It’ll be okay.” Dad’s smile made Tommy feel a little warmer inside. “Hey, your mom said my old toybox is in your closet. After dinner, I’ll take a look, maybe pick out a couple things. The rest is yours, okay?”
“Yeah, thanks!” Tommy grinned. New toys!
After his bath in Grandma’s huge tub, he got into his pajamas. Tommy went into the closet to see what Dad left him. Cool, Dad liked action figures when he was a kid, too! Tommy recognized some from those old Star Wars movies. He couldn’t remember their names, but he knew they were good guys. Even the little green dude with funny ears.
“Tommy, get out of that closet! It’s freezing in there and your hair is wet!” Mother called from the hallway. He didn’t know what she was talking about. He was warm, but he knew better than to argue. He held onto the little green dude and left the closet. “It’s been a long day. Bedtime. Your father fell asleep in his chair, so no story tonight. Night, Tommy.” She reached in and flipped the light switch as he pulled up the covers. No story? That sucked. He carefully settled himself in the middle of the bed. Hanging over the edge tempted the monster underneath the bed. In the story-less silence, he was asleep quickly, action figure clutched in his hand.
“Turn over, Tommy.” The gentle words carried love to him as he lay sprawled across the bed. He turned, unaware he dropped the little green dude over the side of the bed while he drew his hand back. He dreamed a soft kiss on his cheek to go with the loving voice. When he woke, he frowned at discovering the action figure sitting on his bedside table.
Tommy snuck into the big closet to play each day. At first it was because of Dad’s toys. Later, he took some of his action figures in. Wolverine did battle against evil mutants alongside the little green dude. Every night, he dreamed of being tucked in and kissed on the cheek.
One night was bad, though. He had a scary dream. His foot was trapped, his ankle wrapped by a tentacle. The monster under the bed tugged on him and he slid across the sheets, grappling and screaming. Grandma rushed from the closet. She wore Jedi robes and swung a light saber. Slash! The tentacle’s end went limp on Tommy’s ankle and slid off with a splat. Grandma bent and poked under the bed with the light saber. Tommy heard a strange gurgle and jumped to look over the side of the bed. The severed end of the tentacle vanished.
“You’re safe now, Tommy. Turn over, I’ll tuck you in,” murmured Grandma. Stunned but sleepy, he nestled in. She bent to kiss his cheek. He peeked as she disappeared into the closet.
Dad burst into his bedroom. “Nightmares, buddy?” He ruffled his son’s hair.
“Everything’s okay, Dad,” Tommy yawned. “Grandma’s a Jedi now.”
What genre is this story to you? Slice of life? Paranormal? Would love to hear your take on it.