FlashFic: Grandma’s House

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 Little Green Dude

photo by Monica McGivern

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.

 

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20 thoughts on “FlashFic: Grandma’s House

  1. Johanna Harness January 27, 2012 at 10:49 am Reply

    I love that last line. “Grandma’s a Jedi now.” Mmmm.

    Thanks for this, Jess!

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it, Johanna, thank you. When Tommy told me the last line, I grinned big. Happy writer.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  2. John Ross Barnes January 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm Reply

    Um, Slice of Paranormal life – Yeah, That’s the ticket! Great Story, Jess!

    Interesting how as adults we come back to the childhood monsters under the beds, the ghosts in the ceiling cracks. I think that’s because they are so strongly connected to the ghosts and monsters we fear and struggle with as adults.

    Recognizing how often we are drawn back to matters of family in our stories seems significant – or perhaps that’s just me.

    I also had to grin at the fact that to the Daughter-in-law there’s an icy cold spot, which is perfectly warm to the grandson. and I liked the photo.

    Thanks for this, Jess.

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm Reply

      Slice of Paranormal Life – I love it! Thanks, John. I’m really happy the story worked for you. I agree with you about the roots of our fears and struggles being found, at least symbolically, in the ghost and monsters of our childhoods. How many times do our troubled dreams center on them?

      I find I write about family often, usually in phases. Certainly that must point up a need in my life at those times. You’re right, I should pay closer attention to that. No, I don’t think it’s just you – although perhaps it’s just *us*.

      Yeah, Grandma wasn’t big on the DIL, was she? Dad made up for her shortcomings with Tommy, though. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, John.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  3. Tom Gillespie January 29, 2012 at 10:33 am Reply

    Sweet story.. I have an eight year old and her imagination is a remarkable, beautiful thing..If we could find a way to cherish and nurture the limitlessness of kids minds, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.
    Lovely!

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm Reply

      Thank you, Tom. I’m touched Tommy made you think of your daughter and her imagination. So true, the precious inner lives of children could be the key to dragging society out of the muck. Things could be simplified on so many levels.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  4. Sonia Lal January 29, 2012 at 11:29 am Reply

    Grandma’s a Jedi now. –> love this line! lol I would call it paranormal. I guess the grandmother doesn’t like her son’s wife huh? Since she was cold in the closet.

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm Reply

      Thanks, Sonia. I’m finding it interesting to see the response this story evokes in different people. Definitely not seeing the DIL as a favorite of Grandma’s!

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  5. Deanna Schrayer January 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm Reply

    Love this Jess! The details are excellent, the dialogue real, the atmosphere perfect – just great! And I agree, that last line rocks!
    Yes, I believe I’d categorize it paranormal.

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm Reply

      Deanna, really glad this worked for you on so many levels. Thank you! I originally wrote it as an obvious paranormal, but edited the end so only Tommy saw Grandma. That left the question: was it his dream / imagination? It’s fascinating to see how people categorize it. Thanks for weighing in.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  6. Chuck Allen January 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm Reply

    Ha ha! I love it. The mental image of his grandma wielding a light saber was terrific.

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm Reply

      I had so much fun with that image, Chuck. Saw my own grandma with her white-blonde beehive, Jedi Master robes and pink toenails, swinging a light saber. Thanks, I’m so happy you enjoyed it.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  7. Larry "FARfetched" Kollar January 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm Reply

    You can’t ask for a better closing line than that!

    I’m left wondering how old the boy is though. At one point I thought 6, at another, 8. But his internal dialogue “rocks” and “sucks” would suggest 12 or more.

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm Reply

      Thanks, Larry! You brought up a good question, too. In my imagination, I saw Tommy as being around eight or nine years old. Given the colorful vocabularies of the kids in my neighborhood, I didn’t think I was going out of character with those word choices, but you may well be right. In any case, if they pulled you out of the story, I may need to rethink them. I appreciate the input, thanks.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  8. brainhaze January 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm Reply

    BRILLIANT – I loved it – the photo, the dialogue and that last line made the story even more awesome – great work

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm Reply

      Hey, thanks! I’m pleased the story worked for you on so many levels. It wasn’t the easiest to write (and rewrite, and rewrite), but I’m happy with it. Took a while for Tommy to tell me the last line. It was so worth the wait!

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  9. ~Tim January 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm Reply

    I think paranormal, maybe even fantasy of a sort.

    And I love that closing line too.

    Like

    • JC Rosen January 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm Reply

      Interesting, fantasy could be an aspect. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks! Most people are weighing in with paranormal as a vote. Those who’ve said otherwise have life experiences which inform their decisions. I didn’t start the process as a litmus test for genre categorization, but it’s been fascinating to see it go that way. I appreciate your input.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

  10. Amberr Meadows February 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm Reply

    I am in agreement with the lady above. Slice of paranormal life, or perhaps a little boy’s big imagination. Either way, awesome bit of fiction!

    Like

    • JC Rosen February 6, 2012 at 7:25 am Reply

      I love “slice of paranormal life.” Most of the paras I write would fit in that category. A friend, a psych grad student, decided it was simply a boy’s big imagination while dealing with grief. I can see how that fits as well. I believe once the writer is done, it’s out of her hands. The reader’s views are all that count.

      Thanks so much for your view, Amberr. I appreciate your reading and your comment.

      Take care,
      JC

      Like

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