Monday, June 6, 2011

Magical Moment 487, "Favorite"

This is a short story I wrote years ago. I wrote it in high school, then revised it for a college writing class, then about a year ago sent it into an online magazine where it was published. It's one of my favorites and I hope you enjoy it.


"I Knew You'd Come" 
By Elizabeth Grimes

I have the best granny in the world, or so says the homemade, brightly colored, baked clay clumsily glued to a safety pin “broach” I made for her in first grade. Constantly levelheaded and always sensible, my grandma can be found in the front row of every Christmas play, piano recital, and cheerleading competition, bursting with pride for her grandchildren. Each of her co-workers know by heart the lives of my sisters and I. “Oh! You’re Mary’s granddaughter,” they say when she introduces me. “Boy have I heard a lot about you!” She drags every person she can club over the head to one of my boring jazz band concerts or just to listen to me play the piano at Lee’s Restaurant and sip coffee. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to return her love or see her happy. Nothing.

My grandma is the sort of person who could talk endlessly about nothing and all you would have to do to make her think you’re listening is unconsciously grunt or nod your head every so often – it’s one of her most loveable qualities. Never had I seen her flinch with foolish sentimental emotion. Raised by a single mother who spoke little English and no education, and one of 10 children, she has seen her share of difficulties. Things happen, suck it up and deal with it, and “Oh, by the way, do you have a tablespoon of lemon juice? I’m making chicken and forgot to run to the store.”

It was for this reason, I was not at all surprised that on our way to her sister-in-law and best friend’s funeral, she was talking about the banana sale at Russ’s Market. My sister and I were much more involved in smothering our completely inappropriate giggles over the irony as the song “Ashes by Now” began to play on the radio. Poor Great Aunt Louise had been cremated. From the back seat of the car, I half listened to grandma as I watched her gray head bob up and down, and the rise and fall of her hand correlate with the inflections in her voice. From the extra hours she’s been putting in at the office, to a perfectly good chair she found by the dumpster (all it needs is a good scrubbing), somehow, her stream-of-conscience chatter led to a story her priest told at Mass last Sunday. As she told us the story, her voice maintained the same non-stop, up-beat tone as when she told the banana sale story.

The story was of two soldiers in World War II. They were best friends. One soldier risked his life and left the trench to set a trap for the enemy. As the other soldier waited for his return, there was a terrible explosion and he knew his friend had been in the midst of it. Hours passed as he nervously waited in the muddy trench for him to reappear, but he never did. Against the will of his commanding officer, the soldier left the safety of the trench, determined to find and bring back his friend. Not more than a few minutes later, he returned, carrying his friend over his shoulder, eyes moist. He laid him gently on the ground. Dead. “I told you it was useless,” reprimanded his commanding officer.

It was here in the story, I heard something I had never heard before. My grandma paused, tried to go on, but rather whispered gently, “Excuse me.” Her head was still. Her hand went over her mouth. Her eyes dropped to the floor. After several moments of this strange new silence, she went on.
“No,” replied the soldier boldly to his commander. “You see, he wasn’t dead when I found him. When I knelt next to him, he said to me, ‘I knew you’d come.’”

There was more silence as my grandma gained control. Then she explained, “I never went to see her in the hospital.” My sister and I exchanged stunned and confused glances, afraid to breathe for fear of breaking the delicate mood. Grandma proceeded, “When I spoke to her on the phone, she even asked me, why hadn’t I come to see her?” A tender pause. “I knew you’d come,” she repeated softly to herself. “No that’s true friendship.” Her voice was quiet and full of bitter regret. It was in that moment, when I nearly cried of heartbreak for my grandma’s pain, that I wished were lying in a hospital so that when my grandma came to see me, I could say to her, “I knew you’d come.” Because I know she would.

12 comments:

Robin Malherbe said...

I remember reding this story of yours months ago, and it is as touching now as when I read it back then. I love your story-telling ability - the emotions you convey... Thanks again.

texwisgirl said...

oh this is so touching... what a sweet and wonderful woman to carry such regret...

Blake Leblanc said...

funny...there is an article close to this one by Douglas F. Parsons

Dawn said...

:'''(
A beautiful writing Elizabeth!
How thought-provoking...and a good reminder.....

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Robin, Yes, this one was of my very first blog posts when I had very few readers! I'm touched that you remember it!

Texwisgirl, Thanks so much for reading, and the comment.

Blake, I don't know who that is, but sounds like it would be an interesting read.

Dawn, Thank you. :)

Linda said...

I think the list of people who love your grandma just grew by the number of people who read this post, Elizabeth. This was a very well written and compelling story.

MaggieGem said...

Very touching story... well written too!

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

You could write well when in school! I am like her, talking endlessly about nothing :) Touching really....

Rick said...

Could have been my wife's grandma you were writing about. Very poignant story ... with a message.

Arti said...

What a well written story indeed... Great emotions, you have penned it down well... My first visit to your blog, loved it. Read 'the expert', what a beautiful post...
Looking forward to more visits, have a great day:)

The Tame Lion said...

Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful!

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Linda thank you. She is QUITE lovable. Your comment means a great deal.

Kim, Thank you. That story has been revised a few times since then.

Rick, She sounds like someone I would like very much. Thank you. :)

Arti, I am SO glad you stopped by! Please come again and thank you for your comment!

The Tame Lion, I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. Thank you for reading and for your comment. :)