The Concert, the War, and the Nursing Home

Submitted into Contest #81 in response to: Write a love story about an older couple who’ve been together since they were teenagers.... view prompt

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Coming of Age Contemporary Historical Fiction

{*NOTE FROM E. D. ROSAMUND*

So this is for the prompt about the old couple who has been together since they were teenagers… the story is a little odd because it’s not told by their point of view, but I promise, it still fits because…. Just read it. XD} 

I just want to go home.. I thought, rolling my eyes when the door closed. I propped my knee on the table and took out my phone, turning off the recording app. I missed ten messages just for half an hour of talking to my grandma. I only asked her one question, too. She droned on and on and I hardly even got anything out of it. I hated school projects.

I quickly sat back normally when the light came in from the hallway and my grandma came shuffling in.

“So how’s your interview working out, hon?” She sat down across from me, adjusting her glasses.

I nodded and hid my phone under my leg, looking out the skimpy notes. “Uh, yeah they’re really good. I’m glad we could do this today.”

“So what’s up next? Do you need any more help?”

I shook my head and gathered up my papers. “No I think we’re good for now… maybe I’ll come back on Saturday if I have any more questions.”

My grandma smiled softly and nodded. “Alright… you have a good day at school, then.”

“I will…” I mumbled the lie as I swung my backpack over my shoulders and walked out the door to my car. 

***

“It’s the worst!” I was so glad to hear the next day that no one else was enjoying the project either. I mean, interviewing old people on stories we don’t really care about and giving it to our teachers. No one wanted to do this, why do we always have to do stuff we don’t want to do? I really hated high school. 

“I mean, at least they make us cookies.” I laughed and pushed Jake’s face.

“You’re such an idiot… my grandma doesn’t make me cookies, how come you get them? You’re not even related to… Jazzy or whatever her name is.”

“Her name is Sparkle, and she’s my dead grandma's best friend, she’s practically my grandma.” Jakes leaned over his chair and touched his nose to mine. “And she makes a killer cookie.”

“Well, I should come with you then.” It would be so much more fun than going to see my grandma. I mean, I loved her. She’s fantastic, I wouldn’t really be here without her. But still, it was torture to sit and listen to her talk for however long she wanted it when I really didn't care about what she had to say in the first place. That was the thing about school; they never really cared how special or talented you were. You were their clone, and you have to do whatever they said in order to do what you want. 

“Well, how about this. I’m all done with my interview, so how about I come with you tomorrow. Your grandma won’t mind, will she?”

I nodded. “That sounds fantastic.” Jake smiled and kissed me quickly before landing his chair on the ground and looking ahead at the front of the room.

At least there’d be one interesting thing going on. Anyone who interviews an old lady named Sparkle must have some fun tricks up his sleeve.

***

“You ok?”

I glanced at Jake in the car as we turned onto the long winding road leading up to my grandma’s house and nodded. I was fine; I was just going back to the dreadful, quiet place where nothing happens all day. But I wasn’t going to complain out loud any longer, I think he was getting tired of it. Lucky for him, though, his Lady Sparkle made the whole assignment entertaining. She probably went to tons of parties and concerts and had a thousand friends and who knows? Maybe some of them were famous. And what do I have on my grandma? Oh, well, she climbed trees with her brother that was six years younger than her. But, of course, HE moved away. To California, where all the interesting people live. And here I am, still stuck in Gary, Indiana, thanks to my loser grandma. 

I pulled into the driveway and parked the car, grabbed my backpack, and grabbed JAkes hand on the way to the door. I peeked through the window when I heard some loud music playing. Jake turned his head and we watched as a woman in bright pink clothes danced around to some contemporary era music…. There was no way that was my grandma…

“Oh my gosh…” I muttered under Jake’s cackling laughter. “I am so sorry…”

Jake shook his head and twirled me around. “This is my favorite song…” I pushed him away again and opened the door, turning the interior corner to the kitchen, where it really was my grandma… my grandma was jumping and twirling. Oh. My. Gosh.

I cleared my throat. Nothing happened. Jake laughed again as I knocked on the door frame. “Grandma?”

My grandma turned her head, put a hand to her heart, and turned off the radio. “Heavens, child… when did you get here?”

Jake and I chuckled slightly. “Just now… grandma, this is my boyfriend, Jake. He wanted to come and help with the interview, I hope that’s ok.” My grandma walked over smiling and took Jake's hand. I was surprised how her breath wasn’t even faltering. She was… what does she say? Lean as a whippet or something. I don’t know, does that make sense?

“It’s such a pleasure, Jake. I hope you’ll forgive me, I have no fresh snacks or anything, usually, I do when I have company.” I widened my eyes. What was I, if I wasn’t company?

Jake shook his head. “Don’t worry, it’s all good.” 

“Please you two, come and sit, we’ll get started.”

A minute later, I had all my papers situated, Jake by my side and my Julianne Hough of a grandma across from us. 

“So you got some questions for me?”

I nodded. “Yes... um, I have a couple, where should we start?” Jake closed his eyes and pointed to a spot on my paper. I moved his finger and read the question. “Alright…” Jake started the button on my phone to record the audio. “Did you ever marry? If so, what was his or her name?” I knew she must have gotten married but I’ve never met them. Come to think of it, I never really knew anything about my grandpa. I don’t even know if he was still alive or not.

My grandma sat in silence for a couple seconds, the only sound in the room of the clock ticking steadily. She stared above our heads and we waited. “I did. His name was Michael.” I jotted the word Michael down and waited to see if she would keep talking. When she didn’t, Jake piped in. 

“How did you two meet? Was it school or something?”

My grandma looked over at him and smiled. “I don’t think you two want to hear that story…”

“We do!” I was surprised it even came out but it was honest. I did want to hear. I’ve never heard anything about my grandfather and I truly wanted to know. Obviously, there must be something going on that it took her so long to answer. “Please, grandma.” 

She stared at me a couple seconds longer. “I was seventeen. It was 1971… I went to a concert. I decided to sneak backstage to see if I could meet anyone famous and there was a security guy right in front of the door. He stopped me, asking me where I was going. Of course, knowing me, I’m not usually afraid of anything, so I told him. I told him I was going backstage to meet the singer and fall in love and he couldn’t stop me. He stared at me, smiled, and grabbed my hand, leading back through the door and behind the curtain. I got to see a whole song performed backstage. Well, I did get to meet the singer afterward, too. And then I got a date.”

Oh my gosh, was my grandfather famous? “The singer asked you out?”

My grandma laughed slightly and Jake grabbed my hand. “No Leah. The security guard. So the next day, I walked a mile to the diner in the middle of the town and sure enough there he was waiting for me. We had dinner and stayed out all night, watching the stars. It was a very different time then, we stayed out all night a lot. So anyway, I always thought about him being the security boy that let me backstage but I never really knew why he did. So I asked him. He told me we'd been going to school together since kindergarten. I didn’t remember him at all until he mentioned that. I remember there was a boy whose pencil broke and he was too shy to ask for it to be sharpened, so I let him keep one of mine. Years later, here he is, guardian the doors to a famous singer I wanted to meet.

Anyways, we dated for about a year when he surprised me. He really, truly surprised me. I thought he was drunk. He brought me back to that little old concert building, carried me to the middle of the stage, and let out the biggest, grandest proposal you’ve ever seen in your life. He said “Syliva, you are my one and only. I have never loved anyone else and I never will. I will remember you for all eternity.” Those weren’t his exact words… because he didn’t just say it, he sang it. He wrote a song for me and danced and everything. He knew it would take a grand gesture to get me and it worked. Because I accepted. The next morning, however, he was drafted to fight in the war.” Grandma paused and shook her head slightly. “I’ll never forget how heartbreaking that was. One night you think your whole life is planned out and the next you get drafted into the war.

So we hurried up our wedding preparations and got married as soon as possible. He looked so handsome in that old military uniform. I still have it, you know.” She looked at me and Jake, one by one. “Would you like to see it?”

“Yes!” Jake and I talked and stood at the same time.

Grandma led us to her bedroom and the small closet in the corner. Jake tightened his grip on my hand and leaned into my ear. “Getting a good story?” I nodded and he kissed my cheek as grandma turned around with a big box. She set it on her bed and opened it, revealing an army green shirt and pants, along with a hard helmet and some pins and coins and pieces of paper. 

“These are some letters he wrote me, you can look at those if you want.” I grabbed a letter as grandma held up the green shirt to Jake’s torso. “Would you look at that… just your size,” Jake chuckled slightly, feeling the shirt. 

“That’s pretty cool…” He examined some of the pins. “What rank was he?”

“Well now… I don't recall it’s been so long. You’ll have to ask him, that may be one thing he remembers.”

Jake and I looked at each other quickly then back to her. She smiled and nodded. “He’s still alive. He’s at the nursing home... “

“Go back to the war… what happened?” I pulled the phone closer to grandma on the bed. 

“Well… I remember of course being so upset when he left. We had just been married and were only together for a couple of weeks before he had to leave and I was already worrying about being a widow. Of course, after he left, I began feeling sick and tired so I went to stay with my parents, who decided to take me to the doctor.” She smirked playfully and poked my arm. “Turns out your father was on his way. It was so sad knowing that he might have been born without his father being there. I never even told him. Not until he came back. And when he did, and he saw me holding that baby at the train station, I've never seen him happier. He had a slight limp and his arm in a sling, but his face was absolutely glowing.”

She paused and stared forward. Jake sat beside me on the bed and put an arm around my shoulders. I’d never really thought about it but… My grandma was seventeen when she met my grandpa. I know, times were “different”, but it still could be him.

“So years later,” my grandma continued, “Your father brought home a girl. A girl we all loved. She was sweet and caring and two years later, they were married. Time really does fly, you know. But it was around his wedding day when your grandfather started to call her the wrong name, or forget to take something to work. We had him checked out…. And it turns out that dementia had run in his family. We had him put in a nursing home around seventeen years ago. You had just been born and we knew life would be different growing up without a grandpa, as your mother's was gone, and we decided to wait until you were older to tell you. And here you are, with your own boyfriend and phone, working on a school project. All your questions have finally been answered.” My grandma folded up the army shirt and put it back in the box, closing the lid on her past once more.

***

I waited for Jake to get in the car before starting the engine. I wiped a tear away from my cheek and he buckled, turning to face me. “Are you ok, Leah?”

“I’ve been such a jerk, Jake… I’ve been worrying about myself and my hatred for the school project when my grandmother hasn’t been able to talk to or about her husband in seventeen years. I’m such a horrible person.” I buried my face in my hands and he put a hand on my arm. “I can’t believe I’ve never asked about any of this. I’m the worst granddaughter ever.”

Jake laughed quietly. “No you're not you’re just… sometimes you don’t think you’re interested in something but it turns out to be really cool, you know? Like.. you thought your non-cookie baking grandma was boring and annoying and had nothing interesting to share. But it took a terrible school assignment to learn about the exciting stuff…. The concert, the war. Even the nursing home.” He paused for a second and I wiped my eyes to start driving. “I got the name, by the way.”

I sniffed my nose quickly. “What name?”

“The name of the nursing home. It was in the box.” I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye and smiled. 

“We should go some time.”

“Yeah, maybe when I’m old and toothless and don’t remember anything you'll have to put me there.” Jake laughed and leaned against the window. After a few seconds of silence, he whispered. “You wanna go to a concert sometime? We can try and sneak backstage.”

I laughed and scrunched my nose, imitating my grandma. “‘I’m going backstage to meet the singer and fall in love and you can’t stop me!’”

February 18, 2021 03:06

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2 comments

Des Feller
18:34 May 20, 2021

I'm surprised no one has commented on this story! This is the first one that I've read of yours (Its on the top lol) and I really enjoyed it. I love how you mixed the idea of mature love and young love, and being pretty young myself, it was really relatable and hopeful. Also I love how her grandma was just like... jamming out alone. It was kinda random, but I throughly enjoyed it at the same time. great job!! I'll be reading some of your other stories too :)

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Emily Germaine
14:13 May 21, 2021

Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I agree that the differences between mature and young love can be huge and it's always great to remember how love can grow. And yes, I do add a lot of random things in my writing just for fun! I wrote this a long time ago but I think the point was to kind of how that the main character's ideas about her grandma were that she was old and boring, but in fact, she is a very lively person.

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