"Pa, let me make your tea."
He looks at her as she weaves her hands into her hair. He likes how she reminds him of snowfalls. He doesn't know who she is except that in eight years, the police would find her in her kitchen, an empty packet of cigarettes beside her bloodied form. He's seen that before and it doesn't scare him anymore.
"Of course. Add a lot of milk." He tells her.
"But..." She stops herself and begins to walk away.
"What?" He asks.
The morning is purple as if someone has drowned it before. She pulls the curtain apart and begins to fold them carefully. He sees the sun, the color of unfinished truths, and remembers how pale she would look in her kitchen, dead.
"You don't like milk." She responds thoughtlessly.
He frowns, "I love milk. I don't drink tea without milk."
"I added it yesterday and you threw it away and you cursed..." She stops again and twists her hands behind her back.
He doesn't know why she talks this way. But he knows that she will break an arm when she slips on the stairs. It's the inevitability of that moment that makes him sigh. Because he knows so much of how the story ends. He starts to wonder how someone as delicate as she can die in a kitchen built with bricks but he says nothing. Her end doesn't scare him.
"Maybe I was sick." He says.
"No." She struggles between laughing and frowning. "Don't you remember? Pa?"
But he doesn't know that. That's what bothers him -the fact that he can't remember what she tells him- and he doesn't know if telling her will change anything.
"Oh." He whispers. He starts to pull the covers away from his body and oddly, he feels nostalgic. Like he's done the simple act of peeling skins. He remembers now, the light before the darkness. It doesn't scare him.
"I'll make tea. You like rice?"
In a year, he'll get a call from her. He will be seating in a rocking chair in his room, listening to nothing but static on the radio when he'll hear her small sobs. She will tell him she wants to come home. He knows why she calls him Pa now. He likes the flow of the word as it leaves her lips. He likes the red shade of lipstick on her gentle lips. In four months, she'll throw it away and kiss his grey hair. That's what he knows.
"I want to take a walk." He says getting up.
"No, Pa. The doctor says you need a lot of rest." But she isn't as quick as she thinks. He gets up and falls back down. She presses her palms together as if in silent prayer. He looks up at her, sees how she keeps blinking back her tears. He's seen this picture before, two days before the police find her in her kitchen. That's how much he knows, the knowledge like a great pull, tossing him into the wind.
"Why do you keep forgetting about the accident?" She asks, helping him back into the bed. "You keep forgetting things lately, Pa."
He knows more than she can tell. He knows how she'll get the scar on her wrist and how her husband will smile like he knows the reason why the sun breaks in half.
"I remember." He says.
She nods, slowly, unsure.
"Go get me tea."
She leaves him there.
The lights came on in the kitchen. That's what he thinks about as he sits in his room. Because thinking about little things makes him happy, and a little bit as powerful as snowflakes. He calls the man he is seeing Omar, sees the girl who called him pa sitting on a chair.
"Her husband, I guess." He says.
She comes in with a silver tray and hands him a cup of tea. He holds the cup thickly, the color changes to the sun at dawn.
"Where's Omar?" He asks sipping from his cup.
She frowns. She says, "Who is Omar?"
He knows more than she. He knows Omar like the back of his hands. In his mind, Omar is standing by the door, one hand around a little boy. He is twisting the neck around, afraid of letting go. The small boy is as lifeless as is possible but still, Omar wants more of it. He brings it to his lips and kisses the top of its head, instinctively, silently. He has tears in his eyes.
"Your husband," He says chewing his lower lip.
"But...I'm not married."
He looks away and sips his tea. She sighs and goes to sit on a chair. She stares at him and tries to think. It's harder to think about anything when he is watching. But she wants to, desperately.
"Pa, you seem to be forgetful." She says clapping hands, "Do you want to go see Doc?"
" I am fine."
"I can go take you to see Doc, Pa. You forget things too much and you talk about weird things."
Another thought comes to mind. This is in four years, he thinks and smiles at the rough feelings.
"Your son is beautiful." He says.
The tea is gone and only a brown trail of sugar is left. He hands her the cup and she covers the top with her palm.
"Which son?" She asks, frustrated.
"He has Omar's smile. Omar is a good man but he isn't good enough."
She throws the cup across the room and it lands hard on the wall. She watches as it breaks into two before turning to meet his eyes. She says, "You are unwell, Pa. I shall call the doctor."
"I am fine." He whispers, twisting the sheets around his body. He's peeled skins before, with knives and unwashed hands, and doing it again, with the sheets feels nostalgic.
He doesn't know who she is but he knows that in eight years, when they find her in her kitchen, he'll get a call and his aged body will rock with grief. He knows how he will sit in the balcony of a hotel room, listening to cars and small boys crying. That's how he remembers eight years and that's how he knows he likes her now.
"Can you take me for a walk?" He asks.
She nods her head but doesn't move from where she is standing. "Tell me what's happening."
He aches to tell her but the room is stuffy and he wants to see the streets. And the people he doesn't know.
"Take me outside and we'll talk."
She helps him in his wheelchair and rolls him out into the light of the dancing streets. It's a busy Wednesday afternoon and he claps delightfully as she walks with him. By the corner of an antique store, she stops for an old couple.
"Good afternoon, George." She calls, laughing.
The man -George- laughs too and takes Pa's hands in his.
Hand holding takes effort, he thinks for a moment. It requires the kind of strength and agility of driving mid-morning in winter to see Omar. The kind of strength it takes to grasp a hand as cold as he, is a sort of canyon and it spins him around. He's tried to hold her hands, firmly, as she walked him to see the doctor. It was slippery and hot so he walked with his hands in his pockets. He hates how George holds his hands as though they've always been best of friends.
"How are you, Jackson? It's a relief you are coming out now."
"I am fine." He says.
He doesn't know George. He's sure he hasn't seen him before. He hates how that thought makes him feel powerless.
"The sun is magical." George insists, pulling away, "You'll soon be back to your old self."
They stop under a large sign that spells bakery backward and she sits on a bench that shakes underneath her weight.
"How are you feeling, Pa?" She asks.
"Who is George?" He asks.
She opens her mouth slowly, shock spreading across her face. "Now, we will have to go see a doctor."
"I am fine." He says again, laughing, into his palms.
He doesn't know her so well but he knows that in a year, after she calls him begging to come back home, he'll accept and she'll move back and he'll tell her Omar was never good enough. It is a plain truth, one he finds so hard to shake off. He knows so much of the invisible that sometimes he fears he is scarred by the knowledge. As they sit in the sun, he is awakened by the little snippets of the future, ones only he can see.
"I can see the future." He whispers, looking past her head.
"Oh, Pa." She tells him.
He looks at her, and knows, without thinking, that she doesn't believe him. He begins to laugh into his palm again, leaving behind Omar and the kitchen.
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Hey! Congrats on the shortlist! Totally deserved as this story was wonderfully written.
Thank you so much
Oh, WOW, Abigail. This story was so sad and yet so lovely all at the same time. There is something special about the voice you use to tell it, but I can't put my finger on what it is. And I loved how you interspersed all the visions of the future in with the present....so poignant. I loved it!
I would like to say that this is such a bittersweet story, but I feel like too many people have told you so already. It was beautiful, nothing short of a masterpiece. I did notice that some parts were rough, though. Like the "I am fine." He says. should be "I am fine," he says. You mentioned somewhere that you wrote stories on your phone, which I find surprising. For a phone, everything is nicely done and neatly typed. If you don't mind, I'd love for you to check out a few of my stories. If not, I totally understand :).
This one sort of hits home. It reminds me of mother and the dementia she suffers now.
I liked this story very much the first time I read it. The writing was so poignant-- the connection between the characters. Congratulations!
Thank you. I think your story was powerful. I loved it.
I really like reading about someone knowing something while others tell him it's not true. For some reason, it's refreshing like tea with milk. The only mistake I caught was "He's peeled skins before, with knives and unwashed hands, and doing it again, with the sheets feel nostalgic." I think you meant to say "feels". The story is mysterious and I love it. There girl is odd and I don't know if she's imaginary. Also, when you mentioned Jackson had had more girls like this, it got even more twisted. Keep it up.
I edited it a bit. Thank you so much
Sure. I have this story Yellow that I wrote this week that I’d love your feedback on. :)
Also, just checked out your bio. It's beautiful.
This story was spectacular! Your writing is so poetic and the way you portrayed the emotions of the story is stunning. Would you be willing to read my newest story and let me know what you think?
Thanks. I'll try to read yours soon
Hey Abigail! You have such a creative mind. The way you handled the sadness and darkness in the story was amazing. I like the way how the scenes flowed in a subtle way, kind of like how honey flows. The imagery was really good. The way you detail everything and the way of expressing was totally good. I came across your story through the critique circle. And I'm glad that I did. I'm totally looking forward to your other stories.
Nice, Abigail! I love the details, especially, 'the morning is purple as if someone has drowned it before.' Looking forward to seeing what you'll write for this contest!
Wow, this is amazing. I always love reading your stories, and this one especially - your writing voice is so subtle but somehow also quite unique. I feel like I could find one of your stories lying on the sidewalk and know immediately that it was yours. I loved how you used this prompt; even though it was more of a sci-fi/thriller sort of prompt, you made it into more of a sad, dramatic sort of story, and it really worked. I would love it if you could check out one of my stories and give me some feedback - only if you feel like it, though. A...
This was so dark, I had to continue reading the story to make sure I would understand everything by the end. I loved this kind of weird and almost confusing narrative, like a spider web. Very interesting indeed. I actually think it's funny that we have similar stories relating to how our characters "remember" the future. I will say though, that I noticed sometimes Pa was capitalized and other times it wasn't, maybe just take a look at that before the submission approval. Great tale!!
I worked through the story again and I found them. Thank you so much
Hello Abigail. I must tell you this is the third, yeah, I guess the third story of yours that I have read. I live your attention to minute details, your character interactions, your turns if phrases, your strong, narrative arc that serves as beacon light for the readers for easy, effective, and enjoyable narration. In short, I live whatever you have written so far. I guess the voice is very strong and unique and all the important characters, especially in this story, have been very deftly handled Would greatly appreciate your feedback on m...
This was so creative! I skipped this story prompt because it just seemed too hard. I couldn’t imagine anyone finding a way to use it correctly, but then I read this! Awesomely done!
Amazing story! I love the way the story plays out and it's so dark in some places! Great use of imagery and I love the way your dialogue flows so well! In your bio, I noticed you said you liked poetry. There's a pretty cool site a lot of reedsy authors use for poetry including me and it's called allpoetry. If you are interested in joining, here's the website . allpoetry.com Outstanding story Abigail!
Wow! I got some free time and saw this. It had a Incredible plot.The story unfolds beautifully! I loved the Creative names! You have an Outstanding imagination!!
This is brilliant!! You did a great job setting a tone of inevitability. Plus, you imbued the main character with just the right mixture of thoughts and emotions. Clever use of figurative language too, such as when you said, "The morning is purple as if someone has drowned it before," and "the knowledge like a great pull, tossing him into the wind." I loved the whole thing, though!!! ❤
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks