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Candid Bliss. (Short Story)

by Hannah Inch, Maleny State High School - Australia

Grandma, what is it like to be alone? What is it like to saddle the black dog and ride - the only lonely cowboy in a John Wayne town. Beyond your composed line, I hear the beast of burden have his final say and lay down. He's doused in potato wine. He doesn't mind. He laughs when you cry, throw your mind match and watch the lonely dissipate into the night. And he won't fight. And you won't fight, you'll watch smoke snakes retaliate and take flight. As you pour tea, they take flight. As you wash knees, they take flight. And they won't fight, and you won't fight. I remember when I was young, and the familiar serpent would creep up my neck, a long time friend with no good intent. And in accord, you would take my cheek to your palm, close my eyelids and lay down my mind. “This too shall pass, my love, this too shall pass”: grandma, lying isn't a crime. And I remember when I would watch you drink, smile, laugh. Eat; smile. Wash. And when I was asleep I would hear you cry. I'm sorry grandma, I was so young. I never understood. A deer was a deer, a tear was a tear, and a tear from a deer was fiction, not fear. Grandma, I knew. Perhaps they knew too. Perhaps they knew that they did not want to know, and so they should continue to live in their all knowing ignorance. You see they didn't know so they weren't to blame, but still no one could bury the mountain of shame. I watched them as they came, turn your tears to wine; gulped down sweet disdain. But still a lump in their throat; forgotten pain. But still a weight in their chest when the news came. Grandma, accidents don't happen. “There's been an accident” he said – collected disposition; combed crew-cut. But I could see great lakes of sweat swell and cascade onto his crisp starched shirt as a million birds migrated from his mind. He would go home to his family tonight, he would eat, shower, slip under the sheets and when he heard his wife sigh sleep, he would call his mother, just to hear her answer the phone. Then hang up. Accidents don’t happen. I remember your sigh, momentarily you would lay down your shield, and let fly a magnificent unadulterated sigh. Grandma, I never got to say goodbye. I woke up this morning, dazed by dream; a land somewhere in-between. And momentarily, it slipped my mind, the plangent wail resides all the time. One day soon, I will grow up, one day I will have everything I dreamt of, and I will be loved. And I will be happy. One day I will have a husband and children. And a dog. And that dog he may grind, but the stars, they will still shine. My neighbour he will still whine, the husband will still dine, the children will still be mine. And in time I will be fine. Soon I too, will wash my hands of this absurd mess and sleep deep; candid bliss.
Grandma, I’m still alone. I’m so alone.

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