• • •
A Fleeting Rainbow
“We can do it?”
“Yes we can, honey,” Sally lilts, each word matched with a pull of the trigger of a spray bottle of Glass Up. The sun catches every misty spritz and paints a fleeting rainbow. “Do you know who that is, Melinda?”
“Uummm… the We Can Do It Lady?”
Sally smiles, but she doesn’t laugh. If she laughs she’ll need to breathe, and she doesn’t want to breathe the fumes from the Glass Up. When the table is clean and the paper towel’s thrown in the chiminea, Sally sits next to Melinda on the lounge chair and picks her up, plops her in her lap. She then takes the coffee mug and holds it so Melinda can hold it too.
“This lady’s name is Rosie the Riveter, Melinda. Have you learned about the world wars in school yet?”
The patio catches Melinda’s bottom jaw. “The whole world was at war??”
Another smile. “It sure was. More than once, too. I wouldn’t worry about that too much now, though. You’re too young to be thinking about that kind of nonsense.”
“Wars are nonsense, Mommy?”
“They sure are. When ‘man has a stick, he will undoubtedly swing it. Always be weary around ‘man, Melly.”
“But Daddy’s a man, Mommy! And so is uncle Dally!”
Sally’s glad she’s having so many laughs this morning. She won’t be laughing later on, but right now? Right now isn’t later on. Right now she’ll enjoy the company of her daughter.
“I didn’t mean men, honey, I meant human. That’s what we are, it’s just in our nature to fight. We always hold on as long as we can, no matter how flimsy the branch is nor how much it cracks. We hang on ‘til the end and then we drop, and when we drop? Honeybear, we drop.”
“We drop? ”
“Boy do we ever drop….” Sally sighs. She almost forgets how this got started… almost forgets. She doesn’t really forget. If she really forgot, then…
The phone rings, startling Sally into reality. “Hop up baby, I gotta go get that.”
“But what about Rosie the Riveter, Mommy?”
“Melly, I will tell you when I come back out,” Sally says as she lifts this small monkey off her lap. “I’ve been expecting this call all day, I really gotta get it. Just stay out here, okay? Smell the flowers or somethin’.”
Melinda shrugs, then walks over by the purple and yellow irises and starts sniffing away. She turns back but her Mommy is already inside, and she didn’t even leave the door cracked! It must be an important phone call.
The flowers smell nice today.
“Do you remember that watch we got her last week?”
“Yeah, of course. I’m the one who bought it, dude.”
“Right, sorry. Um… but, Sal’, she thinks we gave it to her this morning.”
A few seconds of heavy hesitation. “So, so what? It was only last week, that’s not that bad. We might as well have given it to her this morning.”
“Sally… all right, fine. Do you remember that blue jay thing?”
“The blue jay… what?”
“That thing that hangs on the wall. I think Melinda gave it to her for Christmas?”
“Yeah, okay, yeah I know what you mean. What about it?”
“She thinks we gave that to her this morning, too…”
Sally doesn’t say a word.
“Look, apparently she thinks the blue jay is real too, because she’s been petting it. The top of its head is white, Sally. It used to be black, now it’s white. If she keeps this shit up she’s going to wear a hole into the damned thing, then she’ll cut herself. We can’t have our senil–”
“Stop it!!” Sally shouts. Dally hears a pair of whooshes, like a deep breath was taken and returned. “I’m sorry, Dal’. I just…”
“Look, I get it. I was the same way when Hank started to go, but um… ah fuck, Sally, she thinks Hank’s still alive. She thinks he’s going to come home at the next hour, and then when the next hour comes? She thinks he’ll be back the hour after that. It’s bad. We can’t let her live here alone, Sally.”
“Do you think I don’t know that? We tried putting her into a home when Hank died, she wouldn’t let us! And when I went there alone she fucking attacked me! We can’t–”
“We can’t let her stay there alone, Sally. Listen…” He sighs. “I think that, where she’s at now, if we brought her to a home, she’d forget the car ride by the time she saw her room. It… we…”
“We need to do what we need to do,” Sally decides. She’s looking out the slider now, at that old coffee mug sitting on the lounge chair on the patio. How did Melly even find that thing? “You’re right, we have to. We can do it… it won’t be easy, but we can do it.”
“Yeah… all right, we’re on the same page then. I’ll talk to you more about it when I see you tonight, okay?”
“Yeah. I love you, Dal’.”
“Love you too, Sal’. See you soon.”
Melinda removes her entire nose from the violet petals of the iris when she hears the slider. “Is everything okay, Mommy?”
Melinda’s Mommy smiles at her, but Melinda can tell she’s sad. She beelines and hugs her Mommy.
Sally picks her up and sits them back down on the lounge chair. “Everything’s great, honey. Life is just… life can be heavy sometimes.”
“Yeah, heavy. Sometimes you gotta be big and strong, dear.” Sally picks up the coffee mug and puts it in Melinda’s hands. “Sometimes you gotta flex your muscles like Rosie the Riveter and remind yourself: We can do it.”
“We can do it…” Melinda parrots. She likes the bandanna on Rosie the Riveter’s head, it looks cool. “Can I have a bandanna like Rosie does, Mommy?”
“Sure, honey. You can have anything you want.”
This has been the fourth story from Highdeas: The Lost Stories from the Seven Earths, a flash fiction anthology hidden in the back of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~