After dinner, Grandmother shoos Billy
and Grandfather out to the garden. Billy lies upon his stomach
studying the cracks in the earth, watching an ant take stock of its
surroundings, legs and antennae feeling...studying...committing the
way to memory. Three feet away, Grandfather hoes between his tomato
They pass an hour in silence. The air
cools. The sun nestles into the horizon. Billy blinks and widens his
eyes. The stars leap into the sky like popping corn. Grandfather
reaches out, then balls his fist. "Quick, child. Dig a hole."
Billy jumps to his feet and grabs a
Grandfather kneels and opens his hand
over the hole Billy has scratched into the dirt. "A seedling
star is a wondrous thing."
"Stars don't grow, Grandfather."
"Plant anything in this soil,
it'll grow." Grandfather pats down the earth and rises to his
"Grandfather planted a star,"
Billy tells Grandmother later.
"Have you taken your pills,
Daniel?" She opens a bottle; shakes out three white pills onto
"Magic beans." Grandfather
"Memory pills." Grandmother
returns the bottle to the windowsill.
After the house falls silent and still,
Billy tiptoes to the kitchen. His hand reaches and retreats, reaches
and retreats, like the ebb and flow of the ocean as it tries to
determine whether it's coming or going and what it stands for and
why, in fact, it even exists. Deliberate now, the boy wraps his hand
around the bottle and runs to the garden, spilling out the pills like
In July, Billy brings Grandfather an
ear of corn, a silky strand still clinging to that thin space between
rows. "Eat, Grandfather," the boy says. "I grew you a
But by now, Grandfather has forgotten
how to eat, has forgotten, indeed, that corn is corn.
Billy cries himself to sleep with the
waste and guilt undeserved for a progression as inexplicable as waves
upon the sand and the sea turtles that find their way home by the
light of the moon.
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
Labels: flash fiction, Trifecta Writing Challenge