This story was considered “4 minute fiction” We couldn’t go over 800 words and for the final our teacher will be having us shorten it to 50 words. It was one of the challenging ones!
I walked into the house and the feeling that I needed to clean was overwhelming. The green drapes were contorted, the picture frames were off balance, and tiny specs formed solid white layers on the tops of all the dilapidated wooden furniture. My OCD was only this bad when I was upset, and today it was unmanageable. A week ago my older sister Emily and I had been assigned to clean out the remaining belongings in my grandparent’s ranch house. Cancer took my grandmother when I was only twelve, and a week ago the Lord decided that it was my grandfather’s time to join her. To say my papa was my best friend was an understatement.
“Hannah, why don’t you start with the bedroom closet? Sort through Papa’s clothes and decide what can be donated to charity.” She sounded tired. I made my way to closet and slid open the door. The smell of dust bunnies and musky cologne flooded my nose along with a million memories. This was going to be harder than I thought. I started at the beginning of the closet sorting through my grandpa’s favorite flannel sweaters and faded western blue jeans, while reminiscing on all the happy childhood memories I made at this ranch. I was almost to the back of the closet when I spotted a yellow flannel shirt with navy blue stripes in the far right hand corner and a memory began to flood my mind.
I was seven years old and my papa had finally decided it was time to get me up on a horse. He was going to raise me to be a real “southern bell”. Grandma wasn’t having it. She was the protector of my fragile little self and knew papa like the back of her hand. After much pleading and reasoning, grandma finally gave in and we were on our way to the barn that musky August afternoon. “You’re just going to love this, Hannah banana. He said with a tobacco grin. The ground was still wet from the rain the night before as approached the muddy stalls and papa started to lead the youngest stallion, Zippy, out of his stall. Once papa settled himself on Zippy he pulled me up and set me in front of him. My anxiety turned into excitement.
There we were just Papa and I riding along, the wind blowing through my blonde braids when all of a sudden Zippy saw something in the bushes. Before we could catch glimpse of what he saw, Zippy was off cantering through the field throwing both papa and I off into a big pile of mud. I turned and looked at papa with big blue eyes praying that he was okay. “Papa, Papa, are you all right? His yellow shirt now appeared brown. I was starting to get worried when all of a sudden papa started laughing so hard I thought he was going to pass out. A smile crossed my face and soon enough we were both lying on the ground, covered in mud, laughing so hard our faces were red. After we found Zippy we headed back to the stalls. “Papa what do you think grandma will do? “Oh you leave your grandma to me, kiddo.” We walked back to the house hand in hand.
“Hannah, are you alright?” I snapped back to reality at the sound of my sister’s voice and realized I was crying hysterically. “I think that’s enough for today, go home to your husband.” I hugged Emily and stuffed the yellow flannel in my keepsake box. Once I got home I set the box on the bedroom dresser and my husband, Paul let me cry on his shoulder for a good hour before I decided I was well enough to start dinner while he showered.
I spent 20 minutes setting the table so not one utensil was crooked or out of place. “Paul are you coming?” I yelled up the stairs. I continued to fiddle with the table cloth so it was perfectly centered when Paul said, “smells good, babe”. I turned around to find my husband in a yellow flannel shirt with navy blue stripes, papa’s shirt. A smile as wide as the horizon spread across my face and I couldn’t help but laugh.