“You think things are bad now?”
Mattie’s grandmother had come to live with her, her mother, and her two-month-old baby girl, Gracie, last week. If you’d asked Mattie what she thought of Grams two weeks ago she’d have made like a Hallmark card. Visiting the ranch in Montana where Grams and her two sons raised beef cattle had been a highlight growing up. Grams was a tough, no-nonsense woman with a soft spot for her granddaughters. Mattie and the rest of the cousins adored Grams.
However, the Grams who had been shipped unceremoniously to Wisconsin by Mattie’s uncles was querulous, demanding, and selectively deaf. And what was the deal with that old bike with the wheelbarrow thing in front that had arrived the day after Grams by special delivery from the uncles?
And, Dear God, would Grams never stop talking about how bad things had been in the winter of ’47 or during the drought of ’66 or when hoof and mouth disease decimated their entire herd in ‘79? Mattie discovered the one thing that would shut her up was to plop little Gracie into her lap. For her part, Gracie found Grams fascinating and would immediately stop fussing to stare raptly at the lined old face grinning down at her. Win, win.
Fixing it up and then taking that old delivery bike out for a spin each afternoon kept Mattie sane and reasonable. Call it win, win, win.
Gracie parked Gram’s delivery bike by the rear door of the nursing home and gathered the muffins and flowers. The bike had cost a fortune to restore but was paying for itself as the harder working partner in Gracie’s new home delivery company. Frank, the security guard, happily accepted a muffin and waved her on. The rest of the muffins were for the staff. Mattie might notice the flowers, but she would stare at a muffin in confusion all day.
Gracie always let the staff know any calls from her daughter were a priority. She didn’t like leaving her oldest, Irene, with the twins for too long and any call could be some emergency. That call never came. Irene might only be 12, but she had things under control.
Irene arrived at the bike repair shop ten minutes before closing, apologizing to Ben while shaking the rain out of her hair. Ben hadn’t wanted to take on Gracie’s old delivery bike. It was a real wreck, but Irene insisted. She backed the van to the open garage door and Ben wrestled the tarted-up old thing up into the van.
The biggest hit at Gracie’s surprise 99th birthday party was the sparkling bright delivery bike complete with an electric motor. Irene stood back with a huge grin as her Mom immediately pushed aside grandchildren, cake, and gifts alike to go for a ride.
Rusting slowly away in the rain, the old delivery bike was disappearing into the underbrush. Low odds anyone will save it this time.
© Remington Write 2020. All Rights Reserved
Read AleXander Hirka’s version here:
In August 2020, AleXander Hirka set himself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image is that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to his Mom and the concept is Time. In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.