The Good Life

Lately I’ve been posting short, short stories from my creative writing program. They are all first drafts, before I receive edits and feedback. I wanted to share the writing process. Most of the stories so far, I’ve posted four, are snippets of larger pieces. 

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My grandfather was on his driveway. The home behind him had seen the birth of sixteen of his children, some of them present now as they inspected his busted Buick.

Minutes earlier, Grandpa, who was almost blind, drove right into a fire hydrant in his attempt to turn into his driveway.

“At 89 he shouldn’t be driving” some muttered, while others nodded or glanced up in agreement. Grandpa was not upset though.

“You could have killed someone,” proclaimed my Uncle Murray. I suspected, even then, that Grandpa did not care. Something funny about getting older; you have survived everything a dozen times over. There was a sense that he was on his way out and his apathy extended to everyone and everything.

It was a hot summer day on busy Arlington Street in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Eventually Grandpa sat down in an old brown recliner in the garage and let his sons worry about what to do.

“You can’t drive anymore,” yelled Uncle Murray, his hands on his hips, decades before he disappeared. “That’s it!” Again, Grandpa was quiet. I was on the front lawn thinking how unhappy adults seemed. I imagined that one day I would look like Grandpa and asked myself if that was something I wanted.

My uncles determined that if Grandpa needed to go somewhere he would ask one of them to take him. The Buick was gone the next day.

Now in my 40s my grandfather is long gone. He died a couple of years later, peacefully in his sleep.

Grandpa was married to my grandmother for 60 years. They raised an entire family, lost two children, yet continued to live with verve. They lie together in a cemetery in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I have never visited their graves. I don’t think many in the family has either. Something funny happens when you die. People become accustomed to not seeing your face and forget the sound of your voice. They pass your framed portraits with little thought.

That day, while Grandpa sat in the garage, I remember thinking rather fleetingly about the cruelty of being old. I imagined him reflecting on his life and how one day soon it would all be over. Maybe he thought about how meaningless it all was.

Maybe that’s what he was thinking. On the other hand, maybe, he wasn’t thinking anything at all.

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