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Brigit's Flame, April, week #1

Title: Midnight Train to Georgia
Author: keppiehed
Word Count: 835
Prompt: “shade”
A/N: Written for week #1 at brigits_flame. All of "Grandma"'s dialogue are song lyrics from Gladys Knight's Midnight Train to Georgia.








“Okay, are you sure you’re ready for this?”

Kristin turned her head to avoid meeting her mother’s gaze. “I don’t have any choice, remember?”

Sue gripped the steering wheel and made a left into the nursing home parking lot. “That isn’t true. I just said it’s been awhile since you’ve been in to see Grandma, that’s all.”

“What’s the point?” Kristin asked. “Grandma’s crazy.”

“Kristin!” Sue frowned. “That’s not nice.”

“Well, she is,” Kristin said, still facing the window. She drew a heart in the condensation her breath left on the pane, then crossed it out.

“Stop it,” Sue said, but she didn’t elaborate on what to stop. “We’re here. Just … try to be pleasant for once. Okay?”

The slamming of the car door was her only answer.

The woman behind the welcome desk recognized Sue and waved them through. “How is she today, Brenda?” Sue asked.

“Oh, same as always. A bit excited after breakfast,” Brenda said. “She always likes pancake day.”

“Good,” Sue said. She turned right and walked down the hall.

“Pancake day,” Kristin said. “God, I hope I die if that’s what I have to look forward to. Just kill me.”

“Sh! We’re here,” Sue said. Then, louder, “Hey, Mom, it’s me. How are you today? I brought someone to see you.”

They stepped into the room without knocking. It felt smaller than it was with shades that were perpetually kept drawn, as if to ward off any bit of cheer from all but the most anemic light that filtered through. Though there were two beds, only one of them was occupied. “Georgia!” the old woman croaked.

Kristin recoiled. “See? She doesn’t even know who I am!”

“Don’t be silly,” Sue said. “It’s the stroke, remember? She just says the wrong things sometimes. She knows you. Say hi.”

Kristin cleared her throat. “Hi, Grandma.”

“Georgia, yeah,” Grandma said.

Sue pulled two folding chairs from behind the door and opened them. “I heard you had a good morning, Mom. Is that right?”

“Proved too much for the man,” Grandma said. “Too much!”

Sue nodded. “You’re tired, then. You should rest, maybe. There’s going to be Bingo later, and you don’t want to miss that.”

“She didn’t say that,” Kristin whispered.

Sue pulled out a ball of yarn and began knitting. “You have to do your best to understand, honey. Why don’t you tell her about school? She’s been asking.”

“Yeah, right,” Kristin said.

Sue frowned.

Kristin sighed. “Fine. Grandma, I got straight A’s last semester. Dad says that if I keep my grades up I can probably qualify for a scholarship, and he’ll take me on a tour of all the colleges I want to see over the summer. So I’m really excited about that.”

Grandma spit a glob on mucus into her hand and let it drip onto the floor. “Dreams don't always come true, uh uh.”

“Ew!” Kristin shouted.

Sue jumped to her feet and wiped away the mess. “Mom, you should have told me you needed help. That’s what I’m here for.”

“Oh-oh, he's leaving,” Grandma said.

“Not yet, Mom, we just got here,” Sue said.

“Why does she keep calling you a ‘he?’” Kristin asked.

“She’s just a little confused,” Sue answered. “She knows who we are. She remembers you. Go on, tell her something else.”

Kristin folded her arms. “No thanks.”

“A simpler place and time,” Grandma said. She pointed at Kristin, and then at Sue. “Guess who’s gonna be right by his side.”

“Um ...” Kristin narrowed her eyes. “Why is Grandma talking like Dr. Seuss?”

“Since the stroke she only says things from the lines of a song,” Sue said. “But she understands everything you’re saying.

“Are you kidding me? All songs or just one song?” Kristin asked.

“Just one song,” Sue said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” Sue said. “It’s just how it is. I imagine it must be frustrating. Don’t you?”

“Yeah. Especially if it was some lame ass song.”

“Kristin!”

Kristin shrugged. “What? It probably is.”

“I'm gonna be with him,” Grandma said. “For love.” She was looking right at Kristin.

Kristin swallowed. “I love you, too?”

Grandma nodded. “I know you will.”

They didn’t stay long after that. Sue talked about her quilting bee and Kristin mentioned her new boyfriend, and then they left. In the car, they were quiet on the ride home.

“Mom, what was the song that Grandma knew the words to?”

“Midnight Train to Georgia. Although I wish she had one with more lines in it. I’m not sure why that one stuck in her head.” Sue said. “Dad used to love to hear her sing it, though. She had a beautiful voice, you know.”

“I didn’t know that,” Kristin said.

“I’ll have to tell you about her sometime,” Sue said. “If you’d like to hear.”

“Okay,” Kristin said. “Maybe sometime I could visit Grandma again, too.”

This time, it was Sue’s turn to face the window so her daughter wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
bluegerl
Apr. 2nd, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC)
Oow. That was lovely and sad and true and right and atmospheric and so sad. But was grandma really sad - I don't think so... she was still singing to Dad, long gone and waiting.

SMASHING, if a bit gulpy-making! HUGS.
keppiehed
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:35 pm (UTC)
Aw, you are always so kind to me. I hope the grandma wasn't too sad. I don't know anyone like this, but my heart really wrenches for people as they grow older. It's a subject that has always been dear to my heart for some reason, so I feel driven to write about it. Thank you for reading!
rubyelf
Apr. 2nd, 2014 10:48 pm (UTC)
Beautiful work... and probably close to home for too many of us, although my grandmother was lucid right till the end, even if she was in bad shape. But that song... oh, my. Of all the songs. I can so clearly hear her singing it to her husband a long time ago...
keppiehed
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry that your grandma was in a bad way at the end. :( But I am glad that she was lucid and knew you. It is heartbreaking to go through Alzheimer's or something of that nature. And I'm glad you approve of the song choice. I'm not sure why I decided on that--it just seemed especially evocative to me. And thank you so much for reading. You are always so supportive and I really appreciate it!
jlly_coppercorn
Apr. 7th, 2014 03:20 pm (UTC)
That truly would be a frustrating situation.
Good story :)
keppiehed
Apr. 8th, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That's very kind of you to say. :)
missflyer
Apr. 7th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
Bittersweet...

I have to say I'm not at all familiar with that song, so thanks for the heads up in the beginning.

There is something to say about being intuitive and connecting the dots. Even when something doesn't seem to make any sense on the surface, just underneath a few layers you can find what it means.
keppiehed
Apr. 8th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's an old Motown song. If you like that sort of thing, it's worth a listen. They don't make 'em like that anymore!

Thank you so much for giving it a read; I really appreciate it.
darlinleo
Apr. 8th, 2014 03:26 am (UTC)
Very inventive and sweet! You're such a good storyteller, Keppie.
keppiehed
Apr. 8th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
You are so sweet to say so! Thank you kindly. *hugs*
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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