Back when I took the F2K Free Creative Writing course, I discovered how much I love writing short stories. After several lessons were under our belts, we were given a short story challenge. Participation was voluntary and if we so desired, we could try our hands at the guidelines. These were, write a story with a beginning, middle and end, one thousand words or less, containing these three objects: a blanket, a TV stand and an empty glass.
I couldn’t believe the ideas these three objects sparked. Long time readers of my blog will be familiar with this since I’ve asked you to submit these objects that I call sparks for a few short stories here. The first story I wrote is dear to my heart and I had originally posted it on the blog until a fellow writer told me if I ever wanted to publish the story, it couldn’t be published elsewhere. I contacted one publication that focuses on the kind of material this story is about but they don’t publish fiction.
I’ve decided the story doesn’t belong anywhere if not that publication or right here at the Roof. It has been just sitting in my computer collecting dust and a writer wants her creativity to be experienced by others. So, I decided Thanksgiving would be a good day to publish my first ever short story here. I hope you enjoy it!
Word Count: 993
The sun was setting as I left, a slight chill in the air. My name was called from the direction of the smokers, and as I turned, I saw Troy breaking free of the haze as he tossed his smoke and jogged toward me.
“Troy, congratulations my man.” I took him into a warm hug.
“Pat, thanks. And thank you for being a part of this last year. I have a favor to ask you…” he trailed off, as if afraid to continue. He often called me is sober mom, since I was old enough to be. When he walked into the rooms a year ago, he was the shell of a boy lingering on the threshold of manhood. How things change, I thought. I urged him to ask his question by saying nothing, only squeezing his hand.
“I watch you crochet those blankets,” he began sheepishly, “and I wonder if you’d make me one. I’ll pay you.” His eyes filled with tears and for a second, I couldn’t speak. I hadn’t expected that, the question, nor the show of emotion.
“Of course I’ll make you a blanket but you can pay me by explaining why asking for it filled those beautiful baby blues with tears.” I grinned at him and he relaxed.
“Deal. Can you make it in shades of green?”
“You got it darlin.” He had no other requests as to the pattern or anything, just shades of green. Interesting, I thought as I walked to my car.
Over the next few weeks, I worked on his blanket. When I crochet something for someone,a little love goes in to every stitch. I thought about Troy and how far he had come, and a few tears even made their way into the strands of yarn. When the finishing touches were added, and the blanket washed, I called Troy and we met for coffee.
As we settled in, whisps of smoke in the air and Nirvana spilling from the speakers, the blanket tucked neatly into a bag at my feet, I faced Troy, sipping the bitter espresso. “Ok, you know the deal, spill.”
Troy sighed and took a long pull on his mocha. “My mother crocheted me a blanket when I was 16. I mean, sure it was nice and all, but hell, I was 16. I wanted cds and nudey mags, you know? I don’t think I ever even used it, but I always had it, even when I left at 18, immersed in my drinking. I started dating this girl who found it and washed it and draped it over my couch. It looked so stupid. A crocheted blanket in shades of green on my stained, beat up blue couch,” he laughed and took another long pull of his mocha.
“When I was 19, mom was killed in a drunk driving accident. She was the drunk one. I hated her for that.”
I sat there, the warmth slowly fading from my cup.
Troy continued, “ironically, I hated her for being what I was becoming. One night some buddies were over and we got loaded. One of the guys ended up puking everywhere. I was already blacked out by then. Another guy grabbed that blanket off the couch, mopped up the vomit, and took the blanket to the dumpster.”
“I woke up the next morning, sprawled on the floor by the tv. I reached up and touched my aching head and it was sticky with blood. I had fallen into the tv stand the night before and busted open my eyebrow. I remember staring at an empty glass next to the tv. Had that been my glass? I still don’t know. I don’t remember how I found out about the blanket, but I remember running to the dumpster, only to find it completely empty. The damn trash man had already been there. I drank even more in those last few months, eventually landing myself a good ol’ DUI and walking into my first meeting after a nudge from the judge. When my head started clearing, and I saw you making those blankets, I knew I needed one.”
He stopped talking and flopped back onto the couch, fishing in his pocket for a cigarette. He tried lighting it with shaking hands, until I took the lighter and lit it for him. I didn’t speak and neither did he. When he was done smoking, I reached down and handed him the bag. He gingerly removed the blanket from the bag, lovingly caressing the different textured yarns in many shades of green. Finally he broke down, leaning forward with his head in the folds of the blanket arms on his knees, shoulders wracking with sobs. Now a grown man, unabashedly sobbing in the coffee shop.
We could have looked like mother and son there in that hazy shop, as I set my cup down and wrapped him in my arms as the blanket soaked up his tears. When he had calmed, he sat up and gave me a winning smile, mouthing the words, thank you.
“No, thank you,” I whispered. Brushing his hair from his forehead I said, “I knew that story would be the best payment you could have given me for this blanket. You are a miracle my son. I’m so honored to be a part of your amends to your mom.”
His eyes widened. “Amends?”
I sat back and smiled. “How do we make amends to the dead? We live our lives with grace and dignity and maybe we recreate something we lost of them. Isn’t that what you did?” He laughed and said he hadn’t thought of it that way, but agreed that I was right.
The sun was setting as we left the coffee shop, hand in hand, mother and son in sobriety, his story still swimming in our minds, a part of both our pasts now, and pushing us forward into the future, one day at a time.