Making a Sandwich
February 24, 2012
Here's this week's short story challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds. In his words:
You have up to 1000 words to write a story — not a scene, but a story — where a character makes a sandwich. Any kind of character, any kind of sandwich, but the point is to infuse this seemingly mundane act with the magic story-stuff of drama and conflict. Make it the most interesting “person-making-a-sandwich” story you can possibly make it.
As always, these challenges are fun - so here's my story ...
Edit - this was published online in May, by the Pittsburg Flash Fiction Gazette!
Making a Sandwich
"Want me to make you one too, hun?"
"No thanks Dad, I had a bite earlier. Just this tea is fine."
"I don't mind, I'm already making one for your mother."
She watched his slow yet precise movements around the kitchen. He'd always been the cook in the family, taking simple pleasure in the routines. He opened the fridge, took out the bacon, turned to the cutting board, picking up a knife on the way. He cut off two thick slices, placed them in the pan, back to the fridge with the bacon - part of a smooth dance that he'd done for years.
"I'm making her favorite," he said, "a BLT. Fresh bread from Henderson's, bacon nice and crispy, a tomato from our garden, some mixed greens, and light mayonnaise. Tell you what, I'll split it between the two of you."
"Thanks, Dad," she said. "So, have you thought about what we talked about?"
"Chelsea Lodge? I don't know hun, this has always been our home. You grew up here, all our friends are in the neighbourhood." He gestured around the room. "How could we leave all this?"
"Dad, most of the old neighborhood gang have moved away. Some are even in the same retirement home, don't you remember when we went last week to see it? And all those friends greeted you and said how much they loved it there?"
"Yes, yes, I remember now," he said.
She sighed quietly. His memory had really started to slip the past few months. She watched as he took some tongs from a drawer and carefully turned over the bacon pieces.
"Can't let it cook too fast," he said.
"We did see a nice unit there, remember Dad? A cosy bedroom, nice sitting room, and a compact kitchen. You could make your own little snacks there. And if you felt like a change, the dining room is quite nice, you'd been impressed with the meal we had there."
He poked at the bacon, picked it out of the pan and laid it on a paper towel. He carefully sliced some bread, placed it in the toaster, and pushed the lever down. Her father glanced over to the table. "Your mom and I met fifty years ago, you know, and we bought this place together. I'd miss her so much. And I don't like being alone."
"She'd never be far from you Dad. And we'd all come to visit you often, it's only a few miles away."
"I know," he said. "But it's a big change. My goodness, what would we do with all this stuff?"
"Dan and I have lots of storage," she said. "We can help you sort through things, separate what you really need now from what you might need later. And maybe you'll find some things you've enjoyed but can now pass on to the needy."
He plucked the toast out as it popped, buttered it carefully, then spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on both slices.
"We really have settled in here," he said. "It's been a long and happy life together."
He added the bacon, tomato, and greens, slowly and methodically, sliced it in half, and set the two plates on the table.
"There you go, for my two favorite girls."
She enjoyed her half-sandwich and watched her dad clean up the kitchen, listening to him chatter on about some TV show. He wasn't doing too badly physically. She'd hired a weekly housekeeper to help with some laundry and vacuuming, and to try to manage all the leftovers in the fridge.
"Thanks dad, this was nice. Sorry I have to run, but I'll be back next week."
"We're always glad to see you," he said. "I'll get your coat."
She picked up both plates, hers and the untouched one across the table. As she tipped the other half-sandwich into the garbage and stacked the plates in the sink, she wondered how long it would take him to adjust to his loss. She pushed in her chair, and walked into the front hall.
"Take care Dad. We'll talk some more in a few days."
This story pulled me along and was executed perfectly. It made me feel for him, the daughter and the loss of the mother/wife. My chest aches with it. Wonderful job. Thank you for sharing this story.
Posted by: Morgan Dragonwillow | February 24, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Thx for the kind words Morgan, I'd wanted to have that balance between fact and assumptions, feelings and loss, the story surprised me a bit as I wrote it, turned out even better as it went along.
This is why we write.
Posted by: Ravens | February 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Very nicely done Mike. Like the prompt suggested, this story did not let go till the end. All the way through, I was thinking 'This daughter is really getting ahead of herself, they're doing fine, he's slicing bacon, totally lucid." I was actually surprised at the end and you have a great ear for dialogue.
Posted by: Jasmine | February 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Jasmine - thx. Yes, except for that one detail, he was doing fine. Had a similar situation with someone a few years ago, they were doing fine in some areas, not so fine in others, very much a judgement call on whether they could be ok on their own or not.
Posted by: Ravens | February 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Excellent story Mike, I really liked the dialogue and the flow. The ending was very good and made me legitimately sad. One thing did throw me out of the pace of the story, I wondered why he would be leaving his wife to move into a nursing home, when he says he will miss her. It didn't make much sense with the information I had and I guessed the direction of the story.
Keep writing and I'm excited to stop back by and keep reading.
Posted by: Samuel Schultz | February 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM