Flash Fiction: One More Step

To my Grandmother, aka, Nanny.
Miss you, love you.


One More Step

In the back corner of her small world, was a cramped apartment complex; in the back corner of the cramped complex was a suffocating apartment; and in the back corner of that suffocating apartment was a little bed, upon which Grandma Patricia rested. She sat on the bed’s edge, staring past the nightstand decorated with orange bottles and out the cracked window in the paneled wall. Her view nothing more than a weathered wooden fence and overgrown leafy greenery. Hardly anything, yet hardly nothing. AM to PM, PM to AM, it was as far as she could see, though she had no intention of keeping her sights as such.

Beyond the corner in her limited little world, she knew the land was vast. She’d seen it before but it’d been years. Her memory was so fogged, so blended like her days—days that seemed to stretch and stretch but never snap. It was the same every day, making every day one. Beneath the cloud from routine doses, she’d sleepwalk, dreaming of a sun.

Grandma leaned forward, and with a grunt, stood upon pain. Her joints cracked and popped with an ache as they ground together. “Oh, dear God,” she moaned.

Her crooked fingers trembled as she reached for one of the orange bottles on the nightstand…but just before her fingertips touched the hard plastic, she stopped. No, she thought. Not this time.

The process began slow. She slid her left foot forward, then followed it up with a right. It was almost as if she was learning to walk for the first time. The baby steps carried her from the back corner of her room, from the back corner of her apartment and to the edge of the world as she knew it. There in the doorway, something waited: A feeling that knocked impatiently, trying to convince her it was safer inside. With all 425 square feet of the confined apartment guarded by small angel statues, the feeling may have been right, but she knew it wasn’t a home if she was detained to it like a prison.

She stared out at the world through the lenses of her retro style reading glasses; what a beautiful day. The Fall’s sun shone bright rays on her wrinkled skin as it began retreating behind mountains on the horizon. The gentle breeze sent colorful dead leaves dancing across the sidewalk as birds chirped.

“Where are you going, Grandma?” asked a voice from behind. It was her grandson, Jordan.

“I’m going outside, Honey,” she replied casually. But there was nothing casual about it. Jordan considered asking if she’d need help, but didn’t. He knew it was something she wanted to do herself. Something she had to do.

Grandma touched her fingers to the gold cross dangling from her neck…then stepped outside, pushing aside whatever feelings tried locking her in—but as she passed, it was like she was suddenly looking at the world through completely different lenses. What she saw was something gloomy that held underlying hints of beauty, like the shapes of a sculpture underneath a black drape.

The legs upon which she invested her trust became two crumbling pillars. Another limping step. She felt her heart pound like tribal drums in her ears. By the front window her grandson stood, his round eyes unblinking as he watched. Oh, how the young man wanted to cover those eyes; how he wanted so badly to bring her back inside and shield her from all she feared. But instead, he stood stiff, biting his tongue as he watched Grandma limp her way to the edge of the porch, and then beyond.

It was like the air around gave in and the entire weight of the world fell upon her brittle self. She felt the tremors of earthquakes, the batter of bombs, and saw the spin of a twister. Shaking knees upon which she stood begged for relief, but got none. She persisted with another step, feeling as though her house shoes had turned to cinder blocks. Could Grandma not hear her own body’s cries beneath the static in her head? Perhaps not, because she took another step, trying with everything to flee from the corner of the world where she had caged herself.

The outside light was too bright and the dark too dark; every shadow held a something that lurked and Grandma couldn’t shake the hiding eyes of no one watching. Soon, she saw the sky through her fingers turning. Jordan barely got to her in time to grab her and hold her straight.

“Okay, that’s enough, Grandma,” he said. “Come on. Let’s go inside.”

But she hadn’t yet seen what she had dreamt and couldn’t go back without. The world was just right there and she had to see it. Needed to see it. As Jordan led her back across the porch, she held a breath, then let her hand lower. With both feet, she jumped in, left herself open and let it all wash upon her like a wave as gentle as the wind. And as the world fell in on her, she caught it. With the wide sparkling eyes of a child, she looked around, absorbing the world with a wondrous awe.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Oh! Look…look…Lord have mercy…”

In the back corner of her small world, was a cramped apartment complex; in the back corner of the cramped complex was a suffocating apartment; and in the back corner of that suffocating apartment was a little bed, upon which Grandma Patricia laid. With a smile, she gently rested her head back on a pillow and let her eyes close.

“One day at a time,” she whispered to herself. “One step at a time.”


At least now you’re no longer stuck in that one place.

Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it.

1 thought on “Flash Fiction: One More Step”

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