The Decline: A Short Short by JohnMValentine


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Grandma was fast asleep like always when Sam and his mom visited. Sam would crouch low and slide his hand through hers and she’d wake up with a silly grin on her face and she’d give him a kiss on the nose. Sam was her favorite grandson. Whenever they visited for family events she’d chase him around the house, crawling after the boy and getting rug burns on her knees, then finally latching onto his ankles and corralling him into a bear hug. In bed at night, Sam would carefully unwrap and devour all the Hershey Kisses slipped into his hand on his way out the door. This covert tradition continued, even in the nursing home. Sam’s soft hand slowly brushed grandma’s cheek and the young boy waited for her body to recognize his touch. One eye opened, and then a second, and then there were ridges taking shape on her forehead. “Hey Grandma!” Sam grabbed the bedrail, climbed on the foot of the bed, and snuggled in between her arms. “Lorey, what is this boy doing on my bed!” Sam’s mom lowered herself onto the chair in the corner of the room. “Mom, what are you talking about? Sam is your grandson, remember?” “Lorey, this is such foolishness. Don’t you think I wouldn’t know my own grandson? Now get this kid off my bed would you?” A strong nudge forced Sam off the edge of the bed and onto the carpet. Lorey exploded from her chair. “Mom, don’t you remember anything? The matchbox cars…those damn Hershey Kisses you always gave him…the rug burns you got from the floor?” The wrinkles cascaded down grandma’s sullied skin as her brow lifted and she stared inquisitively at her daughter. “Mom!” cried Lorey. She lifted the


bed sheet and rolled grandma’s nightgown to her mid leg. The skin on her knees was scarred over and soft from months of bedrest. Sam began to weave his fingers between the old women’s, but her hand slowly withdrew into the sheets. “Mom, is grandma ok?” he asked. “I’ll tell you all about it in the car baby. Let’s leave,” Lorey whispered. As the pair turned to leave the room, Sam loosed himself from his mother’s hold and reached into the nightstand drawer. The chocolate met the boy’s lips as he allowed himself one last glance at the bed and the old woman buried under the covers then walked out the door. Cringing at the bitter taste of the Kiss, Sam spat it out on the sidewalk on the way out.

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