Grandpa’s Place

There was nothing in the hallway. And Jasmine felt on the edge of herself somehow, extraordinarily sharp. Several times that night she had been woken by her grandmother’s dog barking outside, and she felt in the near pitch black the margins of her wakeness, of the room’s thereness raise several octaves; the ambient light, the light from under the door flare subtly—whether in reality or in her own experience of it she didn’t know. There was something moving around, even if she couldn’t see it. The dog knew what she did; that something was not right. In the kitchen Jasmine teetered sleepily on the balls of her feet, wondering whether to attempt to eat something. There was still sponge cake. Golf was tomorrow. Burt thought it was a good idea to get the guys around for a game, even those who didn’t particularly like golf, who had no golf equipment and would have to hire it, while the women could loiter along the nature walk, the gift shop. It would be Lucile’s ninetieth birthday. It would be the four month anniversary of her husband’s passing. Sadness was in the house; she felt it still. It was like something that had gone up in flames, turned to smoke and stuck to everything, something that renewed itself at every touch—nothing could be reflected on too deeply and life was lived at a distance as a result of her grandfather’s imbuing everything. Objects became like time portals—the impressions and reflections of the past events in many ways were stronger than the lived ones—that came and went without the understanding of their privilege as things present—things newly emerging and unrepeatable and so sacred. The event happening was only real as long as it endured in the present—but the memory was real forever; the carbon copy was the only real part of it—the event itself, Jasmine strained to articulate in her head, was an artefact of our thinking about it, a deeper part merely of the experience of remembering. “Holograms,” Jasmine said aloud, softly, into the cold air. Like the scent of the floral, violet-symboled toilet paper. It was in the laundry. He was in the laundry. Jasmine pinched a piece of the spongecake, whipped cream and pink jam oozing. She replaced the cling wrap.

Outside she comforted Minnie, her grandmother’s dog. It whined as it curled itself into her dress, tried to hide between her legs.

“It’s okay,” she said, stroking its head. “It’s nothing, relax.”

Indigestion burned inside her. She pressed a hand to her heart and worked through a sudden spring of saliva. “Go back in your house,” she said to Minnie. When she stood she noticed that several of the streetlights were out.

Jasmine slid herself between her already cool sheets and thought about the day tomorrow. Several times as she had tried to get to sleep earlier her scalp had felt tingly, tense. She experienced it again now, and a hissing slightly more intense than her usually mild tinnitus. When she was a child staying at her grandparent’s house, in this very room she would play over and over in her mind the opening animation for Winnie The Pooh, which she would watch on VHS with her cousins and siblings. She would also picture a vacuum cleaner sweeping over the flat plane of her thoughts and sucking it all up, removing what was dark, disorderly, violent, terrible, to absorb and relish the white cleanness of the new page beneath.

Jasmine drifted asleep, keeping her eyes open as long as she possibly could, also something she used to practice as a child to induce sleep and allay her fear of the dark. When she awoke only minutes later she couldn’t move, and felt the presence of something extremely unsavoury, if impotent. In the corner of her eye she watched as, somehow, the metal zipper of her luggage case swung, twisted, and danced silently for what felt like several minutes.

Burt raised his glass of beer as he stood, winked at someone, as likely a waitress as one of the guests. Beyond the glass the golf course where Jasmine’s granddad used to walk at dawn, practice his putt, and note the coming and going of certain types of birds, shimmered in the perfectly mild and breezy weather.

“To grandma,” he said, looking down at his mother, “to being alive.”

Thanks for checking out my short story.

Did I tell you I wrote a novel? You can read it here for free, or get it for your e-reader on iBooks, Amazon or Kobo. Or you can just say you read the book, and donate five bucks down below. Go on.

Gabriel Muoio


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