“People can’t write complete stories in one hundred words,” Matthew said, shaking his head.
“Of course they can, Grandpa.”
“Stories need to have beginnings, middles, and ends. There’s no way to do that in such few words, Julia.”
Julia sighed, then wrote in her notebook. She counted, scribbled out words, added others. When she finished, she handed it to Matthew.
There were tears in his eyes as he read a tale of his birth, finding his first and only love, then losing her to cancer a month earlier.
“Well, I’ll be,” he said, pulling out his handkerchief. “Guess you can.”
The old recliner had seen better days. It’s once tan leather was now battleship gray and moldy green. One split seam and a tattered back recorded six generations of feline love. A hand-knitted afghan draped across the arm, waiting for the next visitor.
“Why don’t you get rid of that old thing?” visitors would say.
“It doesn’t match our new furniture,” his wife would say.
The two oldest children turned up their noses at the old hand-me-down.
Frank sat in the old recliner and closed his eyes. His youngest daughter climbed into his lap, pulled the afghan over her legs and opened her picture book. “Read to me, Daddy,” she said.
He opened his eyes, smiled, and pulled her in close. “Great-Grandma Jo and I used to sit under the afghan, drink hot chocolate by the fire, and read every night,” he told her as he opened the book.
“I’m going to read to my children in our chair too, Daddy.”
He smiled, wiped a tear from his eye, and kissed her head. “I hope you do, sweetie, I hope you do.”
Cats yowl and squirrels chatter.
Car belts squeal and brakes screech.
Lawn mowers and rakes litter lawns.
Bouncing basketballs and laughing children pass by.
A man runs through yards, behind gates and fences.
Police cars creep up and down the street.
Another man crawls out of trash can and runs up street.
Dogs bark and cats hiss.
Ladies gossip on the front porch.
Husbands listen to the ladies and smile.
The perfect end to another day in the neighborhood.
Words float, swing, and sway with the breeze.
Yet none land on the page.