BY MICHELLE ELVY
The fact that my dad moved out did not surprise me. It had been coming a long time. I had expected it, even wanted it. What surprised me was the scene I found when I came home from soccer practice that day.
I walked through the kitchen door, saw Mom standing at the long kitchen counter, the one we climbed on as kids and helped roll biscuits on. She held a meat mallet in one hand, tenderizing steaks for dinner. Across the room was Dad, leaning on the table drinking a Budweiser, looking as if nothing had happened. But the pinched skin above his eyebrow was coated in sweat and his hands were shaking just enough to notice.
And then there was my older brother Robbie, sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, his eye swelling yellow and green the size of a baseball. My mother looked up briefly. My brother appeared beaten, but his one good eye told me otherwise. No one spoke. Then Dad grabbed a steak off the counter — a thick juicy one that Mom had not yet pulverized — and placed it gently on Robbie’s eye. “It’ll help,” he said, as he made for the door. He glanced back once, not at my mother and not at me, but at Robbie, who half-shrugged, half-nodded.
My mother took the floppy Popeye-remedy from Robbie’s eye, offered him a cold-pack and a dose of ibuprofen instead. Then she placed the steak on the counter and pounded it tender.
Michelle Elvy lives and writes in New Zealand on a sailboat. She believes that a person is an outcome derived from a sum of experiences, events, and stories, all arranged seemingly willy-nilly yet producing precisely and only one result. Her stories are like that, too. Her recent short fiction has appeared in a number of online literary journals, and she blogs at Glow Worm and Momo. She usually flashes at 52|250, and she is delighted to be flashing here, too.
ooh. very well told. no bumps other than on robbie’s face. this story reminds me of my first and only mens’ group experience – in new zealand. many of the hardened, hurt guys in that group could have been “dad”.
“They” say that good flash captures the climax of the bigger story, encapsulates, yet expands it. You’ve done that here. Very nice.
Another strong piece, Michelle. Beautifully understated, low-key, matter-of-fact; you let their actions communicate so much, especially at the close. Nice work.
Yes, this is like seeing the world in a pin-point, and that last line is wow.
love the Popeye reference – pounding away seems the only way to tenderize some things..just the right note with this piece