A Short Story

I'm taking a writing course with Bob Goff. Our assignment for Week 3 was to write a short story. This was inspired by a dream my mama had a few nights ago.


“What in the world?! Darlene! Incoming!” Dr. Samuel Tiller just happened to be looking out the window when he saw two of Cherry Hill’s respected senior citizens making a bee line for the clinic. Miss Helen was driving a motorized grocery cart. Miss Grace was sitting in the front basket with her purse and a shoe in her lap. The shoeless foot was extended straight forward, wrapped in what looked like a roll of paper towels tied with a lady’s half-slip. Both ladies sat completely erect with a dignity and determination reserved for parade floats. They were escorted by 10 to 15 citizens all talking at once.

Miss Helen expertly drove the cart straight through the clinic entrance.

“Ladies,” greeted the doctor.

“Doctor,” returned the ladies in unison.

Dr. Sam tried to piece the story together from the crowd. “Robber. Bless her heart. Can’t believe she nailed him with a 24 oz Hellman’s. Tripped him with her cane. He’ll be wipin’ mayo off his head for weeks. Hope they don’t let him shower! Serves him right.”

Darlene suggested the posse go tell the newspaper their story and got the ladies settled into an exam room where she fed them lunch while Dr. Sam worked on getting broken glass from the mayonnaise jar out of Miss Grace’s foot.

Plink. The shard of glass fell into the stainless steel tray.

“That’s the last of it, Miss Grace.”

“Be sure and clean it out real well, Sammy. I don’t want any bacteria growing in my foot from warm mayonnaise.”

“Yes, M’am.”

The doctor smiled behind his face mask. Miss Grace was the only person other than his mother who still called him Sammy.

“I see you smiling behind that mask, young man. But I’m serious. I wasn’t born stupid and I still know how to clean a wound. Lord knows I bandaged you up more times than I can count when you had more brawn than brains.”

“Yes, m'am. You’re the one who talked me into being a doctor. You said, it would save on medical supplies.”

They shared a laugh that circled around memories, insides jokes, never empty cookie jars, and lots of weed pulling for sassy comments.

“I still don’t quite understand how you got yourself in the middle of a robbery.”

“Well that was my fault.” Miss Helen was sitting in the corner with her chin dropped down to her chest and her eyes closed. She always 'rested her eyes' after lunch. “We ran out of mayonnaise for the banana bread we were fixin’ for the new neighbors. You remember the Coles? Well they sold out the family home and moved to Arizona. Hot as blazes, but the swimming pools are some consolation I suppose.”

Dr. Sam stopped working to look at Miss Helen who never opened her eyes. “Excuse me, Miss Helen. Did you say mayonnaise for banana bread?”

“It’s what makes us prize winners every year. But anything I say in this office is covered under patient confidentiality, Samuel. I shall leave you the recipe in my will, but if you whisper a word of this, I shall cut you off completely.”

“Your banana bread is covered under the HIPA act, Miss Helen,” vowed the doctor.

Miss Helen lifted her head and locked eyes with the town doctor who met her gaze with a seriousness reserved for football losses and funerals. Satisfied, she gave a curt nod and picked up a magazine.

Dr. Sam continued, “Miss Grace, you’re not gonna be able to walk on this for a bit.”

“I’ll be just fine.”

“She’s comin’ home with me,” declared Miss Helen.

“I most certainly am not.”

“You most certainly are. If it weren’t for you, I’d be havin’ to close all my bank accounts and credit cards.”

“You don’t know the first thing about carin’ for someone.”

“Well who better to teach me than you?”

Sam looked between the two determined faces. “She’s got a point, Miss Grace.”

“Humph.”

“Good. It’s settled then,” declared Miss Helen.

“I’ll drive you over myself and set you up,” added Sam.

Miss Grace stared them down. “Miss Helen, you have never had to serve anybody in your whole life.”

Miss Helen was silent for so long that Sam was worried she might be having an episode. Then she shocked them both as tears began to run down her cheeks.

“I can’t help how I grew up any more than you can. But I had a curious dream last night. Jesus was there. And I was on my knees washing a long row of black women’s feet. So you might as well be the first one.”

Miss Grace was shaken, but not moved. “I will not have you or anyone else serve me.”

Doctor Sam folded his arms and leaned on the door jam. “Grandma, there are two sides to pride. You taught me that. Seems to me that if Miss Helen is wanting to lay hers down, maybe you could help her out a little by doing the same.”

“Humph. Whose side are you on?” replied Miss Grace. But her eyes were moist with tears of pride as she looked at the doctor, but saw the boy she had raised while her daughter worked and took night classes.

Sam smiled at his grandmother. “I’ll go fetch the car.”


©2020 Lydia D Crouch

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