Another Flash Fiction Friday, and another week of struggling to find something inspiring. However, I did find something at this particular Tumblr blog, Nightlight Writing.
Prompt: The icepack might help more if it was on the right side.
My sister, Sally, and I are sitting inside of my bay window. We both have severe allergies, so in the early Spring we have to stay inside while the kids play football outside. Connor is always energetic, the perfect father and uncle for a bunch athletic little buggers. Sally’s boys are both on their junior varsity football teams at the high school, and our son is on his eighth grade team as the starting quarterback. Of course, our daughter is a cheerleader on top of that, so even she plays with them. Connor pretends that he doesn’t treat her any different when they play, but Sally always points out that he tackles her less often.
“She is just so damn flippy,” He proclaims, asserting that she can pull off crazy saves. He’s such a good dad.
I offer to grab some tea. We love raspberry tea, and have been drinking it since we were just little girls playing dress up in momma’s pretty work shoes. Once she accepts I saunter out to the kitchen, having already brewed some before she came to town for a visit. I start pulling glasses from the cupboard when I hear the front door open. There doesn’t seem to be much commotion so I keep going about my business.
It’s probably just one of the kids coming in for a pee, they always have to pee.
“Kay!” My sister’s voice is so soft that I almost don’t even hear her. When I return to the living room with two cups of delicious raspberry tea, chilled is the best way to drink it, I see that Connor is sitting awkwardly in the recliner. Asking seems a waste of my breath but I know I have to ask.
“Throw your back out?” Connor has had this happen a couple of other times over the last year or so, but he apparently ‘forgets’ to tell his doctor about it. Instead, he just visits a chiropractor every six weeks. He’s going to regret his cheap fixes, we all will, but he’s a grown man and I can only make him do so much when he’s being stubborn.
Sally nods for him because he can’t stop hissing. Glasses are placed delicately on the window sill, careful to tilt them slight outwards against the screen in case they get knocked over. Immediately I drag myself back into the kitchen to retrieve and icepack. It won’t do much good for him but he’s in a lot of pain so it’s better than nothing.
The kids start filing in to check on Connor, the eldest boys offering to help him get to the bedroom. His response is in the early stages of protest, assuring that he can still play, but I intervene – “Please, if you could.”
Nearly fifteen minutes later, the “Connor Squad” gets my husband up the stairs and into bed. Everyone complained through the whole process, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that it was slightly amusing. With the football activities being put at a standstill, Sally offers to take all the kids out for lunch. Immediately everyone scatters to get shoes and change shirts leaving me to quietly thank her for taking everyone out.
“The benefits of having a doctor for a husband. You can always afford to take the kids out for a surprise lunch.” After a quick cheek kiss I jog up the stairs with the icepack still firmly in hand. As I round the corner I see that my husband is trying desperately to reach for the phone, rocking side-to-side desperately. The volume of my chuckle gives away my presence.
He doesn’t want me bothering him or pampering him, he just wants to call his chiropractor to see if she’d be willing to drive by the house after work. I shake my head at him before taking a seat near his feet. Per the usual, I’m lecturing him about his decisions – reminding him that he’s thirty-eight now and not as sturdy as he used was ten years ago. Connor hates being reminded that he’s an “old” dad. He wasn’t an “old” dad for Kendra, but she was a girl and it wouldn’t have mattered.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are as long as you take care of yourself then you can do what good dads do all the time.” I comfort him this way quite often. Good dads are dads that are there for their kids when they are needed. Damon could care less if his dad plays football with him everyday Saturday afternoon, as long as his dad was there to support him and encourage him. The love is what matters.
I place the icepack over his shirt right beneath his hand. Connor gurgles in response, wiggles, and then shoves it off of him. Before I can place it on him again, he bites at me: “The icepack might help more if it’s on the right side, yeah?” He uses his left hand to point to the spot that hurts most. The whole scene was misleading because he was holding onto his right hip, but apparently that was because the left side hurt too much to touch. As I roll my eyes I rest the icepack exactly where he’s instructed before leaving the room.
“I won’t give up football. If I give up football I’m admitting that I can’t physically play anymore.” He concludes as I go, shouting so that he knows I heard him. Whatever he has to say to make himself feel better. I know the truth, though. He is stressed that his age is showing. It is all a part of getting older. Connor will have to come to terms with it soon enough. Hopefully his midlife crises is something productive, like coaching or something.
When I pick up the glasses of tea left in the windows, I pivot again to retrace the path I just took back to the bedroom. Thankfully, Connor loves raspberry tea just as much as my sister.