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Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #2128339
Flash fiction. A bittersweet story about life's precious moments.

“Jack, could you keep an eye on your granddaughter while I grab her PJs?”

Without waiting for a reply, I found my arms filled with a moist ball of squirming energy we all knew as Abigail Jasmine McCoy, or to us, simply Abby.

Fresh out of the bath, her mat of dark hair curled around her cherubic face as she did her best to wriggle free. At just over a year old, she was an eager walker looking to get her fingers into everything; keeping her corralled was a full-time effort.

My wife, Sheryl, ducked into the guest room to search Abby's diaperbag for a pair of pajamas. Then the real work began. I’d forgotten how difficult getting a fresh out of the tub baby into footie PJs could be.

Finally, with Abby propped on one hip, Sheryl disappeared into the kitchen only to return moments later with a bottle in her hand. Abby considered me with a tired yawn and a dramatic rub of the eyes.

“I think someone’s ready for bed,” Sheryl announced.

I cast a longing glance to the TV. “But Sports Line is coming on,” I told her. “I want to see if the Cardinals drafted that kid from Notre Dame.”

“All that can wait.” She arched her brow in the way that brooked no argument. “Besides, before you know it, she’ll be too big to snuggle.”

Taking Abby in my arms, I strolled into the guest room. My daughter and her husband set up a playpen for Abby's bed and Sheryl had me move in the old rocker for their visit. With a resigned sigh, I dropped into the seat and maneuvered Abby into the crook of my arm. She fit like a missing puzzle piece. Funny how soon you forget what it’s like holding a baby. They fill the gap over your heart as if they were meant to be there.

Our guest room window looks out over Sheryl’s rose garden, the one I planted in 2010. I’d put in a birdbath and Japanese maple, almost breaking my back on those damn landscaping stones she insisted upon. In peering onto that picturesque scene with Abby’s warm body nestled into mine, all the effort was paid in that one soft moment.

Looking down, I was lost in Abby’s hungry dark eyes, her tiny smile creeping along the edges of the bottle’s nipple.

“Shh, shh, shh. Go to sleep. Shh, shh, shh.”

If there are perfect moments in life, I guessed this to be one. Gazing into Abby’s eyes, I considered the nature of love. Beneath the sterile lens of science, I’d heard it defined as the complex interaction of neurochemicals and genetic bias. But as Abby’s lids fluttered, her blinks longer and heavier I knew with certainty that wasn’t true. Love is an element beyond self, substantial and real. Something as tangible as a cool spring rain or snowflakes on an icy December night.

“Shh, shh, shh. Little one. Shh, shh, shh.”

Could a perfect moment be caught? Pinned between the glass of my mind like a butterfly? Taken out and examined whenever the darkness thickens. The crimson of Sheryl’s roses, the purple maple leaves trembling in the breeze. The babe in my arms, soft and sweet, peering up with innocent shuttered eyes.

“Shh, shh, shh. Little one. Shh, shh, shh.”

I decided a moment could be captured, so I took out a pin and pressed it in.


The young woman stepped from beneath the icy blue glare of hospital lights and into the warm glow of a cool October dawn. She pulled out her phone and dialed her sister, Ashley.

“Pawpaw died," she said. "He went peacefully.”

Her sister lived on the coast and Abby knew it was impossible for her to leave her job, yet she felt a twinge of resentment at Ashley not being here for grandfather’s final moments.

“Did he say anything before he went?” Ashley asked.

Abigail shook her head and dropped onto a bench beside the door. “I don’t think he was all there.” Fat tears rolled from her hungry dark eyes. “He just kept saying, shh, shh, shh -- shh, shh, shh."

© Copyright 2017 John Yossarian (jdosser at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2128339