Short Story
Inspired By: “For A Dream”
Artist: Tracy Chapman

A large yellow house sits off the road. The paint is a faded — beaten by rain and time. A large porch wraps the front of the home.

Potted flowers clutter the entryway. Some hang while others cover the steps at the front of the country home. A large white decorative door draws the eye from the plants.

Gail and Ernest sit on the porch in matching rocking chairs. They are in their mid-eighties. With dark skin and brilliant white hair.

Gail sighs deeply, “The seasons are changing. It’s not even eight o’clock yet and it’s getting dark already. Winter is on the way.”

“It’s August the thirteenth,“ Ernest replies skeptically.

“It’ll be Christmas before you know it,” Gail insists. “I was in Hobby Lobby the other day and they had Christmas stuff up.”

“They always have their Christmas stuff up,” Ernest chides. His eyes focused on the street, “It’s up all year round.”

“Are you sure?” Gail glances over at him.

“Yup,” he replies without reservation.

“You know this is the best time to buy Christmas gifts?” Gail adds.

“No, I didn’t know that,” replies Ernest.

“Stores bring last seasons stuff out on clearance and summer stuff is marked down too,” Gail explains.

“Great, I can get Karen a swimming suit and a pair of mittens for Christmas,” Ernest chuckles.

“Ha!” Gail laughs

Suddenly she gets up from her chair, “She brought over some Biscotti cookie things.” She says disappearing into the house.

“What is it?” Ernest calls after her.

Gail returns with a red box in hand. “Cookies,” she says while opening the lavish red container.

“No, thanks,” Ernest says quickly.

“They’re good,” Gail says as she takes a bite of one.

“I’ll take your word for it,” Ernest replies.

“Here try one,” Gail says offering him one to taste.

Ernest looks at the cookie, his lips curling. “If I want a cookie, I’ll have a plain ole chocolate chip,” he argues. “You know I don’t like Karen’s fancy food.”

“She’s got style, Ernest.” Gail returns to her rocking chair.

“Expensive style,” Ernest breathes.

“Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm,” Gail enjoys another cookie while lightly rocking back and forth.

“You think she’s gonna marry that boy?” she asks.

“I don’t think he wants to marry her,” Ernest says flatly.

“Why do you say that?” Gail asks.

“He hasn’t asked her,” he says.

“He could just be preparing,” she says.

Ernest looks at Gail in disbelief. “Preparing for what? How long they been together?” he asks.

“I think about five years or so,” replies Gail.

“Exactly. She’s too much work,” he says.

“I think it was five years because we met him at Trina’s big party and that was five years ago. But they may have been dating even longer than that. You know you usually date someone for a while before you introduce them to your family.” Gail explains.

A black sports car blaring rap music flies past the house and continues down the road. Gail pops another piece of a cookie in her mouth.

“I do like these cookies,” she says between bites. “It’s such a beautiful day.”

“Can you get me a soda?” asks Ernest.

“A soda? I’ll get you some water,” counters Gail.

“I don’t want water. I want one of them grape sodas in there,” Ernest argues.

“Forget it. I’ll get it.” He says getting up.

“No, you don’t need it. It’s full of sugar,” Gail offers.

“There’s sugar in them cookies you were trying to give me,” he says heading into the house.

“The grape soda is for when the little ones come over,” cries Gail.

Ernest returns with two grape sodas. He hands one to Gail and sits back down in his chair.

He opens the can and takes a sip, “Aaaah.”

“Guess I could try a little bit of it,” Gail utters eyeing the aluminum can. Gail soon swallows a mouthful of purple fizz.

“It’s strong,” she says.

“It’s good,” he adds.

The pair sits quietly on the massive porch, both drinking their grape soda, Gail nibbling on cookies.

A gray sedan pulls quietly into the driveway.

“She’s here already?” questions Ernest.

“She said she was gonna be here around eight,” answers Gail. “It’s almost eight.”

Ernest lets out a deep sigh.

“Here take this drink,” he says thrusting the purple can toward Gail. She takes it and quickly sets it down beside her chair on the porch.

Karen emerges from the gray sedan. She is a beautiful woman in her late forties.

“Hey Daddy,” Karen says. Smile wide as all outdoors.

“Hey Baby,” Ernest replies.

“Hey Aunt Kitty,” Karen walks up the porch towards Gail and gives her a hug.

“How you doing, Sweetie?” Gail asks.

Karen walks behind Ernest’s chair and puts her hands on his shoulders. “Great,” she answers jovially.

“Daddy, you ready to go?” She asks Ernest.

“You don’t wanna sit for a while, Dear?” Gail inquires.

“No, I can’t. Gotta get the kids ready for school tomorrow,” Gail responds apologetically.

“Yeah, I guess,” Ernest mumbles. He stands and slowly descends the front steps.

“Bye, Honey,” says Gail. She and Karen embrace.

“Bye Aunt Kitty,” replies Karen. She then hops down the stairs toward the car.

“Take care of your father.” cries Gail.

“I will,” smiles Karen.

“Bye old man,” Gail exclaims playfully.

“Bye old woman,” replies Ernest.

Gail sits down and begins rocking her chair.

She pops another cookie in her mouth.

The gray sedan retreats as quietly as it came.

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