His Path

 

science fiction, fantasy, flash fiction

Written in response to D.W. Peach’s March Speculative Fiction Prompt

The rain falls so hard the trees appear to be weeping. I stand on the steep sidewalk waiting for the school bus, hair frizzing into tight curls but mouth curled up in a sweet grandmotherly smile.

My grandson turns seven today, and I’m determined to help him celebrate.

Of my six grandchildren, Steven is the most enigmatic; at times, full of energy and light, other times quiet and introspective. He seems to know something that no one else does.

Finally, the school bus brakes in front of me like a yellow submarine. Steven climbs down the five steps hesitantly, but when his eyes find mine, his smile radiates a bright glow.

“Grammy!” he shouts, backpack slapping behind him as he races toward my arms. We hug and then approach my new car.

“A mini-cooper,” Steven observes with a subdued tone in his voice.

“Isn’t it cute?” I crow as I crawl into the driver’s seat of the mint green toy.

As Steven snaps on his seat belt he says, “Uh huh. Mini-coopers are for old people.”

Damn the boy. “Can’t be,” I snap back. “Since I’m not old.”

“Welllll.” Steven is one of those kids who hasn’t learned to lie, or even smudge the truth.

I ignore him and suggest, “Shall we go to the Sweet Shop and get cupcakes to celebrate your birthday?” This is a routine I’ve established with each of his brothers, who devour cupcakes as if they’re M & M’s.

“No. Ice cream,” Steven suggests. If a suggestion sounds like a wistful demand.

The car’s windshield wipers can’t keep up with the rain. My soaked sneakers slip on the accelerator as my shoulders shiver underneath my wet jacket. “Maybe it’s bit chilly for ice cream today?”

Steven stares at me through the rear view mirror. “Ice cream is for special days,” he intones. “Today is ordained to be special.”

Like I said, a puzzling child.speculative fiction, ice cream cone

After I park the car, we skip through deep puddles to reach the tiny ice cream shop, which, not surprisingly, is empty of patrons. We sit on a small bench and watch the rain drip down the shop’s glass door as Steven inhales his birthday cone.

“I can’t wait to be as old as you,” he muses, licking some raspberry liquid off his fingers.

“First, I’m not old yet. Second, why?” I ask, not giving up my own fiction of youth, yet wondering why he’s ready to disown his.

“When I’m old, I don’t have to listen to anyone else, I don’t have to go to school, and I can follow my own path.”

The first two reasons sound like a 7-year-old, but the last one doesn’t. “What’s your path?”

Steven points outside with a sticky ice-creamed finger.

I gasp. The clouds have dissipated, and in front of us we can see the city clearly, even though it’s at least 25 miles away. The moon, or perhaps I should say, ‘a moon,’ floats in front of the sun, adding an eerie glow to the remains of the day. “Eclipse?!” I whisper. None has been forecast.

“My path,” Steven states in a voice so still and sure my heart lurches. He kisses me on the cheek, throws the end of his cone in the trash, and sprints out the door, down the wet alley, toward his unknown.

I race after him.

science fiction, fantasy, flash fiction

Image by Natan Vance from Pixabay.

 

136 thoughts on “His Path

    • Steven in this speculative story is kind of an amalgam of all of my young grandsons, Brigid. And I used a bit of my own fantasy, because I’ve always wanted to get a mini-cooper, but so far haven’t. Not great in the snows of New England. ;-0

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was so excited to see your story this morning, Pam. What a wonderful peek into our grandchildren’s uncharted futures. We can run after them, but they will eventually outpace us and find their own paths. And I love the play on “young/old.” Thank you, my friend, for playing! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • You hit the nail on the head, Jacqui (to use a much too used cliché…). I didn’t realize it until I read your comment. There’s more truth than fiction in this “speculative” piece. Ah, how the muse likes to play tricks on us!

      Like

  2. I loved reading this. Allowing each child to find their own path is a goal to aspire toward but for the child to realize they have their own says they still have their connection to where they came from. He’s going to be one to watch. What a wonderful experience this is going to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting perspective, Marlene. I think the best thing about this story of speculative fiction is the different ideas readers have gleaned from it. “Steven” is an amalgam of my grandsons, but perhaps he’s also a symbol of me, and of you, too. Some of us realize we need to follow a strange-looking path that we recognize from somewhere in our “insides.” Old souls, indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Six grandchildren!! How incredible. Must be interesting watching them all grow and observing their different personalities.

    I really love how your story takes one interaction/conversation within a relationship and lets it slowly unfold… making the reader wonder what’s coming next. Eager for more….

    A mini cooper!! My first boyfriend when I was 19 had one of those, so I can attest to the fact that they aren’t for “old people”… But of course when you are 7, anyone over the age of 10 is probably old. It is all relative isn’t it?

    So enjoyed this one…. Brought back lots of memories of when my three were little.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the intertwined comments here, Peta. I kind of combined the personalities of my five grandsons (all under the age of 9) here – my granddaughter is another fish entirely. 🙂 The conversation in this story though is almost verbatim from my 7-year-old grandson on the day my guy and I took him out for his birthday. We had a rental, not a mini-cooper, but when we passed one on the street, he made his astute (from a child’s perspective) comment. Somehow it all seemed to interlink when I saw Diana’s photo prompt. :-0 ❤

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  4. Your imprint clearly show on your grandson’s wish to follow his own “path.” Supremely well-told story. Every word evoked vivid images. 🙂

    My trivia-prone mind even recalled Charlize Theron speeding around in her Mini Cooper in The Italian Job (2003). Remember?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha. Yes, the Mini Cooper was quite cool in The Italian Job. I always wanted one, and my guy and I tested one out a few years ago when we lived in CA. Very fun, but a bit too tiny (in his mind) and too crushable in the busy highways. So, in this story, it’s my magical way of thinking that I pick up Steven (not his real name) in a mini-cooper. In reality, we were in a rental car, but our grandson did indeed make that comment about mini-coopers. Old people? Hmmm, perhaps someone over the age of 15?? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the subtle message of this heart-warming story Pam. I could connect with the innocence and the truthful answers of Steven, an adorable boy with a loving heart. I wish the love of grandchildren and their hugs remain the same…forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your story is so beautiful and deep. That is one wonderful meeting by
    the school bus and one senses who is going to lead in this
    tale. He gets you to the ice-cream shop in the cold and rain, he enchants you
    and then with his last comment silence us all.

    I was glad to see that you raced after Pamela.

    miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for entering my speculative (yet all so real) universe here with me, Miriam. It’s interesting to me how so many adults dismiss children and their fantasies, when in reality, a child’s fantasy and perspective on life can lead us to some amazing places….

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  7. A beautiful story that oozes of grandmotherly proud and probably a bit of awe. He sounds like a wise child filled with all kinds of ideas and someone who will aspire to high goals.

    Mini Coopers are so dang cute and I see quite a few in my town, with population of about115,000, in central Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mini Coopers are great for states like TX and CA. New England? Not so much with our snow and ice. But this was speculative fiction, so I can drive a Mini Cooper. 🙂 But the speculations of children and their deep insight to things unseen – that I shall never take for granted. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If he said “ordained,” that’s already special for a seven-year-old. And then: “follow my own path.” He’s a boy who thinks for himself. He seems to have big plans for his future and the gumption to achieve them.

    Ice cream and cupcakes are both tempting. He didn’t have trouble making his choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With six grandchildren, I have the distinct pleasure of noting the distinctness of each. This story is speculative, and yet, it’s so real in the depiction of a child’s certainly of his path, and where he wishes to go. I’m in awe of that ability in young children.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Grandchildren are fun because you don’t need to correct them, or worry about them in the same way a parent does. Thus, allowing them to have ice cream on a cold rainy day, and to dash off toward an unknown path, is more pleasure than angst. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Such a good point, Debra. I think we all were insightful and observant when we were kids. Somehow we lose that when we become “grown up.” Isn’t that sad? Thus, I think we adults should listen to children more carefully than we usually do. ❤

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  9. What a great story, Pam. I wonder will Grammy catch Steven. Will he allow her on his path? Funny how children up to that age show obvious signs of wisdom, of having been here before. Many seem to lose it after that. I think it gets unbelieved out of them. Good thing Steven has Grammy to believe in him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just wrote a comment on that fact, Norah. Exactly. You, as a person so connected with children, see how insightful/wise they can be, and then, adolescence happens, and somehow they lose that ability. Is it because it gets “unbelieved” out of them? Probably so. Thus, fantasy and speculative fiction should be encouraged with children’s reading perhaps into their teenage years and beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Fiction or non-fiction or a bit of both? I love when children speak from edges of our world. Our Christopher used to do this all the time. At one point he went into a trance and told me the meaning of my life and what I should be realizing at this point. Then he shook his head and said, “But I’m too young to know this” and went back to being a kid. Another time he traveled up to the stars. Now, dear me, he’s got a scientific rational mind and won’t hear any “nonsense”. Interesting to see what happens to your grandson (and my son) as they age…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Kathy, what our children (and/or grandchildren) can teach us. And yes, we should grab their insight when we can, because unfortunately when that magic stops – by adolescence? – so does the deep-down wisdom. “Reality” grabs hold of them. Bummer, huh? As far as my speculative fiction here, turns out that most of it is true! Interesting – many times when I write non-fiction it turns out to be fantasy, and now when I write fantasy, it turns out to be reality. Perhaps that’s a good sign….? ;-0

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pam, I have shivers reading this … wonderful! Love the merging of fact (your grandsons) with fiction. A wise young man and don’t we all want to find that path to follow our lives! Maybe it just doesn’t need to be so dramatic – or perhaps this is how it would feel!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps this is how it SHOULD feel when we find our path, Annika! It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve finally found a writing path that seems right, down to the bottom of my soles and up to the tippy top of my head. I think your path is the same…. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My creative friend what a wonderful story you’ve spun. It’s always such a pleasure to read your creative writing. Thank you for taking me with you on this birthday journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: His Path – #writingprompt | Myths of the Mirror

  14. Pingback: March Speculative Fiction Round-Up | Myths of the Mirror

    • Children aren’t given enough credit for the natural insights they have. That’s why I love children’s books that don’t “spell out” things for them, but let’s them use their imagination as they read a story. ❤

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    • Haha. “Smudge the truth” is more descriptive than “fibbing” or “not quite telling the truth,” isn’t it Harula? Thanks for coming over here to read my speculative fiction. And you’re right, there’s lots of reality here. ❤

      Like

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