Short Stories

The Questionable Presence of Michael.

Hearing a knock at the door, Rebecca pushed herself forward and pressed mute on the remote. Easing herself off the sofa she paused for a moment as she caught her breath; she hadn’t moved around much since she’d retired and it was clear her body was used to it. She slowly made her way to the door and reached for the handle, keeping the safety chain at the end of it’s channel in the safest position, of course. Nobody stood at the other side of the door when she opened it. Of course, she had taken a little longer than she would have liked to have taken to get to the door which made her wonder if whoever had knocked had really needed her attention.

Tutting, she turned to head back to finish watching what she had thought was a rather underwhelming episode of Antiques Roadshow, when a man appeared coming out of her bathroom. He smiled and explained that all the boiler needed was a new temperature gauge. Every part of her body froze in fear as she stared at him; she had never seen this man before and had certainly not allowed him entry into her home. Rebecca mustered the anger now building inside of her and coughed out enough words to demand that he tell her who he is and why he was in her house. Grinning sympathetically, the man reached to take her by the arm but she refused, still shaking with confusion and fear; she feared this stranger may do damage if she allowed him to touch her. Rebecca asked once more who he was, and he replied with perhaps the most chilling response.

“Abba, it’s me, Michael, your Grandson. Now don’t tell me you’ve forgotten me too. Do you not remember me coming in a few moments ago?”

She didn’t know this man, and he certainly was not her Grandson; Michael was a boy, not a boiler-fixing adult! Owing to her age she had certainly began to question her memory, but it had never gotten so bad that she had forgotten her own Grandson. New to her, this man informed her that he was her Grandson and he’d moved into the house next door to take care of her as she was becoming forgetful; it was apparently her idea. Help had certainly been needed lately, but she would have remembered arranging it, and would certainly remember her Grandson growing up; wouldn’t she? Eager to get this stranger out of her house, she protested once more. She insisted that he leave her alone and threatened to call the Police.

“Trust me, Abba, it’s me Michael. Only yesterday you were telling me how big I was and how I would have been a great piano player if I’d kept up the practise!”

Leaping across her brain was a flash of memory; she had taught Michael piano. Every Sunday he had visited with his parents and she’d sat him down and taught him Old Macdonald and Chopsticks on her old Baby Grand piano. Her heart slowed somewhat with this memory; she was beginning to trust the strange man a little more than before. Eased; Michael took her by the arm and helped her into the living room where he sat her down and offered to make her some tea. Rebecca refused as she was still reluctant and confused; this man could still be a stranger to her and she didn’t want to risk him poisoning her. Poison was the furthest thing from her mind this morning when she was enjoying her daytime television.

“Understanding, I guess, is a little difficult right now”, Michael said.

Rebecca nodded and breathed deeply. She asked him to talk more about their relationship to show her that she could trust him; he obliged. Earlier that year, he informed her, they’d taken a trip with his Mother, her daughter, to the Lake District. Tales of past shared experiences followed that caused various flashes of memory across Rebecca’s mind. He smiled at her. Earlier that day she’d been happy, but now the confusion bothered her. Laying her head back slightly to calm the throbbing in the back of her head she exhaled and acknowledged that she could be wrong; this man could be Michael.

“I had better go”, Michael spoke to break the silence. Tea was offered once more and Rebecca felt comfortable enough to take him up on his offer. Tea was comforting, and that was what she needed; she was still confused but was willing to accept the uncomfortable truth that she could be losing her memory, after all she was old enough!

Leaving the cup and a couple of biscuits on the side table by where Rebecca sat, Michael leant over and kissed her on the forehead. Easing warmth rushed over her at this point and she could feel the familiar maternal connection that she loved; he really was Michael, she knew it. She asked him if he would come back the next day to check in on her. He agreed and told her that he’d be fitting the new temperature gauge anyway; she’d forgotten all about the boiler.

In moments she was left alone once again. Turning the television’s volume up, she continued watching; she was certainly unsettled by today’s events, but she took comfort knowing that her Grandson only lived next door.

Gregory Lawrence.

(P.S. Fun fact. This story is also an acrostic. Take the first letter of each sentence to continue the story – you might want to write them down!)

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