September 13, 2017

Flash Fiction by Robert L. Penick: "Grandmother, Coney Island Bus Line, July 27th, 1992"

My work has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and Plainsongs.  I live in Louisville, KY, USA, with my free-range box turtle, Sheldon, and edit Ristau, a tiny literary annual.  More of my writing can be found at www.theartofmercy.net  









Grandmother, Coney Island Bus Line,

July 27th, 1992


It’s so pretty, the signs and the pennants, the rollercoaster cutting into the blue, sending arms
and legs and voices into the clouds.  From the top of the Ferris wheel, each rider gets a penthouse view of the world, at least for a long moment.  And the smiles!  The scent of frying sausage and incurably sweet cotton candy fly soundless through the air to the B68 bus.  Years ago, with the windows open, you could hear the hum of diversion.  No matter. It is all locked away tight in your head:  The summer visits to the midway, days on the beach, the boy who became your husband.


    It would be nice to go back, to walk past the vendors and the games, to hear the laughter, see the smiles.  Couples holding hands and knowing no power on Earth will ever separate them.  The glory of love and Sam Cooke singing from a loudspeaker somewhere above.  But you can’t go back.  There is no way to rewind the tape, to set the needle back into an earlier groove and become young again.  There is no spot in life for regret and no path on the boardwalk for an elderly widow with stainless steel hips and palsied hands.
    The orthopedic surgeon moved your appointment up to accommodate his trip to Hydra.  He wants to assess your knee before leaving.  It takes a lot of knee replacements to finance a vacation on the other side of the Earth.  If you were younger, you’d go to Florida, soak up the sun, find a way to refuel.  No matter.  It is summer.  And don’t the children look happy?

© Robert L. Penick

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