Fiction Fragment Friday
This week’s fiction fragment Friday is special. As of this story I have been doing these for one year. That is a big milestone for me and I’m proud to have reached it. I figured I would share some stats from that time.
- 51 Total Stories with only one week being missed.
- Over 40,000 words across all stories.
- Three settings with multiple stories
I have gone through success and loss during this time. This process started when my father’s health issues gave me a reality check and motivated me to start doing something with the time I have. The first year has been about building a catalog of material on this site and pushing myself to make writing a regular part of my week. It has accomplished that.
My goals for this next year will be a bit more lofty.
- Start submitting stories again to try and get further publishing.
- Edit and self-published my Ricochet novel.
- Write another novel during NaNoWriMo.
- Continue Fiction Fragment Friday without missing a week.
“Jenni dear, what a pleasant surprise. Come in.” The old woman had a genuine smile on her face that extended all the way to her eyes.
“Hi, grandma.” Jenni held up a tiny paper bag. “I just got back from China, and I have your favorite tea.”
The old woman reached up and took the bag glancing in it. “Oh this is so wonderful.” She pointed a finger to the couch. “Go ahead and sit down while I make this. I want to hear all about your trip.” Jenni moved to the couch and stretched out while her grandmother shuffled off to the kitchen. She looked around the room at all the pictures on the wall of her grandmother’s own travels. The constant need to see and experience anything was definitely a trait that she had inherited from her.
“Grandma how many times did you go to China?”
The older woman came back into the room with two steaming mugs of tea. She handed one to Jenni and then sat down in her worn comfy chair. “Oh dear, it is hard to keep track. Let’s see I went to Hong Kong twice, I’ve seen the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and the Three Gorges. So at least five times.” She took a sip of the tea and let out a contented sigh.
Jenni took a sip of her own mug. “That is so amazing. I bet you have so many stories from your travels.”
“Oh I do dear. I’ve met so many interesting people and seen so many sites in my time. It’s never quite enough though. You always find yourself wishing you had just a little more time.”
“Yeah, I can see that. When I left it felt like I had just gotten there.”
“You remind me so much of myself at your age Jenni. I really wonder sometimes how your father turned out the way he did.”
“Don’t tell me you two are still fighting.”
“Of course, not dear. We’d have to be talking to fight.”
“Grandma!” She stretched the word out and there was a whining inflection to her tone. “You need to call him.”
“No, I don’t. He has never forgiven me for remarrying after his father died and I can’t forgive him for the way he treated your mother. She is a good woman, and she deserved more respect. I raised him better than that.”
“I’m not going to give up on you two, but I’ll let it go for now. No need to ruin the whole visit with family drama when I have a vacation to talk about.”
“I wholeheartedly agree.” She sat the mug down on top of a saucer on the coffee table. “Now tell me everything.”
The conversation went on into the night and it was midnight before Jenni finally headed home. She was so tired when she got home that she just collapsed in bed without checking any of her messages. Since getting back into the country her phone had synced and there were 23 new voice mails and more texts than she cared to count. She had not adjusted back to her home time zone well and it showed the next morning when she found herself rushing to avoid being late for work. Once she was in the office, she had two weeks’ worth of piled up work waiting for her. Every time she looked at her phone the number of messages made her feel overwhelmed, so she put it off a little longer.
“Grandma with all your travel how did you adjust to time differences?” Jenni had gone from work straight over to her grandmother’s house for dinner.
“Oh you get used to it, or at-least you get used to not getting used to it.” She chuckled a bit. “Something I learned from the Europeans is take naps when you are tired. That can really help you get through the day.”
“That’s kind of hard to do in an office.”
“I suppose it would be. As a writer that was never a problem of mine. I spent more time worrying about what male pen name I was going to use to get my books published. It was a different time back then you know. My agent couldn’t get my manuscript on a publisher’s desk if they didn’t think I was a man.”
Jenni shook her head in disgust. “I don’t know how you put up with it.”
“Because it was more important to me that people read my work than know who I was. It’s all about priorities dear and what is truly important to you. Sure, it bothered me that none of my books had my own name for years, but they were being enjoyed and I was being paid.”
“Tell me about Grandpa. Dad always talks about him, but he died when I was too young to remember.”
“Gerald was a wonderful man. He was far from perfect though and had plenty of faults. Your father puts him up on a pedestal and remembers him only through the tinted lenses of love. That’s where he gets his pigheadedness from. When Gerald decided he was right about something no amount of arguing or evidence would ever change his mind. Your father is the exact same way. Why when he was a boy…” The night went one with Jenni’s grandmother telling her story after story about her father and grandfather. When she finally left to head home, she felt like she understood her family much better than when she had arrived. As much as she had been pressuring her grandmother to make up with her father, she herself had not spoken to him in over a month. He had not supported her decision to take a job at the law-firm that he represented her mother in the divorce. He felt like she had betrayed him, and not having his support hurt her in ways she didn’t want to admit.
Jenni went to her grandmother’s house each night that week. They shared tea and stories. Jenni would tell her grandmother about work and the few trips she had taken. When she finished grandma would share stories of the family. It made Jenni feel closer to her family than she had felt since her parent’s divorce and she cherished the feeling. She was starting to understand herself more through the stories as well. She saw herself in her grandmother, father, and even learned a few things about her own mother. Finally on the fourth night she got up the courage to listen to her messages. She started with her friends, but finally hit play on the first message from her father.
“Hi Jenni, it’s dad. Give me a call when you get this, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.” She started to get worried as she hit the next message. “Hey Jenni, it’s dad again. I don’t know if you are screening your calls or what, but I really need to talk to you. It’s about your grandmother.” She hit the last message from a week ago. “Jenni, I didn’t want to do this on a message, but you aren’t giving me any choice. Your grandmother had a heart attack. She passed away in her sleep. I’ll text you the funeral arrangements.” Jenni switched over to her text messages and found not just details, but a link to her grandmother’s obituary on the funeral home website. The funeral was the day before she came home from China.
Confused she left work early to head to her grandmother’s house. Jenni had her own key and let herself into the house. It was quieter than she could ever remember. As she wandered from room to room she found boxes everywhere with her grandmother’s personal items. Some were labeled to donate, but others had the names of family members. One box had her name on it. Jenni nervously sat down and opened the box. Inside were collections of photographs from her grandmothers’ travels, a travel journal, and various trinkets she had always liked as a kid. She felt the tear run down her cheek.
“I hope I picked the right things for you.” Jenni was startled by the sound of her dad’s voice from the door. She rushed to him and hugged him tightly. The tears turned to sobs as he patted her back. “There, there baby. I’m so sorry. I know you two were close.”
In her head she heard the words her grandma had spoken again with new light. “You always find yourself wishing you had just a little more time.”
Jenni looked up at her father’s face and could see the pain in it. He didn’t want to admit how much he was hurting. “You feel guilty for not patching things up, don’t you?”
He fought to keep control of his expressions. “You always think you have more time. That you can fix things later. Remember this baby-girl, you don’t always have a later.”
Jenni pulled away and went into the kitchen. The plain paper bag of tea was still on the counter and when she opened it, she found that only enough was gone for the portions she had drunk. She got to work and soon walked back into the living room with two mugs of steaming tea. She handed him a mug and sat down on the chair. He sat on the couch in her grandmother’s spot. “Ok dad, I think we have some things we need to talk about.”