This is a short story written in response to the one-word prompt “treat.”
Ronald was in the parlor reading a new book his granddaughter had recommended – not that he wanted to read anything that wasn’t a western, and not that he’d admit that he was enjoying the funny and well-written book he was holding – when the doorbell rang. Disgruntled and annoyed at the interruption, he slowly made his way to the front door. His left knee had been giving him trouble for some time now and it hurt to walk. So much for the acupuncture his wife had got on him about. Before.
He let out a pent-up sigh and opened the door just enough to see who it was. Damn mailman always ringing the doorbell instead of just leaving the mail in the extra large mailbox he’d bought for this exact reason.
He opened the door all the way, grunted a thank you to the mailman while taking the package, and quickly shut the door in the man’s face. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of that incompetent man staring flabbergasted at the door as it almost hit him. Maybe he was getting too mean in his old age. He didn’t care.
He limped at almost snail-like speed back to the parlor. He sat down and let out a sigh of relief as the pain in his knee lessened with the pressure off of it.
Ronald set the package on the side table next to him. He’d get to it later. Probably just some well-meaning but intrusive gift from a distant relative to show they care or at the very least don’t not care.
He picked up the book he’d been reading, and was about to resume where he’d left off when a name on the package caught his eye. Cassidy Montgomery. His lips involuntarily twisted into a smile. What was his granddaughter up to now? Sending him the sequel to this crappy book?
He set the book back on the end table and took the package instead. He opened it, cursing whoever had taped the damned thing shut because it made opening the package without a knife, scissors, or grenade almost impossible. Once he’d managed to tear the tape off and open the package, he noticed a small red envelope with “Grandpa” written on it. He loved being a grandpa. He had two grandsons and four granddaughters, all whom he loved more than he could say. But he felt a connection with Cassidy most. They got each other. Ronald liked her tenacity and ability to get what she wants and that she isn’t ashamed to be who she is – a quiet, contemplative young woman who loves to read and write but who speaks her mind when she is passionate about something, and she isn’t afraid to try new things in life. She travels, writes a column for a magazine, and sings aloud in her car even if her windows are down and other people can hear her. He’d begged her to stop once, told her that his ears were bleeding, but she wouldn’t stop. He loved that she knew when he was teasing her and that she only sang louder and more off-key when he did.
Shaking his head and smiling incessantly at the memory, he opened the small card inside the red envelope.
I know it’s hard right now without her. I miss her too. She meant the world to you, and she felt the same about you. But she would never want you to be unhappy – she’d never want you to not live life to the fullest.
Please get up out of your chair, get in your car, and go do something fun. It’s time to treat yourself. I hope this helps.
You are in my heart, always.
p.s. How are you liking the book I sent?
p.p.s. I expect pictures and stories of all the fun you will have.
Setting the card aside, he unveiled a Hawaiian shirt he wouldn’t wear even if he was dared, a pair of flip-flops, and a knee brace. Why did she send him this crap? Was she trying to be funny? Then he spotted a pamphlet that had a picture of a young couple having fun in some tropical place. Curiosity piqued, Ronald opened the pamphlet to find two tickets to Kauai, Hawaii.
He took the tickets out to look them over and saw Cassidy had left one more note inside the pamphlet.
Don’t say no. I know it was supposed to be you and Grandma going to Kauai next month for your fiftieth wedding anniversary. She would have loved to go, and you would have loved seeing her so happy. She would still want you to go. The second ticket is for anyone you’d like to take with you – Henry, perhaps. Maybe your best friend could use a vacation too.
Just don’t say no. Do this for her.
Truth be told, he wanted to go. His heart lurched in his chest, and his throat was a bundle of unshed tears. If he went to Kauai, maybe he’d feel Margaret’s presence again. He hadn’t felt it in awhile. Maybe he did need this, not that he would admit it to anyone.
He reached inside his pocket for his cell phone and called Cassidy.
He was embarrassed that his voice sounded like he’d been crying. He cleared his throat.
“Don’t say no.”
“I’m not saying no.”
“Good. I thought maybe you’d fight me on this. I know how much you hate flying.”
And he did. Just the thought of take-off made his stomach turn.
“I can’t say no to you. You know that.”
“What do you mean you can’t say no to me? Of course you can.” He heard teasing in her voice and realized that that was her plan – he wouldn’t say no to his favorite grandchild. He smiled and shook his head in amusement. Well done, he thought.
“I’ll go on one condition. Don’t say no.”
“Uh oh. This can’t be good.” Her sense of humor left some people wanting, but he appreciated good sarcasm and good-natured teasing.
“You have to come with me.”
“You want me to come with you? I have to work, Grandpa. I can’t take the time off. I would if I could, I promise.”
Of course she had to work. What was he thinking?
He wanted her to come. He wanted to feel connected to someone. To spend time with Cassidy. To visit a new place with someone who would love it as much as Margaret would have.
“You know what? I can make it work. I mean, what’s the point of being the boss if you can’t delegate? I would love to come with you.” She sounded excited. Maybe she needed this as much as she knew he did.
“Thank you, Cassidy.”
“I love you, Grandpa.”
“And I love you.”
“We can work out the details later. Let’s talk for a bit.” He had no doubt she’d be sending him an itinerary of the places they should visit and when it would be best to do so. He could wait for that. He was more of a let’s-see-how-it-plays-out kind of guy anyway. Schedules didn’t suit him.
“You’re wearing the shirt I sent aren’t you?”
“If I ever wear a shirt like that, take me to a mental facility because I’ll have gone crazy.”
She laughed and it warmed his heart. He may just be some grouchy old man, but he knew at least one person loved him.
And he loved her.
“If I take you to a crazy house, it won’t be because of some shirt. It’ll be because you wear socks with sandals.”