A Little Book of Happiness

Today’s prompt was to write a story using the words Grandfather, post office, photo album and folder………….

chfphotoalbumIn the little cluttered sitting room, I’m savouring the stillness. Sitting back slowly I let the familiar scent of beeswax and polish, and cabbages and greens waft around my nose. I always call on Pops on a Wednesday. It’s my afternoon off and when the kids are at school and the ironings been done and piled high on beds that I’ve just freshly changed I bustle in the kitchen to bake his favourite biscuits. No matter what else that comes on a Wednesday I always bake him half a dozen or so oat & raisin flapjacks to have with a mug of tea. The scourge is, I hate baking, always have done. I hate the mess and the annoying sweat patch that runs up my back as I murder the dough to just the right texture.  I still make them though. I imagine his skin crinkling at the sides of his eyes and the little twitch of his mouth as he grins and I know how much he loves them.

“Hey Gina, look what I found in the cupboard under the stairs” he says as he shuffles his feet into a pair of threadbare slippers and plops down into the opposite armchair.

“What’s that” I lean over and tug at a slice of tomato that’s got stuck to the underside of his cardigan sleeve.

“It’s your Grandma’s book of happiness, remember she used to call it that” I thought his eyes misted over slightly but couldn’t be sure in the dimming light.

“Yes and you used to say, it’s only a bloody photo album Edna, I’ll get my happiness from the tap room of the Rose & Crown when my horse comes in”  we both smile then, remembering her palms against each hip, her eyes squinted in a mix of fury and humour whenever she pretended she was angry at him.

She’d chuckle and say “Them happiness’s will be there long after that donkey of yours walks home, you miserable bugger” and he’d shoot her a knowing wink and stick the photos in the book for her all the same.

That all changed on the day my grandmother stood on the linoleum floor in the kitchen and started undoing the buttons on her blouse.

“I’m going to be a naturist” she said. “I want to be free and feel the cool breeze against my skin”

My Grandfather was a proud man, he’d seen off Hitler and worked in the shipyards, he was all for nudity, but that was in the bedroom between a man and his wife. “Not in the bloody Kitchen, Edna” he’d shouted over his paper. She’d stuck out her chin. You’ve never been happy, she told him. You’ve always been so uptight – so keen on your horses – and all that real ale!

She’d unhooked her bra. He tried not to look. She pulled off her skirt and her tights. His eyes caught her backside, like an oversized cushion as she went in search of the kettle.

The next Friday she went to collect her pension from the Post office on the high street.  A phone call from Mrs Brown, who lived two doors up, had stopped Pops in his tracks. He’d dropped the racing post and ran out of the house, still in his slippers. Grandma was stood by the counter, as naked as the day she was born, one hand on her hip the other waving her pension book high in the air. Her puppy dog’s ears, marshmallow pink, were swinging free in the wind. Pops had grabbed some folders off the nearest shelf and held them up across her unmentionables. Mrs Brown took off her coat and passed it to him. Nobody spoke.

Grandma worsened quickly from then, and we finally lost her last year. A part of Pops went with her. His sparkle is a little less bright now; his body seems frailer and weathered with grief. I sigh a little deeper and I’m glad of these little bits of time I can still spend with him. I put away the plates and straighten the kitchen before I leave, one less thing for him to worry about. Then I open the bin and see a mound of crumbled flap Jack buried at the bottom. Pops stands in the doorway looking guilty and rocking slightly on his feet

“Oh…… I love you Gina, but you can’t bloody bake” and he shoots me a knowing wink as my hands go to my hips…

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8 thoughts on “A Little Book of Happiness

  1. This is a lovely story Helen. Our parents and grandparents have given us so many wonderful stories to recount. Beautifully written and I get the sense of the heartfelt affection within the characters.

  2. I love the simplicity of your stories Melady, it’s raw and real and everyone has a pops just like this. in little words you gave an entire history of a couple and so well put together too. I love the reference to threadbare slippers,made me smile. Human’s are set in habits and likes, also like the hands on hips reference at the end,lol.
    True Nana’s gal huh?

  3. BTW, The Title A LITTLE BOOK OF HAPPINESS is just beautiful!
    My happiness is in the memories your characters retain, we human’s tend to let those go many times, for one silly reason or the other.

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