By Sean C. Wright-Neeley
Widow Fannie Ridges was a hair shy of six-feet tall. Her milk-chocolate face held few wrinkles after being on the planet for seventy-six years. Her salt and pepper hair was relaxed, and cut in a bob, just above her shoulders. Seventy-six Fannie was, but she stood as straight as any thirty-year-old, and played like one, too. She was active in church and the neighborhood senior center, still mowed her yard, and carried a trash bag on her long walks to pick up litter.
Another one of Fannie’s passions was lending surrogate parenthood to the five stair-step children, down the street, ranging in ages from two to ten. Fannie wiped their noses, read them stories, tied their loose shoelaces, and gave them snacks. She made two apple cobblers one day – one for her church potluck, and another for the children to take home.
Days later, Fannie Ridges sat on her porch with a glass of iced tea in hand and a lit citronella candle nearby to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The sun was inching downward, and was dusk was about to take the stage. The stair-step children ran by, trying to beat the streetlights home. “Hey!” Fanny called to them, waving and smiling, “stop by here a minute.”
The children scampered towards her happily. “Hi, Ms. Ridges!” Fannie made note of the girls’ uncombed hair and the boys’ ashy arms, as they climbed the steps to her porch. The two-year-old only wore a diaper. “How y’all like the apple cobbler?” The children looked at each other then looked down. Fannie frowned. “You didn’t like it? It’s okay if you didn’t. I’ll just make you something else next time.”
“No,” the six-year-old said while she tugged at a frayed plait by her ear, “we didn’t get any.”
Fannie set down her tea beside her chair, her jaw slack. “Come here, baby,” she commanded in a firm, yet gentle voice. Once the girl complied, she took both her hands. They were dirty, but Fannie didn’t care. The girl continued to look down. “Why didn’t you get any?”
“Our uncle ate it,” she nearly whispered.
Fannie’s jaw clenched in disgust and fury. “All right,” she said in a trembling voice, “thanks for telling me. Y’all better go on and get home before dark.” The children left her porch. That was a good thing because Fannie didn’t know how much longer she could have held in her anger. She might have scared those sweet babies. She felt like cursing and punching. What kind of sorry bastard steals food from kids? Grrr!
Fannie had seen their no-count uncle on occasion. Had seen him trudge to the mailbox in sweatpants and a dirty undershirt while on her walks. She sighed, shook her head, and leaned over to blow out the citronella candle. Fannie collected her tea glass and went inside.
The incident had slipped on the back shelf of Fannie’s mind for about a week. Then she saw that dirty-shirted slug, coming in from somewhere while she was on her walk. He parked his old, beat-up Toyota Corolla in the driveway and stepped out. Fannie glared, her anger anew, as she passed. He just squinted his red eyes at her and nodded. Too much whiskey.
Fannie only fed the children at her place, after the apple cobbler debacle. But still. She prayed about it. The Lord says, “Vengeance is mine.” But still.
“Lord forgive me,” she whispered, as she stood in the kitchen, preparing the special meal.
The next time the children visited, and were about to leave, Fannie told them to wait. “I made something special for your uncle: spaghetti,” she beamed, and pulled out a ceramic dish, covered with foil, out of the fridge. “Tell him not to worry about returning the dish.” The children thanked her, and left with the food.
Drew accepted the dish from his nieces and nephews with vigor. He raced with it to the microwave right away and tore off the foil and popped it in. Drew’s mouth watered in anticipation as the acrid smell of tomato sauce and smoky meat filled the kitchen. After it was done cooking, he carried the hot plate to the table, where his greedy ass wolfed down the food in five minutes flat. He was scraping up bits of sauce when he noticed something strange at the bottom of the plate. It looked like…writing. He pulled a napkin from the dispenser, and wiped the plate enough to see. A message had been written in indelible ink on the ceramic piece in tight feminine script: ONLY A LOW-DOWN DIRTY DOG TAKES FOOD FROM KIDS, SO I FED YOU ACCORDINGLY. THE SPAGHETTI MEAT YOU JUST ATE WAS MIXED WITH YAPPY BOY DOG FOOD!
Drew’s eyes bucked. He stood up, and let loose a disgusted groan. His hacking gags could be heard all the way down the hall.
For more flash fiction by Sean C. Wright-Neeley, click here.
I’m pleased to announce the release of my 8th book, Skoll’s Diary.
Africans and African Americans left Earth in 1900, and went to another planet in The Milky Way to escape mistreatment…
It’s now the year 3005 on that terraformed planet. We get a peek into the life of a bright and sensitive teenaged boy, Skoll, through his journal. He loves his world, but is curious about life on Earth. Then suddenly, an epic event casts him in the middle of a difficult decision. The fate of the planet’s community is in his hands.
Get the book here. I’d appreciate your leaving a review if you read it. Thanks in advance!