Knock Knock!

This post is for The Red Dress Club weekly writing prompt.

This week’s prompt was to write a short piece in which a character told a joke and a character cried. The piece has to be maximum 600 words and must be able to be read aloud in no more than 3 minutes. The idea is from an NPR contest called Three-Minute Fiction.

This post is fiction.

As I walk down the hallway, the sound of Blue’s Clues emanating from the television grates on my nerves. It’s her favorite show, even the episodes she’s seen several times over.

Why does it have to be so loud?

Entering the room, I cross over to the television set and turn it down ever so slightly, hoping she doesn’t notice. She’s too engrossed in the show to care and I can’t decide whether to be thankful for this or sad.

“Would you like some lunch?” I ask, a bit louder than usual. “I can make grilled cheese, your favorite?”

Nothing.

I walk over to the couch, trying to stay calm in my second attempt to get her attention. It shouldn’t be this hard; she shouldn’t be able to tune me out so completely.

Maybe she watches too much TV.

“Sue, did you hear me? Lunch? I’ll make you some grilled cheese?”

I really don’t feel up to this today. My patience is worn threadbare and I haven’t slept well in days. I feel so cooped up in this house with her, as snow flurries blow around outside the windows like crazed ghosts.

I wish Paul weren’t out of town this week. Doing this all alone is just so much harder.

“Knock-Knock! Knock-Knock!” she says suddenly, apparently still oblivious to my question about lunch. I am really not in the mood for this, but I swallow those feelings yet again.

“Who’s there?” I reply, as if I have no idea what’s coming. Oh, but I do.

“Orange!”

“Orange who?” I say, turning around to face her. Here it comes.

“Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana? Ha ha ha! Get it? Banana!”

Hearing her childish laughter spill so effortlessly from her tiny body, I can’t help but chuckle. She loves this joke, understands the silliness of it all, and tells it repeatedly.

Her laughter drifts away and her focus returns to her show, still oblivious to the lunch question I posed five minutes earlier.

I wipe away the tears spilling down my cheeks with my sleeve and decide to make lunch anyway.

Because my mother-in-law is losing her battle with reality.

One knock-knock joke at a time.

Comments

  1. Wow…I totally did not see that coming!
    I love that you showed the complexity of emotions at play, frustration, sadness, helplessness, and tenderness.
    Wonderful job!

  2. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds says:

    I didn't get it until the end either. I hope that my senility at least has the decency to leave me with a better joke!

  3. Sluiter Nation says:

    oh my…wow. Throughout the whole thing I was reading it and nodding my head at how this is so true in our house. Then I got punched in the gut at the end. Because Sue? Was my grandma. Tears in my eyes for ALL of the relating going on for me with this story.

    This may be fiction…but you made it VERY real.

  4. Oh wow!
    You got me. I wasn't ready for the ending. Good job!

  5. Blue Moon Girl says:

    I did the same thing Katie did. I'm sitting here thinking, "oh yes, that's Darling Girl all the way…" and then you hit me with the ending! I remember that with my husband's grandmother. Remember it all too well. It's so painful. So sad and so true.

    Fantastic. Just wow.

  6. Not Just Another Jennifer says:

    I'm crying, too. My mom really is struggling with her sanity. I totally didn't see it coming, just like in your story. Beautifully done.

  7. I LOVE how you did that! Surprise ending. My grandfather went through this for years before he died, and it was so sad to watch. Great job, as usual, Sherri.

  8. Wow! Great twist, didn't see it coming at all. Which made is even more sad.

  9. moveovermarypoppins.com says:

    ooof.

    not at all the ending I was expecting.

    so sad. and so gently and beautifully handled.

  10. Wow.. All I can say is wow. Amazingingly real and touching.

  11. Booyah's Momma says:

    So, I thought this was totally my life… until I got to the twist at the end.

    Powerful stuff. You do fiction pretty well, my friend.

  12. Theta Mom says:

    I agree, it may have been fiction but it sounded very REAL!

  13. Great twist!

  14. So touching! My grandmother just passed away in January after struggling with dementia. She spent over a year unable to recognize anyone, just a shell of her former self. I think dementia and Alzheimer's are so sad!

  15. Elizabeth Flora Ross says:

    OK, I do did not see that coming! Another beautifully written story about the sad reality of old age. My husband and I are both dealing with this with our parents. So difficult. And it is true. We come in to the world as babies, and often leave the same way.

    Well done.

  16. Well done, Sherri. Your story is fiction but not. It's reality. One of those times where we have to learn to laugh. Or we'll cry. Knock knock indeed!

  17. Sherri, I can totally relate! I think we would get along swimmingly. And you could write anything. You write so convincingly no matter what topic you choose. Great job.

  18. You got me. I didn't expect that ending. GREAT post. Visiting from TRDC. =)

  19. That ending really, really got to me. It took me by surprise first of all and then I had to go back and reread the post. Really,really strong and great post.

  20. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says:

    Brilliant twist!!

    I love when writing does this. I'm wondering, 'does the girl have autism? developmental delays?'

    But no…

    Perfect.

  21. Missy@Wonder, Friend says:

    Amazing. Brilliant.

  22. HonestConvoGal says:

    I enjoyed it. A very O Henry twist to the end. I particularly like the dauther-in-law's resigned laughter at the joke. That felt real to me. How many times have laughed at knock knock jokes just because they're so NOT funny? Really nice piece. I just recently started following your blog and you're writing is tremendous.

  23. That was really good but so sad. I hope this doesn't have a glimmer of truth to it for you & your loved ones 🙁

  24. What a twist! Great job!

  25. Sherri you've been holding out on us. Great job.

  26. This is amazing. I didn't see the end coming either… This sure does turn this story into a grim one. You're so talented!

  27. Dude, you got me! THAT was out of nowhere!

    Truly, Sherri, you are so very talented! You need to pursue writing more seriously. Publish a series of short stories or something. You can do the self-publishing thing now through venues like Amazon, etc.

  28. Loved the ending!

    I know some old ladies like that.

    And, my own mother is on her way there as well…

  29. Beautiful story. I love twist endings.

  30. Whoa. I love that. Great twist at the end. Nice job, Sherri.

  31. You rock.

  32. Oh man, that was amazing.