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?”
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 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.