“One More Summer”–flash fiction, Difficult People

One More Summer

(Por Peter Tietjen, Amigo Viejo)



          The shadows had filled M. Grilot’s study by midday. They were not distinct as with a sun but the vague grays like a sea bottom in winter in a dark narrow cove, the rippled sands, the dull light of turbulent frigid sea water, the black charcoal lumps of rock that littered the bottom like failed creatures lost in a muddled survival race to nowhere. M. Grilot had locked up his money chest after breakfast. His hands were still cold after a shallow sleep. No respite he found from an uneasiness that had gripped him for the past months. The occasional mail from associates, the rarer visits from village friends, the winter was early and people were more withdrawn than normal falls. M. Grilot had begun to pray a bit more, which is to say that he actually was frightened enough now to beseech his guardian angels, saints, and anyone else higher up…please, he would at last manage, keep me safe, help me through this winter. It was an early cold, early freeze in September, snow mantle in late October…and all signs the descent into the deep freeze was a month in advance, suggesting, and here he felt the ache in his legs, the sciatica nerve burned by the hip bone, the knee crunched like inflamed cellophane, a winter descending from Polar ice caps…something worthy of an Eskimo. So, he prayed, halting, embarrassed, pathetic utterances…shameful contrition, fear-driven, an old man in his blue coat, heavy trousers and solid boots…sitting by the small fire in his study. No clear thoughts, no longer grand youthful ambitions, only the humbled white hairs of a tired old man clinging unreasonably to life…one more spring, one more summer, he whispered, hands clasped in the dim light from the window.




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