Infinite Pathways 1st place finalist for Short Fiction up to 500 words:
Talking to Teddy Under the Covers
by Cheryl MacLean
No, not the white powder she rubs on me after my bath, the pink powder she puts on her face with the big soft brush that she tickles my nose with and makes me sneeze.
She smelled like that.
Daddy didn’t tell me not to wake her up today. He let me hold her hand and didn’t say shhh. Usually when she’s sleeping and I sneak in to lie down beside her, her hands are cold and I breathe on them to warm them up, like she does to me when I come in from making angels in the snow. But today they weren’t cold like that. Her hand felt like my doll—smooth and plasticky—not like Mommy’s hands at all.
Then Grandma pulled me away by my arm. She whispered something to Daddy that I couldn’t hear and we all went out to Grandpa’s big black car. Daddy sat in the front seat and wouldn’t let me sit on his lap so I sat with Grandma in the back seat, but I pushed myself up against the door because she smelled like the attic in their old house on the farm, and she held my hand too tight.
Grandpa started backing up and I said, Wait! What about Mommy?
Daddy said she wasn’t coming home.
Grandma put her bent up wrinkled hand on my cheek. It smelled like Mommy’s ash tray on the back deck that fills up with rainwater and looks like cigarette soup—black at the bottom, brown in the middle, and puffed up cotton balls and orange pieces of paper floating on top like the alphabet noodles in my vegetable soup.
I begged Daddy to go back in and kiss her, like Sleeping Beauty, to wake her up so she could come home with us. But Daddy just puffed one of Mommy’s cigarettes and Grandpa drove us home.
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Cheryl MacLean has been a professional writer since before the turn of the century. After a short stint in the hard-edged world of journalism, she turned away from the bylined writing path to the anonymous world of technical writing, where she has published thousands of pages of scarce-read enterprise software documentation. Several years ago, with her forties growing ever larger on the horizon, Cheryl dusted off the right side of her brain and rekindled her dreams of writing creatively for pleasure. She is currently navigating the stormy waters of the publishing world with her first novel, has three other novels in progress, and is dabbling in short fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry.
Follow Cheryl on Twitter: @Writer_Cheryl