The Brave

I wrote this flash fiction story a while back but came across it tonight. I wanted to share it because I wrote this story using the prompt: Take three objects in the room and mention all three in a story. My prompts were a ticker tape machine, a dragonfly stained-glass lamp, and a framed picture with a Latin quote. I thought it was interesting how this story unfolded simply inspired by those objects.

***

Grace Chesterfield lay curled up on the overstuffed couch in her father’s office on Wall Street reading under the light of the green and red stained-glass dragonfly lamp. She snuggled under a cashmere throw, reading Wuthering Heights and dreaming of Heathcliff. The comforting clicking of the stock ticker on its handsome mahogany stand kept lulling her to sleep.

She had a slight temperature, just enough to keep her from going to school, and her father had insisted that she come with him to work rather than stay all day alone with the new housekeeper. Grace had been happy to come along. Ever since her mother had died just two months before, she hadn’t wanted to be too far from her father. She knew that was an immature response for a girl of twelve, but she didn’t care. She also knew that her father needed her as much as she needed him, at least for now.

Grace woke up to his cool hand on her forehead.

“Still a little warm,” Jeffery Chesterfield said, pulling the blanket up to his daughter’s chin and stroking her cheek with his finger. “We have to get you back in the pink, dear girl,” he said, “we have the Setzler’s party this weekend and there are going to be ponies for you to ride.”

Grace snuggled deeper into the soft couch. “Couldn’t we just stay home one weekend, Daddy, just you and I? Couldn’t we maybe spend time in the back garden like we used to do with Mommy, just relaxing and reading and doing absolutely nothing?”

Jeffery placed an additional log on the fire. “But Mr. Setzler is one of my wealthiest clients, and you and his Laura have become friends. Surely, spending time out in the country and picking a pony to ride every day sounds fun for you.”

“Only if you’re with me the whole time,” Grace said, trying not to sound whiney. “It’s just that every weekend we have to go visit your clients. It’s almost as if you’re afraid for us to stay home alone.”

Jeffery looked a bit sheepish. “I’m afraid I’m guilty there…the house feels so empty without your mother and I’m not sure how to cope with that change.”

“So is that why we keep going and going and going?”

“Oh, dear Lord, girl, is that how you’ve seen what we’ve been doing?”

“Yes.”

He sat on the edge of the couch, deflated. “I’ve been a coward, I’m afraid.”

“Not a coward, Daddy, just sad.”

He pulled out his handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes. “Look at me behaving like a baby.”

Grace snuggled close to him. “Could we tell the Setzlers I’m just a little too ill to come this weekend? Could we, Daddy?”

“But they’re expecting us and we have already committed and…”

“Daddy, please!”

“But…they are such kind people and – “

“The more reason they will understand.”

“Perhaps next weekend, my dear, so we’re not rude…”

Grace curled into a ball on the couch and covered her head with the blanket. “Never mind, Daddy. It’s all right.”

Jeffery Chesterfield stood silent, contemplating the social consequences of a last-minute cancellation. He was just concluding that the Setzler account was too profitable to risk when his gaze settled on the framed Latin quote above his desk, Forest fortuna adiuvat, ‘Fortune favors the brave.’ He picked up the telephone and said loud enough so Grace could hear clearly. “Mrs. Setzler, I must beg your forgiveness…”

Grace sat up, eyes shining.

When Jeffery placed the phone back on the receiver he said, “Could we plan a few activities so the house doesn’t feel so lonely?”

“We can weed the garden and take a walk and just sit and talk,” Grace said, excited. “And we can play dominoes or cards or horseshoes – -.” She paused, then added, “But, Daddy, we may also have to be sad and lonely just a little bit since Mommy isn’t there. It’s okay, we can do that, too, and it will be all right.”

Jeffery leaned back in his office chair. “To honor her memory?”

“That, of course,” Grace said, “but more importantly to prove to her that we are brave.”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary Jo Doig says:

    Wow, Len!

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