#7DayFlashFictionChallenge – Day Six
Continuing to mess with expectations, today’s flash piece is an attempt to work with a Memoir format. If I planned to keep this up for longer, I’d probably through a whole bunch of genres at the mental wall to see what sticks. Last night’s story was Horror wasn’t, but I think this one stayed truer to what I wanted when I started typing. Memories need to be taken out and dusted off once in a while or they might get lost. Sometimes, they need to be examined for truths beyond the memories themselves.
Thirty minutes and thirty-nine seconds by the stop watch to consolidate this particular memory in words, give it context, and examine it for truth. Not bad, I think, and while the intent of the #7DayFlashFictionChallenge was fiction, I honestly can’t promise this isn’t. It’s what I remember, but we all know what memory is like, and this particular one is forty-four years old. I’m only fifty.
Stay safe and be well, everyone.
Looking for Ice Cream
On a recent family call, my mother told us a brief story about the time long, long ago, when we lived in Sudbury, that my sister and I chased after the Dickie Dee man (read: teenager with an ice cream bike with a crummy summer job selling ice cream to little kids and making less than the exercise was worth) just in front of a rainstorm. We were quick, but not as quick as that teenager on the ice cream bike, and by the time she caught up with us, we were half a dozen blocks from home and all three of us soaked through. Dad came along not long after with the car to pick us all up. It’s possible there may have been sanctions. It’s very likely there were warm baths and early bedtimes.
I have absolutely no recollection of the incident.
But the story did stir a different, similar memory, a vague memory, as much because of my age when it happened as the distance in time since it happened. Knowing the little bit I do about how human memory works, it’s entirely possible I’ve stitched together a few bits of several different memories to make it work.
But the point is that it works. For me. Human memory might be fallible, but it’s also what we have to work with. I don’t have a lot of concrete memories of my grandfather, and this is one of them. Or it’s several knitted together into one. I don’t know that it matters.
Since my grandfather died in 1978, the summer I was seven years old, I have to assume what I’m remembering happened the summer before that, but it might have been a year earlier. We were living in Sudbury at the time, and either summer would match up with them coming for a visit.
I chased the Dickie Dee man, probably not the same one although I have no way to know. When you’re six, do you pay attention to the person giving you the ice cream or to the ice cream itself? It was a more leisurely chase, walking with my grandfather along the sidewalk to where we thought he was supposed to be. Well, where I thought he was supposed to be. I expect grandpa was keeping track of me and just didn’t mind going for a walk. If he had to buy me ice cream at some point during that walk, it was probably worth the change in his pocket.
The sky had that grey, going to rain but maybe later, cloud cover. My grandfather was wearing a brown jacket and an old driver’s flat cap, which makes me think that maybe it was earlier or later than summer, or at leas the hot part of it in those days. If I was wearing a jacket… well, I’d have to ask him and I’m a few years too late for that. If I could ask, there are a lot of other questions I’d really like the answers to first, things no one else who’s still with us can tell me. His childhood, his youth, his service overseas. There are a lot of things I wish I knew.
But we walked along the sidewalk, me happy that we were looking for ice cream, and him happy to spend a little time with his grandson. I remember he walked with his hands in his pockets, and I don’t know if that was normal for him or not. Vague images of houses around us, the wide sidewalk, me being just a little impatient that he wasn’t walking fast enough because if we weren’t fast enough there might not be any ice cream when we got to wherever it was the Dickie Dee man was supposed to be.
“Come on, grandpa!”
He chuckled. Maybe actually laughed. I remember it both ways. And I can hear the words in his voice, one of the few things I can remember him saying. There are a lot of things I wish I could remember better. “What’s your hurry?” Or maybe, “Hold your horses.” I remember it both ways. “Just up around the corner, isn’t he?”
There were a few drops of rain, but not a storm, a few dark spots on his brown jacket, a few more on the sidewalk, and we walked along that sidewalk to find ice cream that I can’t remember if we found.
That’s all. The whole memory. A grey day in Sudbury walking on the sidewalk with my grandfather looking for a teenager with an ice cream bike, and a tiny piece of the probably much longer running conversation. I can’t tell you if that’s all one memory or not, but I remember it that way.
Grandpa would have turned 105 this year. I only ever got a chance to know him as a small child. It wasn’t enough, and I only have a few fragments of memory to go with a few family photos. This was one of them.
But it’s strange how the mind works. How someone else’s memory can spark one of your own. Whether I can trust that memory or not, whether I can trust any particular memory or not, doesn’t matter. What I remember is part of who I am, so I’ll choose to keep that particular memory, real or not, as a tiny, happy part of my childhood.