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House Paddling

Author: Willow
Story: Blue Boys
Title: House Paddling
Rating: G
Words: 502
Challenge: Honey-Nut #7 (the best memory is not so firm as faded ink)
Topping: Whipped Cream
Summary: Holding onto something lost is both painful and soothing. It's only a matter of time before everything fades. Spiridon does his best to ensure that doesn't happen to him.

When he closed his eyes and pictured his father, the sun always blazed behind him like a tidal wave of light. It silhouetted his father's towering form and melted into his blond hair. His honest, narrow face was half-hidden as he bent to tinker inside the chest of one of his automatons, both standing side-on so the light winked between the two figures. It blinded Spiridon and it made him proud to call him Father.

Sometimes Spiridon's grandfather stood there, too. The two men smiled the same dimpled smile, and laughed with the same leaning stance. Lately his grandfather eclipsed the light, his tortoise like features fading into black emptiness. It filled Spiridon's chest with pain. Soon enough, he'd forget that face and only his grandfather's voice would be left; echoing in Spiridon's memories as if leafing through a dusty book.

He tried not to cry at the loss. Instead, he stole photos from around the house and hid them in his journals; checking them fervently to be sure the wrinkled features stayed sharp in his mind.

Two years ago the house had flooded; one of the disadvantages to living at the base of a hill on the outskirts of a city. The sewers overflowed and the ground floor of their house, sitting like an expectant fish bowl, overflowed with a lake. Spiridon's mother, despite a record-breaking practicality in all manner of catastrophes, had wept as if the dining-room table was a dead child floating down the hallway.

In the height of his mother's hysteria, Grandfather had arrived; his satchel on his head and his jacket stuffed with precious papers. "Good heavens," he said as he forced open the front door. "Where's Loch Nessy? You've out done yourself redecorating this time." It certainly smelled like a home for monsters.

He caught the floating table, precariously wobbled onto the slippery polished top and then paddled to the staircase. Spiridon's father had laughed and rushed into the family lake, wobbling aboard to take the stern. "Come on, son," he said, offering Spiridon his hand. "Up you get!"

"Oh, please don't," wailed his mother, "the table's damaged enough."

But Spiridon smirked, the sailors wading closer to the staircase where he stood out of the way with his mother, and teetered aboard without a backwards glance. It sank a little at the additional weight and they cried out as their bums got a dousing of cold water.

"Tally-ho!" cried Grandfather and the three began thrashing their legs and hands; kicking back water with their eyes on the living room. Spiridon's mother shrieked as they splashed her in the effort. "Quick!" said Grandfather. "We've angered Nessy! Swim for you lives, lads. Every soul for himself!"

As the shock subsided, even Mother laughed and she marched into the lake; her hair clinging to her pearly skin in wild abandon. "I'll turn you into gruel," she vowed, and grabbed Father by the belt. He seemed to regret choosing the stern.

Grandfather had a way of turning things the right side up.

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September 2012


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