My short story for the Flash Fiction Challenge of Chuck Wendig.
A Floral Welcome
Bang! The last moving box hit the floor. Grace thanked the moving team and gave the big one the cash. ‘Thanks for the service guys!’ she shouted to the duo walking back to the truck and closed the door. There she was, all alone in her new house. She sat herself down in the couch as she sighed, ‘What a tiring day.’
The doorbell rang. Grace didn’t really feel like having to talk to anyone else this day, but politeness won from laziness so she opened the door anyway. Her eyes met an old lady. Gray curly hair, small round eyeglasses and a magnificent floral dress that probably matched the floral curtains Gracy imagined the lady to have in her home. And probably also the cushions on her couch. Highly likely her bed sheets as well. Maybe even… ‘Hi,’ the old lady stopped Grace’s overflowing imagination. ‘I saw you moving in and I wanted to welcome you in the neighborhood.’
The old lady had a very nice smile. But for some reason the expression in her eyes didn’t really match the same emotion. ‘Hi, I’m Grace. Nice to meet you. And you are?’ ‘May, like the month,’ she grinned. ‘If you ever need anything, I live two houses to the left of yours,’ she pointed with her wrinkled finger. ‘Thanks.’ ‘I’ll leave you now, I see you still have some unpacking to do,’ May pointed at the cardboard boxes in the hall way. They said their goodbyes and Grace shut the door.
Grace felt quite strange after the meeting, but couldn’t really put her finger on why she felt that way. She didn’t really feel like unpacking anymore, so she searched for the box with her bed sheets and took them on a battle with the bed matrass and duvet. It took her quite some time, but at the end she won. She was so tired, it didn’t even take her a whole minute to fall asleep.
The sound of tires screeching was followed by a loud bang. Grace’s face hit the car wheel as the car hit the tree. They always say that the most accidents happen in the area where you live, but Grace somehow did not feel happy about being another statistic. Her head was pounding. A drop of blood fell on her left arm as she was busy trying to unbuckle the seat belt. She felt nauseated and giddy and passed out.
Opening her eyes was a hard thing to do, the room was too bright. Slowly she regained sight. Grace found herself in a bed in the hospital. ‘Hi there,’ an elderly smiling nurse greeted her. ‘No worries, you’re doing fine, Grace.’ Grace didn’t feel fine at all. ‘You only have a mild concussion and a small closed fracture in the index finger. We taped it to the adjacent finger to keep it immobile, probably for another week or so. You’ll also need to take some rest the next couple of days. ’Thanks,’ Grace responded. ‘Oh and you had a nose bleed, so you might find some blood stains on your clothes,’ she pointed at a pile of clothes on the cupboard next to the bed.
Grace suddenly remembered the car accident and the reason she hit the brakes hard. ‘May!’ she shouted. ‘How is the old lady doing? Is she ok? Is she here?!’ The nurse looked surprised and put her hand reassuring on Grace’s left hand. ‘I’m afraid I don’t know about any other victims. Well at least she was not taken into care here out our hospital.’
‘When can I leave?’
‘The doctor will pay you a visit in the afternoon, but I think we can assume that you are allowed to leave after his visit.’
Grace handed the money to the taxi driver who hadn’t shut up during the ten minutes drive. A whole ten minutes of enthusiastically talking about some stupid soccer game. Grace never cared about sports and at this moment she could only think of the old lady. He happily took her money and drove away. Which in return made Grace happy.
Grace looked at the house in front of her. Roses in the front yard, exactly how she would have imagened the front yard to be. She walked on to the path between the beautiful roses and rang the doorbell. A small girl, probably about ten years old, opened the door. ‘Mooom, there’s a lady,’ she shouted and a nice looking woman got up next to the girl. Great, her daughter and granddaughter are with her, at least she’s not alone. ‘Is May doing well?’ The woman looked at her with big eyes. ‘May?’ ‘Yes. May. Your mom? The old lady that lives here?’
Grace felt uneased by the surprised look in the eyes of the young woman. ‘Wasn’t the name of the previous owner of this house May?’ the girl asked her mom. ‘You might be right,’ she responded. ‘If you’re looking for the previous owner, she died two years ago,’ she turned back to Grace.
Grace was flabbergasted and for a moment did not know what to say. ‘What did she look like?’ she finally asked both ladies. Mom was thinking for some seconds and said ‘Gray hair, round eye glasses.’ ‘Oh and pretty flowery dresses,’ said the little girl.