LANA GRIMES - THE FLASK
Lana Grimes (born LaTasha Allen) spent high school in the drama department. If she wasn’t acting on the stage, she was behind the scenes directing, choreographing, writing, building a set piece, or producing the show. Her love of the stage filtered into creating character profiles for online role-play blogs, and so was born the writer. Lana’s early work includes fan-fiction stories and flash fictions based around a song.
In early 2018 Lana began writing her first fiction story on a popular literary server. The reader’s response gave her the confidence to later return to school. She enrolled at Full Sail University studying for her bachelor’s degree in creative writing for entertainment claims it to be the third best decision of her life, behind her spouse and son.
“Mama it’s not safe for you to keep leaving the nursing home without letting anyone know,” he said with a frustrated sigh.
“You don’t understand, Jason,” she replied. “This is where it happened.”
Jason clenched his jaw in frustration, his eyes swept over the hotel room just through the glass doorway. Inside was an average room with two double beds, a desk, dresser, and television. They sat at a plastic outdoor table in an awning covered patio area. He turned to gaze at his mother. She’s holding a small silver flask and her eyes are glossed over. Jason pinched the bridge of his nose, unclenched his jaw and took a deep breath to sooth his nerves.
“Okay then,” he said, softly. “Make me understand ma, tell me what’s significant about this adventure.”
“This is where it all began, Jason,” she said. “Your Daddy and I lived in this very room for six months before he was called off to war.”
She paused to smile down at the flask in her hand. Her fingers caressed it sliding over the engraved initials ‘M.B.’
“I still remember it so clearly,” his mother continued. “He would come home from the repair shop about the same time I would the beauty parlor. We would turn on the old radio and dance for hours. In that corner right there…” she paused and pointed to a spot behind Jason.
A tear trickled down her cheek and he turned to look at the corner. Nothing significant except an overgrown bush was there, he turned back to face his mother. Her gaze never wavered as she pulled the flask close to her bosom and hugged it tight.
“That’s where Matt proposed,” she said with a smile. “His parents weren’t too fond of him not wanting to be an accountant. Mine wanted me to marry rich. Neither of us wanted those futures, so we ran away. Made this room our home while we saved to buy a house. Then he was drafted. Matter of fact you were made here the night he shipped out.”
Jason cleared his throat. “I didn’t need that last bit mom.”
“Oh hush,” she shook her head. “Don’t act like you and Tracy just magically had my grandbabies.”
“Well no but…” he began.
“But nothing boy,” she said. “Now, where was I?”
“The draft,” he supplied.
“Right! You couldn’t just say no to your government,” she continued still holding the flask tight. “It got us that house so much faster though, he made seventy-eight dollars a month. That’s double what he was making at the mechanic’s shop and triple what I was bringing in.”
“Dad stayed in the army, didn’t he?” Jason asked.
“He did,” she said. “Decided he had enough after he heard you had that fight with Davey Cork. Said he couldn’t have his boy losing to someone named ‘Davey’ that it was time you learned how hold your own. Opened the repair shop the next day.”
Jason smiled at his mother and chuckled when she tried to hide a yawn. “You’re just as bad as my kids. Why don’t you go on in and lay down mama, we’ll head home in the morning.”
“Jason,” she stood up; flask clutched so tightly to her chest her knuckles appeared white. “I just want you to know how proud I am of you and that I love you more than anything. Thank you for being here for me when I need you.”
“Always mama,” he said. “Now, head on in I’m going to give Tracy a call then I’ll be right behind you.”
He watched her go and closed the door behind her. Slipping his phone out of his back pocket, he sighed and loosened his tie while he waited for his wife to pick up.
“Did you find her?” Tracy’s voice asked once the call connected.
“Yeah, we’re at a hotel just outside of Atlanta,” Jason said. “Did I ever tell you thank you for thinking of putting a tracking device in her necklace?”
“Every time,” she said. “Jason, we can’t afford for this to keep happening.”
“I know Trace.”
“Do you?” she asked. “You indulge her every time she takes off, this is the fifth time this year and it’s only April.”
“I had to miss work again,” she continued. “You’re missing hours at the shop.”
“I know Damn it,” He snapped. “Cut her some slack will ya, it’s not like she asked to get sick and need to be put in a home.”
“You’re right,” Tracy replied, her voice was strained.
Jason groaned and ran his hand through his hair “I’m sorry babe. This is all ju…”
“Should I call the home and tell them she’s on her way back?” she interrupted.
“No, I think it’s time we look into a new one,” he said. “I’ll just bring her home with me. I’m not sure how much I trust them anymore. We’re staying the night here and will drive home in the morning. I can’t wait to tell you the story she told this time, had the flask with my dad’s ashes clutched tight the whole time! Can you believe it will be a year tomorrow that my father died?”
“Don’t think about that right now,” she said. “Worry about getting home safe tomorrow so we can mourn him as a family. Goodnight Jason, I love you.”
The next morning, Jason nudged his mother gently to wake her. When she didn’t respond he tried again, and again. His father’s flask fell onto the bed next to her as he reached to check her pulse. Jason sat on the edge of the bed and looked around at the room. His gaze stopped at the back corner that his mother pointed to the night before. He blinked backed his tears then turned to the still woman on the bed.
“Well, thanks for telling me how it all began,” he said. “I’m glad you got to be here in the end.”