by David Henson
Grandpa, an old red shirt draped over his shoulders like a cape, offers to lift the piano so my grandmother can sweep behind it. My grandmother tosses me a there-he-goes-again look. “Maybe later,” she says. “Don’t you need to rest your back?” Yesterday Grampa told my grandmother he’d pulled something hoisting the refrigerator to retrieve a penny. “Guess I should’ve used telekinesis,” he’d said.
As we sit at the kitchen table, Grandpa goes back to reading the paper, no doubt looking for wrongs to right. He began acquiring his superpowers about a year ago. His delusions were sadly comical at first. He chilled a glass of lemonade with a whoosh of his breath — never mind the ice cubes. He used his super speed to chop an onion in the time it took my grandmother to cut carrots, potatoes and cauliflower for the vegetable soup. One day he waved his arms and danced silently around my grandmother. Weary of it all, she ignored him till he began laughing and announced he was visible again.
Recently his superpowers have unwound potentially deadly behaviors. Seeing a kitten in the middle of the busy street in front of their house, Grandpa ran into traffic and lowered his shoulder toward an SUV to save the cat. My grandmother says the vehicle screeched to a halt just in time.
Before parts of his memory evaporated, Grandpa used to talk about how he would’ve prevented the wreck that changed all of our lives if he’d had his superpowers when he was younger.
Grandma and I checked out memory care units the day after the cat incident. In one, the hallway smelled like urine. In another … let’s just say the odor was even worse. I keep wondering if my grandparents would be able to afford something better if they hadn’t taken me in.
As my grandmother and I sip coffee to delay the inevitable, Grandpa snaps the newspaper, jumps up from the kitchen table and starts to rip off his shirt. “Gotta fly,” he says. “Needed in California.”
My grandmother and I lurch to grab Grandpa by the elbows. He tries to wrestle free at first, then deflates back into his chair. “OK, OK,” he says. “The fire crews probably have things under control by now anyway.”
I let the sink swallow the rest of my coffee then go into the bedroom and retrieve the bags my grandmother has packed for her husband of 46 years.
“Where do you think you’re going with those, fella?” Grandpa eyes my every move. His vision can’t melt lead, but my heart is a different story.
“Let’s get this over with,” my grandmother says, jangling the car keys from her purse. “I’ll drive.”
I’ve seen that look on her face before. My grandmother can be a woman of steel when she must.
David Henson and his wife have lived in Belgium and Hong Kong over the years and now reside in Peoria, Illinois. His work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net and has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Spelk, Hypnopomp, Pithead Chapel, MoonPark Review, Bull and Cross, and Literally Stories. His website is writings217.wordpress.com. His Twitter is @annalou8.