Friday, March 26, 2010

#fridayflash: The Crystal Set

Image: Badseed
By Lily Mulholland

Jessie scraped at the verdigris on the bronze art deco sculpture with her thumbnail. Visiting granddad was like going to a museum, only this time she could touch. She traced her fingers along the objets d’art stuffed into every spare space in the large walnut bookcase. Her granddad was a fossicker and collector, born between world wars, when reusing and recycling weren’t the latest fad but a simple matter of survival. She had never respected his need to keep everything, just in case. A kid of the disposable generation, she sneered at his frugality.

Jessie remembered the time she’d been messing with granddad’s prized crystal set. He had picked it up at an estate sale and, when he discovered it wasn’t working, pulled it apart, fixing it with patience and determination. Strictly forbidden to touch it, she had dared one day when he wasn’t looking -- a resin knob came off in her hand. Having never confessed, she still felt the guilt.

Her mum came out of the main bedroom, her face raw with emotion. Jessie was shocked – Sarah had always been stoic, her father’s daughter.

‘You’d better go in,’ said Sarah. ‘There’s not much time.’

Jessie stepped into the room, the bed was as she remembered, but the bedside tables had been replaced by beeping, whirring machines. The nurse sat on a low chair near the wall, not looking up from her knitting.

Settling upon the bed, Jessie took the dying man’s hand, cradling it in hers.

‘I’m sorry granddad,’ she whispered.

‘I broke your radio.’


This week's #fridayflash story is a slightly modified version of an entry into Every Day Fiction's String of 10 Two contest. (It didn't win, clearly!)


  1. The final visit with a dying grandparent is a memory lots of people have from their childhood. I remember singing 'I can sing a rainbow' to mine. A truthful piece, Lily.

  2. Loved the sentence about grandpa's house being like a museum without the no touching edict!

    A wonderful little story about saying goodbye to a loved one and to a long held secret.

  3. Dan, I sing that to my kids all the time. It would be heartbreaking to see one of them sing it to one of my parents if they were dying. What an intense moment in time.

    Thanks Marisa - I often feel like that in older people's houses.

  4. Well written and thoughtful piece!

  5. Very touching, and sort of sad and not-sad at the same time.
    That line about being able to touch was brilliant :-)

  6. Great description here, and a very touching confession at the end. Good story!

  7. Beautiful piece, Lily. Quite touching in regards to her confession and the understanding she came to about life the way it was.

  8. Secular absolution, Lily. This is lovely.

  9. Beautiful story, Lily. The part about the grandfather saving and recycling everything made me smile.


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