Flash fiction by Tina Konstant
Sissy hears the words but puts the fork laden with sausage and potatoes in her mouth anyway. Ignorance. The best defence. If she can pretend she doesn’t hear the comments, the nips, the hints, the snipes, the little things that people say, then she won’t have to respond. If she doesn’t respond then then they won’t have to lie and say they were joking. Which means there won’t be a fight. Which means there won’t be bad feeling. The veneer of “acceptance” can remain intact.
“Anyone for more potatoes? Kathy, Michael?”
Sissy glances left and right. She sits between Kathy and Michael. The offer for more potatoes doesn’t fall to her. What are they saying? Are they saying anything?
Sissy ignores it. Keeps chatting. Pretends not to notice. Pretends it’s normal. Pretends she doesn’t want more potatoes. No comment is necessary because nothing happened.
Seconds dished out, Michael leans back. “A walk after lunch anyone?” He glances at Sissy. It’s just a little glance, but she sees it. “I know I could do with a workout.” He laughs. Kathy laughs. Did he just make a joke? Sissy isn’t sure so she smiles and pushes her empty plate away.
Ah well, she can keep up. It’s just a walk…
“Come on, Sissy. Hurry it up a bit.”
What starts out as a walk becomes a game of catch up. Kathy overtakes Michael, Michael catches up with Kathy, Kathy plays tag with Michael. They glance back at Sissy. “Come on, Sissy,” Kathy yells.
Sissy lengthens her strides. In less than five minutes sweat trickles down her back. Shit. Sweat stains on a blue shirt. Not pretty.
“You alright back there?” Michael calls. Kathy glances back. It’s a brief look. But Sissy notices.
Kathy jogs to keep up with Michael. She says something. He laughs. Sissy bends down and pretends she has a stone in her shoe. They keep going.
Back at the house, new cars are in the drive. More people have arrived. Family. People Sissy hasn’t seen in years.
There are hugs and kisses and squeals. “Louise!” Kathy hugs a tall woman dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt. “You’ve lost so much weight. You look so good. Sissy.” Kathy points at Louise. “Doesn’t Louise look good?”
Sissy hugs and kisses her cousin, puts a big old smile on her face and agrees how wonderful she looks.
In the kitchen, Louise hands Sissy a little bunch of lavender she’d picked from her garden. The tiny purple blooms let out a scent that fills the room; impregnating everything. Sissy breathes it in.
“So wonderful,” Louise fills a vase with water, puts it on the table, takes the lavender and arranges it. “Amazing what a difference something so small can make.”
Sissy nods. “Yes,” she says. “The little things matter.”