Grandma Drives to Scotland (response to reddit /r/writingprompts)

Grandma Drives to Scotland (response to reddit /r/writingprompts)

My grandmother was great at a many of things — smelling hunger from a mile away, washing that perfect, ocean breeze scent into my laundry, and baking the softest of chocolate chip cookies — but she was not good at arriving on time.

Last Christmas, I invited grandma over to my new apartment to spend the holiday time with my girlfriend and me. She only lived ten minutes away, and insisted that she could get herself there. “Okay, okay, Grandma,” I said over the phone, “just be careful.”

I guess it was around noon when she hopped in her 1992 Honda Accord that my dad bought for her a while back, getting her out of an older clunker and into a somewhat reliable vehicle. It was reliable, yes, but versatile…I hadn’t expected.

Kayla was still wrapping presents, and I was trying my hardest to hang lights around the living room when Grandma called me about a quarter after six to ask if she was going the right way.

“Aren’t I supposed to turn right at the corner of 5th and Anchor,” she asked, confused.

“Grandma, no. You should’ve turned left. You know that road is a dead end, right? You’ll have to turn around before you get to the pier.”

“Jay, I think I’m going the wrong way. Can you GPS me?” My little innocent grandmother still hadn’t learned much about technology, and thought I could track her little flip phone with mine. “Grandma, just turn around at the pier and get back onto I-95. Then follow 95 back around to town.”

“What?”

“Take I-95, Grandma!” I had to be a bit stern with her because she couldn’t seem to understand how ridiculous it is to mess up what originally was a ten-minute drive with a total of three turns.

“I don’t see I-95 anywhere. Can’t you GPS me, Jay?”

My grandmother must’ve been very lost at this point, and I was beginning to think she’d drive straight out of Maine and into Our Home, Our Native Land. “What do you see, grandma? Help me find where you are.” Any sort of landmark would help me find her, and then I’d drive out to have her follow me home.

“I’m on the Atlantic, Jay,” she said. I quickly looked for street names and backroads in my phone’s mapping app. “Grandma, there is no Atlantic highway or street name around here. What are you going on about?”

“Jay! I see a sign! Am I near your house?”

At this point, I began to feel a slight bit of relief, and hoped that maybe she somehow found her way to my apartment. “What does it say, grandma?”

“Scotland!”

The Man Between, chapter 1: “The Journal”

I found myself wandering through an old bookstore in a small town outside of Newmarket, New Hampshire, looking at books that possibly haven’t been touched in years. Dust fell from the shelves with each of my steps.

“How old is this place?” I called out to the old lady at the front of the store. She must have been in her 70s and these books were at least the same.

“This bookstore was opened by my grandmother almost a little over a hundred years ago, boy. Most of these books belonged to her husband — he even wrote a few himself,” she replied.

I looked through some of the rugged leather journals. Half interested, but still intrigued, I had to ask, “Did these journals belong to him? It seems he was—“

“A sailor, yes, boy. He kept a log of his ventures.”

That seemed pretty neat. I always loved personal stories of adventure, mostly because I didn’t have the balls to make any of my own.

“These journals are dated,” I said, “many months apart between each journal.”

Oh, this is odd, I thought.

“This one is empty,” I declared, “but it’s still dated on the pages as the most recent one of the many.”

She looked down for a long while and finally said, “He died on his last journey. His boat returned without him, and his journal sat open on his bunk desk. My grandmother simply placed it with the others. She opened the store soon after.”

“That’s tragic. But these pages are dated, as if the entries just melted away from the journal. . .” I said. “. . . I’d like to buy these, or at least the empty one to maybe write about my own travels.”

“Just take them, boy,” she said heartfelt and kindly to me, “No one has bought anything here for quite a while. I don’t need the money anyway, and I wouldn’t want my grandfather’s story to die with him.”

“Are you sure? I could give you something in return.”

“They’re yours now. Do as you wish,” she said.

“Thank you, ma’am. I really appreciate it.”

I looked around a while longer to make sure I grabbed all the journals, ten of them that I found. The last of which was the mysteriously empty one. I gathered all of them, thanked the sweet old lady once more, and headed out on my way.

There was about an hours drive through Newmarket to Stafford, NH, so I thought I’d plan what to do with the journals. I proposed to read them when I got the chance, and start my own little journal entry when I got home. Maybe I’d finally create my own little adventures starting with today’s random visit to that old store.

As the silence in the car became overwhelming, I decided to listen to the radio. Grouplove came on with one of my favorites, Ways to Go, then some of the overplayed songs came through and I began searching stations, one after the other in a strike of boredom.

Then a severe weather warning came through on all stations:

“—storm headed west from the coast tonight. It’s the fastest weather shift we’ve seen in a hundred years. Stay indoors and get your phones charged. You could see power outages over most of the east coast.”

Shit. I didn’t want to hear that.

The rain began a few minutes later, lightly at first, but soon growing into a raging black across the sky.

I made it home and unpacked my bag on my desk, then decided to make my first journal entry about my day. “April 4th, 2017,” I wrote beneath the old, worn out date on the first page, “Welcome to my life, little book.”

As I began to write about my day and the little bookstore, the power went out. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flash just in time to see my words seep into the page. I sat in awe for a moment, adjusting my eyes, before confused and absentmindedly writing, “what the fuck” in the middle of the page where my words used to be. I didn’t believe it, but soon enough, just as before, I watched those words slowly sink away as well.

Then, slightly, one by one, a few letters began to appear on the page. I adjusted my eyes once more, and almost fell out of my chair when I saw it.

H e l l o ?

A Day in the Life

I saw a man sitting alone at a coffee shop downtown. He never spoke a word, but he told me stories with his eyes. He was quite reclusive, but I still understood the sorrows in his shaky hands,

The memories behind his furrowed brow.

He sipped his coffee in silence, but his body was screaming at nothing.

After some time, he finally noticed my contemplative staring and gave me his most honest attempt at a genuine smile,

But I still saw the sadness behind his teeth.

I smiled back,

In such a way to portray that,

Eventually,

 

Things get better.

The End of the World

Just like the movies,

I trip and fall down all over my speech.

 

Just like the sunset,

I hide behind the edge of what you see.

 

Stay awake.

The candle is blowing out

From all the wind that’s coming from my mouth.

 

There’s no good reason

That poison is dripping from my teeth.

I have no answer

For all the words that stick out of my seems.

 

See the lights.

The mountains are falling down;

The fire is spewing from the mouth.

 

Do you know what’s going on?

Have you felt the world slowing down?

Do you know the distance

Of stars far beyond the ones you see?

 

God is dead.

The ices are melting free;

The ocean is all the depth of me.

I’m Not Who I Was (School Paper)

When I was 16 years old, I was just budding into a new world. I had issues like any other teenager and needed to grow up. I had to gain maturity over time and, in doing so, I believe I came out a better person. Since that age, many of my traits have changed, such as my values, my beliefs, and my character.

My beliefs as a teenager were likely the most monumental change that occurred in my transition into adulthood. I was raised in a strict Christian household, commuted to church twice a week, and was even enrolled in a private Christian school until 8th grade. This, of course, developed in me a strong belief in the Christian religion; however, my faith was tested upon attending public high school. In my 11th grade English class, we studied creation stories: those found in Greek mythology, Native American word of mouth stories, as well as the Biblical account of creation. “The World on the Turtle’s Back” was one of my favorite creation myths of the Native Americans. Being exposed to this knowledge of an array of other people with their own unique beliefs and virtues allowed the opportunity for questioning and exploration into many other religions and ways of thought. Along with discussing these stories in English, my Biology course opened my eyes to the nature of humanity in studying evolution and learning more of the age of the earth. I came to appreciate science more and more with each day and found enjoyment in reading books on origins of life. Books such as The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins, as well as A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking were excellent sources to quench my scientific inquiry. This interest in gaining knowledge and understanding led me to pursue a path of questioning myself and the world around me.

Today, I consider myself to be a spiritual person, more in tune with my surrounding nature. I developed an appreciation for all things religious, yet hold no firm belief of my own in any particular stance. That is to say that I am now more open-minded to learn of others’ personal beliefs, and neither reject them nor deny them their validity. I feel free and fluid in my spirituality, and quite enjoy talking openly about it when anyone finds interest.

My values have also changed quite a bit in the last 5 years. With few monetary responsibilities, I abused the little minimum wage earnings I had, spending more than $5000 on Amazon in high school. I valued my money, but in a way that happened to be very irresponsible and unnecessary. My father paid for my guitar lessons at the time, and I took my talent for granted. I practiced much less than I should have or, often times, not at all, and progressed much more slowly in developing my skill. I also took my time for granted, spending it doing activities that hindered my time with close friends, leaving my appreciation for them to grow stagnant.

At age 21, I am picking up my guitar once more, learning to write my own songs, paying for my own lessons, and being more responsible with my time as well as my money. This has inspired a passion for music and a growing appreciation for the art of writing my own lyrics as well as the sounds that follow. Along with having moved out recently, I am more monetarily stable in paying my own bills and saving for recreational desires. On top of being more of an adult, I have rekindled friendships and hope to continue making lifelong relationships.

Lastly, my character has grown dramatically. In my teenage years, I was a gullible person, a selfish friend, yet still a follower of my group. I was quick to judge, but easily fell into manipulative friendships. I tended to ‘go with the flow’ to fit in, and never really gave myself the chance to just be me. In recent days, I am prone to keep an eye out for negativity, and am now closer to a leader than a follower, making decisions along with a group of friends or coworkers instead of allowing myself to stay complacent. I have certainly grown in maturity over the last few years; however, I am still working on becoming a more selfless person. I feel that I now have the determination to be a man of my own respect.

In the past, I abused my income, took my friends for granted, neglected useful talents, and held a very closed mind. I also had no goals for my future or career, wasting most of my time in a video game or a bad habit. My outlook on life was bleak and terrifying. Today, I am responsible, appreciative, and quite open to endless possibilities, setting goals and expectations for my future, and doing my best to meet them. I hope to someday make a living writing poetry and short stories, and am already delving into a novel work that I plan to finish before my fourth year. I have surely changed as a person and will continue to grow in moving forward.