Sam Price lives in Philadelphia, PA.
2 flash stories by Sam Price
On My Mother’s Side
Sisters and brothers start dying off. Most husbands are already dead. Though women usually live longer, the sisters are prone to substances, fast driving, or have attached themselves to men who get violent, accuse them of insanity, own handguns. The brothers drink and smoke. Sit around on holidays drinking and smoking and speaking of lost brothers and delusional exes. Mom and dad are long gone. Dad's dead and mom's been in a retirement facility so long they stopped visiting. One day soon a procession to bury her beside her husband will halt their lives briefly, only for them to resume feeling different but with no actual difference but one less check cut a month by the wealthiest sister, of which she barely notices but holds against her other sisters. She does not expect anything of her brothers and does not wield it in the name of guilt against them.
One holiday ends with the living brothers and sisters climbing stiff-kneed into their SUVs, their children grown and gone, no limp, dead-tired bodies that need to be carried to the car. They drive home where single lamps are lit in living rooms to give the illusion to potential thieves that someone is home, alert, waiting for them.
And My Father’s Side
Dad stood next to his green Ford Escort in a suit. I wasn’t used to him dressed like that, but he was going to bury his dad. I was eight or nine and wasn’t going. I looked at him in his suit and tried to imagine him crying. I thought of him alone, along the highway crossing Pennsylvania into the farmlands of Ohio, but was still unable. He was stoic, unshakeable.
Twenty years later it was his turn. The house and the garage were sold and full of other people, their stuff. He lived in a second-floor walkup apartment with my mom. He was unsteady going up and down the steps, sick from the chemo and his brain changed by the tumors. I’d walk between him and the ground but if he fell chances were we’d both go down.
I dredged up that old memory of him in that garage in our nostalgia-riddled, last-chance death talks. I said how hard that must have been for him, and that I wish I had gone with him. He told me it was hard, but that it hadn’t been for his dad. His dad had died when he was much younger of his second heart attack. That funeral was to bury his mom, my dad said. He didn’t judge me, my unfamiliarity.
Later, after some grieving, my mom put it this way. His dad lived until fifty-two, and your dad lived until sixty-seven, so you should get fifteen more years on top of that. I imagined passing away at eighty-two, after a long, productive life. Of course the funeral was mobbed with press.