The Pips Are Going by Amanda Saint
He loved grapes, especially the ones with pips in, as he liked to spit them at you, from right up close so it hurt. When they changed all the grapes to seedless ones, he got so angry, didn’t eat them any more after that.
Now he’s shrunken against the pillows, like a homunculus. Looks nothing like me anymore.
I stare at the obligatory grapes on the bedside table, red ones - he preferred green. They must not have been there very long as they’re still glistening with water from being washed.
That day he’d pinned me down on the floor so I couldn’t move. His knees in his smart black trousers on my shoulders in my new black dress. Let globules of drool dangle from his lips so they almost touched me. Then sucked them back up. Over and over until I cried. Then he’d started with the grapes, stuffing loads in his mouth and hawking the pips in my face, my hair, he held my nose so I’d open my mouth and spat them in there too.
Dad appeared and walloped him one from behind, knocked him half way across the room. Then he locked him in the bathroom and gave him the belt.
I screamed at the door for him to stop. Mart didn’t mean anything by it, he just didn’t know how to cope with Mum dying.
He never learned to deal with his feelings. Always expressed them through rage, so he ended up in prison. Now he’s here, riddled with disease from all the poisons he’s put in his body and mind.
I pull a paper bag from my coat pocket. ‘Mart, I got you grapes with pips in.’
He opens his eyes, reaches for my hand and squeezes, and for a moment we’re ten again, fresh-faced twins with two happy parents.
Then his fingers slacken and I drop the bag to the floor.
Grapes with pips roll in all directions.
Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Her short fiction has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She’s been longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize and the Ink Tears Short Story Prize; and shortlisted for the Flash500. Amanda founded and runs Retreat West, providing writing competitions, courses and retreats, and Retreat West Books indie press, which publishes short fiction, novels and memoirs.
Twitter: @saintlywriter @retreatwest