Flannel Shirt – published in “Recovering the Self”
This month my short story, “Flannel Shirt” has been published in the journal Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing.
This short story is about repressed grief and the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. Here’s a small taste of the opening:
I had not owned a flannel shirt since I was a boy. Then my wife bought me one for our first Christmas together. When I opened the box, the smell of flannel leapt out. Overpowered by nostalgia, I pressed the flannel to my face to breathe in the comfort of cotton fibers.
“What are you doing?” laughed my wife.
“I love the smell of flannel.”
“I don’t know,” I lied. “I always have.”
I did know. I just couldn’t talk about it. Flannel reminded me of my grandfather. I rarely thought of him now, but after all, he had been dead for fifteen years. Now the flannel brought back countless memories. Flannel had been my grandfather’s everyday clothing. Some of my childhood’s happiest moments had been spent with Grandpa. Despite the age difference, he had been the best friend of my boyhood.
The story is largely based on my own experiences with my grandfather, Lester White. Most of the story takes place at a Ives Lake, pictures of which I posted in my last two blogs. My grandpa always wore flannel shirts. Below is a picture of my grandpa, taken in 1971, at Ives Lake, along with another excerpt from the short story:
Grandpa was kind to all the animals at Ives Lake. Grandma complained when the raccoons got into the garbage cans, so Grandpa started leaving food behind the barn for them. Squirrels and chipmunks were always racing across the lawn; no matter how many there were, Grandpa could distinguish between them, and each summer, I helped to name them. The chipmunks trusted Grandpa enough to jump into his hand when he fed them peanuts, and he taught me to hold my hand just right so they would equally trust me.
One summer, a pigeon broke its wing. Grandpa was afraid a wild animal might catch it, so he built a cage and kept it safely in the house. For two months, Grandpa and I cared for the pigeon and walked it around the yard while its wing healed. When it recovered, the pigeon started following Grandpa and me instead of eating with the other pigeons.
In the evenings, Grandpa and I finally found time to go fishing. My favorite fishing hole was a giant rock that jutted out into the lake. Grandpa helped me catch my first fish, a ten-inch trout. But neither of us were good fishermen, so we rarely hooked anything other than a floating branch; I think the real reason Grandpa went fishing was just to sit on the rock and relax after a busy day.
I can remember my innocent young eyes gazing out across Ives Lake on those evenings. I would hear the soft lap of water against the rock as the wind gently blew, and I could feel the cool breeze that rustled the leaves. Then I would lay my head against Grandpa’s shoulder, content with life.
To read all of “Flannel Shirt,” order your copy of Recovering the Self, vol. 2, no. 3 at http://www.recoveringself.com/.
Besides my short story, the issue is packed with articles on grief, addiction, recovery, interviews with professionals, poetry, fiction, book and film reviews, insights on health and fitness and much, much more! Don’t miss out.