Flash Fiction 1st Place: The Day After Mama Left, Jenna Gave the Teddy to Dad, Saying Teddies Were Frickin’ Cuddlesome and So Was He by Sharon Boyle
Pete and Jenna have different versions of the day Mama left. He remembers bits and she remembers pieces. When Jenna says Dad woke in a decent mood, Pete says no, Dad came out of the bedroom in a grouch.
Pete says Mama was in the back garden, supping beer dregs from the night before, claiming she didn’t want to be in the same house with a husband who was as useless as a frickin’ teddy-bear.
Jenna remembers rummaging in Mama’s wardrobe looking for something, anything, to wear to the carnival and listening to Dad in the bathroom muttering that he was much more useful than a teddy-bear. She found a gold shimmery blouse to repurpose as a dress.
Jenna’s carnival memories: gorging on ice-cream; whirling on the waltzers; being sick; crowning of the carny queen (regally gorgeous); Mama and Dad pitching up and rowing over her flirting with Marty.
Pete’s carnival memories: gorging on ice-cream; running races, winning nothing; crowning of the carny queen (girly jerk); Mama and Dad pitching up and rowing over Dad losing his job.
Jenna says Mama found Marty, dragged him to the shooting arcade and laughed, I’m gettin’ that teddy for you. She watched the scene unfold: Mama hitching the gun and aiming at ten tin side-on rabbits; Pete glowering at Marty who smirked under his moustache; Dad’s face cementing as he came to stand by Pete. And it came clear to her – Mama meant the teddy for Dad.
She lunged forward, grabbed the gun and aimed for those pesky rabbits like she was Elmer Fudd, ping, ping, ping. Mama, shocked (Pete) or smokin’ mad (Jenna), tore the shoulder of Jenna’s blouse-dress, yelling that Jenna was an awkward kid who was never grateful for anything. Dad waded in and the two of them had a big ol’ cartoon ding-dong in front of everyone.
Pete says it was over quickly, that Marty broke it up. Jenna remembers just shooting and shooting till the last rabbit went down and the arcade man tossed her the teddy.
On the way home, Pete remembers Jenna saying, Mama should marry Marty and frickin’ vamoose. He has always blamed Jenna for Mama leaving even though Jenna says Mama threatened to do it many times.
They both agree Mama made a fuss that night with her kisses and love yas, before skippy-jumping into Marty’s car, her nose wrinkling at gasoline fumes. Jenna remembers Dad stayed silhouetted behind the bedroom drapes.
Pete stood on the steps in front of Jenna so won’t remember that when Mama waved a hand out of the departing car, Jenna raised an invisible gun and cocked her finger, ping, ping, ping, grateful to see the back of the peskiest tinpot Mama in the world.