From the author: Grandma has gone missing. This time, it may be for good.
After being home for exactly thirty-seven seconds, Char gingerly laid the paper bag filled with fruits down on the kitchen counter and squeezed the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. I can’t even leave for five minutes to go to the grocery store.
"Eddie, who broke all of these dishes?" She called out, still keeping cool.
"Grandma. She said she wasn't feeling so good or something."
"Where is she now...Eddie. Ed.” To which Eddie did not respond.
Deep breath, no reason to yell, she whispered to herself before belting, “EDDIE, WHERE'S GRANDMA?"
"Geez, get off my nuts, would ya, ma! I'm on round 32 on Call of Duty."
Knowing she would get little help from Eddie, Char dropped her shoulders in a sigh before she began a semi-frantic search for her mother, who, at times had a tendency to key cars whose owners cut her off, burn flannels that reminded her of lovers who did her wrong, and get herself into fistfights over what got played on the jukebox at her favorite dive. Char was used to that. She could handle that. But for Grandma to break all of Char’s dishes and rip the curtains off the walls? That was a little out of her wheelhouse.
Char couldn’t get far without adjusting remnants of the tornado that is Grandma. In the hall she picked up the decorative tea table that had been turned on its side. In the beach-themed hall bathroom she rehung crumpled hand towels, and throughout the other areas of the house she kicked her mother’s faded Sturgis sixtieth anniversary, Marlboro Lone Wolf, and Lynyrd Skynyrd tee shirts into a pile to pick up later.
The familiar search and rescue route that Char followed when Grandma got cantankerous turned out to be unsuccessful. She wasn't in her usual hiding places--not looking at old Playboys in the attic. Not listening to Motorhead in the closet. Not smoking weed in the shed that used to be an outhouse. Herb assured Char over the phone that Grandma hadn't been at the Damn Dirty Dog Saloon all day, and that his customers were finally able to play pool without fear for their lives for once. He urged Char to keep Grandma away for as long as possible. “Might not have to call the police in tonight if you keep ‘er at home,” he wheezed.
The garage was the only place Char hadn't checked. Grandma hadn't gone in there for years since the accident when her hair was caught in low hanging tree branches and she was nearly scalped. Although she wanted to keep riding after that, Char had forbidden it because she didn't want Eddie to grow up without at least one grandparent. Surprisingly, that must’ve sparked some remote something in Grandma because she had respected that wish through Eddie’s teen years. But now as she approached the door, Char nearly tripped over the hammer and beaten doorknob resting on the floor. Char reached into her pocket and ran her thumb over the key that she carried with her pretty much anywhere she went. Maybe the key wasn’t what had kept the garage door shut all of these years after all.
She stepped into the cool garage and let out a puff of desperation as the thick aroma of gasoline filled her nostrils and the sound of screeching tires in the distance dragged her back to her childhood. Where the hog used to be was a note with a cigarette tamped into it:
Fuck this town. The Road is calling.
This story originally appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine.