Holographic + Grandmothers
I want to coin a term. I think that’s all that’s required. I just say those magic words and it belongs to me, right? I don’t need to find some printing press to mint it for me or anything, do I? I’m pretty sure that’s legally ironclad. Anyway I want to coin the term “idea length”. I googled it and all I could find were typos where people meant “ideal length”, as in what’s the ideal length of pier I should choose if I want to take a long walk?
Idea length is basically an intuitive gauge of how long an idea will remaining interesting. There are four standard units for measuring idea length: chapters, paragraphs, sentences, and bumper stickers. Axiomatically, a deci-sticker length idea would be worth one tenth of a bumper sticker:
Conversely, a mega-chapter idea would need hundreds of books to contain it. This doesn’t mean that ideas can’t or don’t get stretched or compressed beyond their natural resting length, after all it’s possible to slow the speed of light, or indefinitely stretch the length of time between meals by sustaining yourself on Slim Jims, it’s just not the best idea to do so.
This concept of ideal length (Il in SI units), is a filter which I run motif combinations through while I make up my RFF story each week. And now I feel torn. I want to please my imaginary audience with a story about the Hecto-Granny, but my intuition is telling me that the idea is barely 4 paragraphs long. I don’t want to make my audience sick from a diet of literary Slim Jims, but it’s also kind of what RFF is here for. To fail, and to do so gloriously!
So here you go, this fanfic is for the fans!
Holographic + Grandmothers
It could have been worse. She could have been surrounded by fluorescent lights and separated from strangers by a thin curtain. She could have been knocked out on painkillers and blissfully distant, carried away from us on a slowly receding tide of sedatives. She was in pain, that wasn't ideal, but she wanted to be present and so she was.
My younger sister stepped back from her bedside and it was my turn. My turn to say goodbye. We were always so close to our Gran, to the point where friends and acquaintances had found it peculiar, but we would brush aside their comments as jealousy. They didn't know what they were missing; Gran was sunshine and warm cookies. No matter your problem, as small as a sidewalk scrape, or as heart-wrenching as getting dumped for the first time. I don’t even think she could be negative, even on her deathbed she was talking about what a blessing it was to be in her own bed, in her own house. It was clear that each rattling breath was sharp and exhausting, yet she moved through the pain and spoke softly to each of us. I couldn’t hear the words, but no one came away with dry eyes.
It’s my turn.
I leaned in to kiss her on her cheek; barely warm and impossibly soft. Planting it carefully among the thin white hairs on her face. Her skin barely moved but the tired muscles couldn't hold back the smile that poured from her eyes.
“I know you…” she whispered.
“It’s me, Gran, it’s Jeremy.”
“Oh, Jeremy. You look so sad.” She took forever to catch her breath, but I could tell there was something else she wanted to say. “You’re going to be just fine.”
Even in her dying moments she was trying to comfort me. Not in an annoying “I’ve got to fix it” kind of way, but selflessly, unconditionally radiating love and attention.
“I love you Gran, I’m going to miss you.”
“Life is too big to ever regret a thing. You can do anything you want as long as you let yourself fail enough times.”
“That was beautiful Gladys, but you’re with us now.”
“What? No. No hospitals!”
“Oh sweetie, do you feel like you are in a hospital?”
“No. I feel light, like I could dance.” She didn’t mean some ol’timey two-step, she felt like she could dance the way a child dances, but they both knew exactly what she meant.
“That’s because you are, Gladys. Light I mean.”
“Is this the part where my life flashes before my eyes?”
An initial burst of information hit her like a quantum of knowledge cold fusing and becoming part of her. It was the whole of human knowledge with yet to be discovered secrets thrown in for spice. “Wow, did you do that?”
“No. You’ve just has your first nano-second conversation with what you would call God.”
“Is this heaven?”
A second quantum collided with her sending off a shower of Higgs-Boson sparks. She understood. This wasn’t heaven. After one’s physical life ended an energetic life began. In 99.9999% of cases the energy shed its human consciousness in the first million millionths of a second. But in her case she was being invited into the collective consciousness of a higher being known only to itself and the thing they once called God. Gladys took her singular place among the fifth dimensions of space, time, and sweetness.
With the cardboard file box of work papers, personal knickknacks, and photographs tucked under his arm. Jeremy hit the elevator button for the ground floor. As the doors closed he had the momentary thought that he would go to see Gran, She will help— but then he remembered and starting missing her all over again.
“Gran, this was my dream job.” He held back his tears to preserve his dignity, but the thought kept repeating.
On the way to his car: This was my dream job. What do I do now?
On the empty parkway as he drove home: This was my dream job. Now what?
As he unlocked the door to his apartment and pushed aside the mail that had fallen through the slot and piled up behind the door: That job was everything I have been working toward.
Slumping down on the old yellow couch from Gran’s house, he released his grip on the tears he’d been holding back, but no tears came. Instead a thought occurred to him, and he heard himself say out loud: “Life is too big to ever regret a thing. You can do anything you want as long as you let yourself fail enough times.”
He said it again and realized he was working the right job, but for the wrong company.