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February 7, 2017

Solmon Grundy Waits to Die by Christina Dalcher | flash fiction | #thesideshow

Read by Duncan Stanbury

He knew it would be today. The feeling crept around inside him like that annoying tickle at the back of his throat, surely a sign of the flu, which would turn into bronchitis, which would sink deeper and morph into pneumonia. This was Saturday, after all.

Everything else had happened with the regularity of a Swiss clock: his birth on the first day of the week, his christening on Tuesday. Granted, he had exerted an auteur-like control over his wedding, choosing the grayest and grisliest of Wednesdays for the ceremony. Fate, he explained to his bride’s parents, trumped all.

And now he would die.

Today was not the first Saturday he expected his life to end. For forty-three years, Solomon Grundy had taken matters into his own hands, forcing himself out in foul weather each Thursday morning without hat and coat, searching the town for the least reputable eating establishments (surely one of them would be ripe with botulism or ptomaine), baiting the neighborhood squirrel population in hopes one of the rabid little monsters would bite.

Solomon had no such luck in these endeavors, and being a devout Catholic he could not bring himself to perform the deed by his own hand. But this Saturday somehow felt different. The tickling of the streptococcus had begun on Thursday (which was not only mild, but also mellow), worsened on Friday (beautifully bright and breezy), and now, at ten o’clock on the weekend morning, Solomon lay in bed, hacking away with glorious ferocity.

He called in his children, one by one, to say goodbye.

“Goodbye, Daddy!” little Nancy squeaked.

“So long, Dad!” Solomon Junior added, kissing his father.

The other three echoed well-wishes before leaving the room.

Well, thought Solomon, there we are.

He watched the clock as his wife of many years carried in tonics and chicken soup, none of which Solomon wanted. The hours passed, and with each new tick of the minute hand, death drew closer. He was sure of it.

On Sunday morning (auspiciously baking and blistering), the elder Solomon Grundy awoke to the chimes of church bells and prepared himself for another week of life, which he survived, as he did the remaining five thousand Saturdays. It was his son, five-year-old Solomon Junior, who contracted strep throat on the next Thursday, falling victim to bronchitis on Friday, and dying of a terrible case of pneumonia on the gay and glorious Saturday morning of the following week.


About The Author:

Christina Dalcher writes long stuff and short stuff and nothing in between. Her epic saga of lost consonants in Florentine Italian is available for purchase from Dead Dissertations, Inc. For more entertaining reads, see After the Pause, Bartleby Snopes, Zetetic, and other corners of the literary ether. @CVDalcher

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