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Faded Melodies

“I just need to grab that picture Mom asked for, and I’ll be ready.” Tammy set a loaded duffel bag on the carpet next to her brother, then shuffled down the hall toward Janet’s bedroom.

“What picture?” Frank called after her.

Tammy answered in a muffled voice. “Not sure. Mom told me it’s her favorite, though. Said it’s on her nightstand.”

“Grandpa … where is the music coming from?” Janie broke in, tugging Frank’s sleeve. He felt bad for schlepping the girl around, but how was he to know his mother would break a hip the same day he had his granddaughter?

Just as he was about to say he didn’t hear anything, the first few strains of tinny calliope music tickled his eardrums. His face lit up, and he glanced at his sister, walking back toward the living room. By the time she stood in front of him, music filled the room.

“Ice cream truck!” Tammy exclaimed.

“Oh, boy!” Janie shrieked. “Can we get some ice cream, Grandpa?”

Tammy looked confused for an instant, then embarrassed. “Oh, no, honey,” she said to Janie. Then, handing a faded photograph to Frank, she said, “I meant there’s an ice cream truck in the picture Mom wanted us to bring. Remember how we used to love to chase after it, Frankie?”

Frank studied the picture. It was a square, black-and-white Brownie photo showing two young children standing at the side of an ice cream truck on a summer day, placing their orders. Frank could tell from the surroundings and the blond hair that he was looking at his sister and himself.

“Hey, what happened to the music?” Janie asked.

“What music?” Tammy looked confused again.

Frank looked up from the picture and listened. Far away, a car engine hummed.

There was no music.

Published inFlash Fiction

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