List of the things the story ‘must contain’ at:
Genevieve drove to the mall grinning, like she always did when she was carrying the Polaroid. She and Henry had some nice people take a full roll of pictures of them at the food court. He was always sitting; sometimes she had her arm around him, sometimes kissing his cheek. Today she was alone. She saw the prank on Facebook … she’d get lunch, talk to an empty chair, and then ask a nice stranger to take their picture. And, out pops one of the already-taken pics of them! The looks on their faces never got old for her. She always packed them in the very same order, too, so that she’d always pose correctly.
She struggled a bit getting her walker-type thing out of the trunk. It had wheels and a seat to sit; she knew it had a name, but couldn’t be bothered to remember it. A lot of her friends refused to get mobility devices, not wanting to “look old”. Gennie told them she’d rather be out having fun! She didn’t find the mall kids too noisy or annoying. She’d been one of them, once. Henry had been quite the hell-raiser! She’d never let on to her mother, but that’s one of the things that attracted her to him. So wild, smoking and everything. Who knew he’d grow up to be a police officer? Well, it sort of makes sense – he would know what all the tricks are, wouldn’t he?
It’s too bad he couldn’t be here today. The lady on Facebook had had her partner-in-crime record it from a few tables over. They’d done so the first time, which was fun, but weren’t able to after that. Oh well, what are you going to do? You go out and do what you like anyway, right?
She sat down with her sandwich cut in half and two cups of coffee. That nice James was behind the counter today, the one who was in class with her granddaughter. Emily said that they didn’t “hang out”, so he wasn’t in her social circle. Too bad, James is very sweet, and cute, too. She wouldn’t meddle, though! Girls in high school don’t need matchmakers, they’ve still got plenty of time. Gennie never regretted marrying Henry, but she did think they should have traveled first, before settling down and starting a family. She sighed; then sat.
She picked up her half of the sandwich and started talking. This part was fun for her, too. When she was imagining Henry’s half of the conversation in her head, he always said the perfect thing! This thought made her laugh out loud. She wasn’t embarrassed, though. Henry’s always been able to make her laugh.
“That sounds like the perfect time for a picture!” she thought.
She turned to the young woman who’d been sitting a few tables over, trying not to stare, but also looking like she felt sorry for the lonely old lady. Gennie liked that the girl didn’t just record her to laugh at with her friends. She wanted to give her a REAL story to post! She took out her camera.
“Excuse me?” Gennie asked her as she stood. “I hate to bother you, but would you mind taking a picture of me & my husband?” She smiled as the young woman, looking puzzled, went through her internal debate about getting involved with crazy people. She decided, as most people did, that Gennie looked harmless enough, and that taking the picture would make the crazy lady happy, so why not?
Gennie handed the camera over, stood next to the empty chair, trying not to grin too big. She put her arm around where Henry’s shoulders would be if he were really there. It didn’t need to be exact, but she felt that it was – she’d done it it real life so often, she knew right where he’d come to. CLICK. Oh, she could barely keep a straight face!
She went to stand next to the young woman as the picture popped out. Even though the look of amazement and disbelief on the pranked person’s face was so very similar, but each time seemed remarkably fresh, too. Gennie was sure that if she let the startlement & amazement wear off, the people would figure out the “how” of the prank themselves, but she also delighted in the ‘reveal’. She laughed as she explained about pre-taking the photos, and the woman laughed along with her, telling her it was “a good one”.
As the woman walked away and Gennie sat back down, one of the employees of the pizza counter gave her a thumbs-up. Another young woman, one who used to be a little girl that Gennie had baby-sat.
After giving Gennie a thumbs-up the woman at the pizza counter turned away quickly so that Gennie wouldn’t see the sad look on her face. She refilled an already almost full napkin dispenser while she spoke to another of the employees. “How’s her hubby? Is he still hanging on?”
The other pizza employee, Luke, had parents that were friends with Genevieve and Henry. “Yes. Still in his coma. She doesn’t visit anymore … the visits started getting fewer & fewer a couple of years ago, and stopped completely last fall. I keep trying to get Mom & Dad to drop by her house, check out her living situation; you know, see if she’s doing ok. See if she could use some help. They don’t want to drop by uninvited, it would be rude. You know old people, they don’t want to interfere. I may stop by myself one day; bring one of Mom’s pies or something.”
“Do you think she talks to him when she’s at home, too?”
Luke looked out to where Gennie was eating her half of her sandwich. “I try not to think of it at all.”