“I can’t believe it! Seventy years and coloring books have stayed just the same.”
The old woman stood and remembered how she had loved coloring books all her life. She remembered how adult coloring books became a trend at the start of the millennium. They had changed quite a bit actually, she noticed, one could press a corner of each page that would erase the coloring, and the tear-away pages were self-laminating for fridge placement. The ridiculousness of it made her giggle as she put it back on the shelf. She wondered what they would think of next.
“Mama Moose? What’s this?” The girl held up a small box with a picture of nutcrackers on it, “Is it a game?”
“Oh sweetie, that’s a puzzle! Papa Bear and I used to do them every once and a while. He’d always listen to books while we did them, but I never minded.”
She felt nostalgic for those long forgotten days. His smile, his voice. He would have loved it here, she thought, I could never keep him out of a bookstore.
“You know all those pictures on the walls, with the cats?” She asked the girl.
“Yeah the ones with squiggly lines!” She flapped her arms in the air as she spoke, just like her mother and her Papa Bear did when they were excited. The girl always did it when she had a chance to say silly words. Squiggly was her favorite.
“Yes, those are the puzzles we finished together. He and I were busy people but we made it a point to take the time for each other.” She smiled at the girl. How she looked just like him at times.
“Just like Mommy and Daddy?” The girl replied.
“Just like that.” She got down to the girls level, putting her hands on her knees, “You know what, how about we do a puzzle together?”
“Really?” The girl glittered.
“Yeah, really! We’ll hang it somewhere nice. Let’s just find the perfect one, okay?”
She looked at the collection. Many of the ones she liked had cats on them, after 94 years of life she still loved to see a cute cat. She was just about to grab one of these when another one caught her eye. 750 pieces, but the little one could handle it, and it framed itself. It’s weird, she thought, he would still have found the thought of self-framing puzzles endlessly interesting, though most of them could do that for 30 years. No one lifts a finger these days.
“Ahh yes,” she said, “This one is perfect, what do you think?” She hand modeled the woodland scene on the box.
Her grandchild gasped, “Mama Moose and Papa Bear! It’s perfect!”
“That’s right little kitten!” She said grinning, “Do you have all the books you wanted? I think I’m ready to get to work on this puzzle!”
“Mmm!” The girl said, nodding.
“Let’s go, then.”
She ushered the girl out through the front door, not bothering to say a word to an employee on the way out. She hadn’t seen a cash register in 40 years. Amazon, Google, and Apple had made many things possible over the past decades; stealing was not one of them. She checked her watch and her bank account to make sure there was no charging error, and then called the car around to pick them up. It was raining- not so good for the hair.
“Get in, kitten!” She said, and ran around to the other side to hop in. By 94 she had thought moving was going to be horrible, but medicine was better now, broke the bank, but it was better. 94 is the new 54; so they say.
She sat in next to the girl and tapped home on the monitor. The car drove off. The old woman pulled out her tablet and turned towards the girl.
“Wisteria,” she said, “would you like to play a game with me while we ride home?”
“Okay!” Said the girl. She pulled out a collapsible table and moved her seat to face Wisteria.
“Mama Moose?” Wisteria said, looking down at the table.
“What’s wrong, kitten?”
“Did Papa Bear… like me?”
“What? Why would you think that, kitten?”
“It’s just… that he’s gone an-” Wisteria started to cry. She reached out and pulled the girl’s seat around the table before hugging her.
“Shh, kitten, shh. Let me tell you a little secret. Papa Bear always told me, that no matter what he did- no matter how hard he worked, his greatest achievement was your mother and you. He loved you more than almost anything.” She was crying now too; even after two years, it was hard to think he was gone. The bed was so cold, the house so quiet.
“You promise?” Wisteria mumbled as she wiped away tears.
“I promise.” She said, and the two of them started their videogame while the car drove and drove and drove.