Crumbling – Stephen Ground

I flick the switch, washing the kitchen in cold light – the fork freezes between his lips and the empty pan of Nana’s apple crumble. Never garden-variety, this one had been special: the last baked by her gnarled, loving hands, in her kitchen, in the musty little condo where she lived my entire life. I know because I found it in the freezer, date of birth scratched on a bluebird label, while me and my sister boxed her things. Three days old when she didn’t wake up.

I snuck it out while Beth sorted cozies.

My family would’ve descended into civil war had its existence become known beyond my marriage, but I deserved it. I was Nana’s favourite, her sweetest little angel – never spoken plainly, but she implied it, I’m pretty sure. It was all I had left of her, and he’d betrayed me. He knew I savoured spoonfuls when the paperboy carved my hydrangeas, or Beth called to brag about participant trophies her snot-nosed kids “won” in their extracurricular du jour. Yet he’s hunched, naked, cradling my sweet crumble – the last of its kind.

His eyes meet mine, and he lifts the remains of my inheritance to his crumble-crusted lips. I kill the light, returning to bed with a dilemma: the vinyl, or the Vette?

I sleep on it – after waiting for him to pass out, then shaving his eyebrows.

Stephen GroundStephen Ground holds an Honours degree in Theatre and a Certificate in Community Arts from York University. A founder, writer, and producer with Toronto-based collective Pearson House Films, he has two projects currently in post-production. Find his fiction in The Esthetic Apostle, Sky Island Journal, Flash Fiction Magazine, The River, and others, or at