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Tommy, Three Years Old.

Every time he sees the old lady, she is wearing her velvet green housecoat, zippered up to her neck. Sometimes she has teeth and sometimes she doesn't. Tommy thinks she grows them then pulls them out. He thinks she makes jewelry with them, necklaces and earrings. She has never told him that.
She always walks slowly, hunched over, arms outstretched to him, her fingers like fallen twigs from a tree. "Oh, you're here again, my boy. That's good. So good. You've been gone so long." When she finally reaches him, the smell of something takes his breath away like the smell of Daddy's Aqua Velva does or when Momma is spraying the Lysol and he thinks that he has swallowed the taste and he can feel it pulsing through the veins in his neck, choking life from him. Yes, Grandma smelled like that. Life going away.
Her weak arms would wrap around his shoulders. Her body would push close up against him and he would feel her thin limbs and the surprised softness around her middle.
She would pull away to brush her lips and breathe her lifelessness on his cheeks. It would take everything inside him to hold back his tears of disgust.
"When will your Mother be coming? I am almost dead." Sometimes she does this a few times a day. Aunt Ru says that his grandmother doesn't even know the day of the week or the time ever.
Neither do I, Tommy has told her, but he knows when he has just seen someone a few hours before.

Tommy wants to go home, but when he sees his father on Sundays, that is church days, he says, "Not yet. I have to work. Mom's still in the hospital."
Tommy is happy to see his father though, even with the bad news, but he is never happy at church. It's really boring to watch some old man in a long dress, who sounds like he's giving you trouble, for hours and hours and...Tommy usually falls asleep staring at the windows. He likes the one where you can see Jesus' heart bursting out of his chest the best.

Every night after supper, Aunt Ru pours Tommy a glass of strawberry Kool-Aid and they go outside and sit on the porch. Aunt Ru makes the drink the best. Momma doesn't. Momma's is gross. He never drinks it, but sometimes uses it to make puddles out in the backyard. He always tries for three glasses with Aunt Ru, but she never lets him have more than two. Then he has to go to bed in the purple room, the room that used to be his cousin Cheryl's, but Cheryl doesn't need it anymore because she is gone. Tommy doesn't know where.



Comments

Morgan said…
Wow. That's all, just wow.
Juner said…
Sounds like our weekly visits with my 97 year old grandmother. Except she always tells my daughter that she is going to die. Soon. Alex (bless her little weird heart) says "Grandma, we're ALL going to die you know!"

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