Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Story A Week: Delicious

Delicious was named after her old Grammy, her Grammy with doughy arms, who smelled of sweat and lilacs. She was nigh on eighty years old, but she could make a mean hash for breakfast from the potatoes in her garden, and a pot roast for dinner that smelled up the house real good. Young Delicious could taste that roast all the way from the bottom of the walk.

Delicious – Young Delicious, that is – loved going to her Grammy’s. She loved coming up to the front porch and hearing the creak of Grammy’s rocker. Loved the way the elms sounded rustling around in the wind. She’d tap her stick around a bit until she found the porch steps. “Here I am, Grammy!” she’d call out.

“Well, look who walked over here all by herself!” Grammy would say, and Delicious would hear the clip-clump of her thick-soled shoes across the creaky boards of the porch.

Delicious would reach up and touch the rough wood, feel the peeling paint under her fingertips. “You need to paint this house, Grammy,” she would say. Always the same. That’s what she’d say. It was like a pattern. She figured if she didn’t say it, Grammy would think she wasn’t herself. Might make her drink a whole spoonful of molasses to get her right again.

“Yes, I do,” Grammy would say, just as if she’d never thought on it before. “Gotta get myself a boy out here to do the painting, ’cause I’m getting too old for the ladder.”

And Delicious would say, “You not too old, Grammy.”

Every time she said it, Grammy acted like it was the most precious thing in the world. She'd laugh, a big laugh, and hug Delicious so that her face was pressed into her bosom where she couldn’t just hear, but feel the laughter – a deep vibration way down in Grammy’s core.

“Oh, honey baby,” Grammy always said. “If only you could see me, you’d see how old I am!” Then, she’d laugh some more, spin Delicious around and take her all dizzy up the rickety porch steps into the house.

That’s where things got tricky for Delicious. She needed her stick the most inside, because Grammy’s house was never the same two visits in a row. Grammy was a changer. She changed her furniture around like most people change their socks.

Delicious stuck out her stick and knocked into something.

“Here, let me take you,” Grammy said, taking hold of her elbow.

“No, Grammy,” Delicious said. She actually enjoyed the challenge. “I can make it. It’s good practice. Like a maze.”

Grammy laughed. “One of these days I’ll really surprise you and not change anything around at all.”

But Delicious knew changing was part of Grammy. Where her furniture sat was the one thing Grammy could change about her life.

“Right back here in the kitchen,” Grammy called, as Delicious made her way – tap, tap, tap. “Then I’m gonna sit you down and feed your little skin-and-bones body.”

Delicious stood in the kitchen doorway with that furnace heat tingling on her cheeks, and the meaty smell of roast sizzling in her nostrils.

The chair scraped over the linoleum when Grammy pulled it out. When Delicious sat down, she crossed her ankles like her ma taught her, and propped her stick up next to the chair.

Grammy chattered. “You heard about Old Man Huff, didn’t you? Fell down the stairs and broke his leg in two.”

“No!” Delicious said. “I didn’t hear about that.”

“Oh!” Grammy said. “I suspected it was all over town by now.”

“Is he gonna be okay?”

“Well, if they can get it straight again, he might walk,” Grammy said. “And if they can keep it from gangrening, he might live.”

“Oh,” Delicious said. “I hope he can walk and live.”

“I don’t care much either way,” Grammy said. “You know, he tried to court me once. Pulled up in front of my mammy’s house in his old pa’s surrey and expected me to ride out with him, just because he was in a surrey. Even though I’d never liked him one minute when we was in school together.

“My mammy, she got so mad at me when I turned him down, told me I’d never find a man as rich as Leonard Huff who wanted to ride out with me again.”

“But then you met Grandpa and married him instead,” Delicious said.

“Yes, I did,” Grammy said, opening the oven with a screech. “Though he wasn’t as rich as Leonard Huff, I sure was happier. Didn’t want a man with a temper, so I got your Grandpa instead. Meek as a lamb. Then again, all your grandpa ever gave me was a puny little girl, probably on account of all that meekness.”

“My ma,” Delicious said proudly.

“Your ma,” Grammy said. “And one little blind grandchild to show from her. Not much if you ask me.” She sucked in her breath. “Maybe if I’d married the man with the temper and the money and not for love – known my duty – God would’ve rewarded me with a motor car full of sons.”

“And a house with good paint,” Delicious added.

“And a house with good paint,” Grammy said wistfully.

Delicious couldn’t see Grammy smile, but she heard the smile in her voice. “But you know what, Delicious?”

“Yes, Grammy?” Delicious said, flashing a grin, because she knew exactly what Grammy was going to say, even though their conversation had never been exactly like this before.

“I wouldn’t do it," Grammy said. "I wouldn’t trade it. Even if I knew about how my life would be now, I would’ve chose the same way.”

Delicious giggled. Silly Grammy. Always trying to fool her into thinking she didn’t love her and her ma, when it was more obvious than a porcupine quill in a mutt’s rump that she did.

There was a clatter as Grammy set the big pot on the stove top. “So, that’s why you follow your heart,” Grammy said. “So even when the paint’s peeling, you still have some respect for yourself.”

“Yes, Grammy,” said Delicious. She picked up her fork, ready as anything to taste that pot roast.

1 comment:

  1. Love this one! "a porcupine quill in a mutt's rump." What an image. Your dialogue is great.

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