A Very Different Place This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   The temperature changed when you walked into my grandfather's house. It didn't gethotter or colder, but instead it seemed to be perfectly neutral so that youdidn't have to think about it. Then again, that's the way everything was atPapaw's house, nothing to worry over. For instance, I cannot recollect a singledrop of rain ever falling on his roof. Sure, it rained in other places andwithout a doubt the house had been rained on, but absolutely never when Papaw andI were spending time together.

Almost before I finished opening thesliding glass door at the back of the house, a familiar voice called out thecomforting phrase in a Southern accent, "I'm o'er here in the greenhouse,Tyler." After a trip through the backyard and across the sole wooden plank,the temporary bridge that spanned the canal behind his house and led to thegreenhouses where my grandfather spent a great deal of his time, I opened thedoor and stepped in, entering an almost new world.

Anything mygrandfather wanted to do, he did well, and planting was no exception. That day,Papaw seemed somewhat discontented for the "pesky armadilla," as he putit, had gotten into his crops. A raid of our foodstuffs, smart, very smart, butwe would not have it! Immediately we walked back over the plank, hurried acrossthe backyard where my lookout post, or swing set, was strategically placed, andwent inside the home base. Papaw and I knew how to handle the situation - afterall, he had survived World War II and I was his grandson. We had to pack heavyartillery to fight this formidable foe.

Papaw got down the BB gun andpassed it to me. As a mature young man, I naturally held the gun in case thearmadillo showed his ugly face. We headed out to the woods behind his house andstarted searching for the hole since all armadillos have holes. Papaw signaledfor me to hush and we both heard the armadillo's quick retreat through the brush.I held my position and took cover, as the sniper of our team, while my partnerdistracted the 'dilla. All I needed was one shot, one good shot, and it would godown. Unfortunately, my aim depended a great deal on luck, which wasn't on ourside that day, allowing for the critter's escape.

Papaw turned back andexpressed his optimism, "Ah well, he can't run forever. Let's go insidebefore it gets dark." He always had a knack for putting my thoughts intowords. I chimed in, "Alright, what are we gonna have for dinner?" Myheart skipped a beat when I realized the intended meal was pot roast. In theSouthern tradition, pot roast was only served at special family dinners or bigoccasions, never simply for the enjoyment of an older man and a young boy. BeforeNana had passed on, she had always taken pride and satisfaction in thismasterpiece of flavor. The dish itself took minimal time to prepare but requiredseven hours to cook.

Once we got to his house, Papaw immediatelyattended to the roast and other household tasks. My energy was entirely focusedon the kitchen and dining room table, which were in fact the same entity. Thetable's grooves, weathered and rough, teased my fingertips while my hand analyzedits surface. My attention was drawn to a leg, which, despite the wear and tear ofyears, still maintained its strength and served our household well. From whatPapaw had told me, this table was 100 years old and still in use, which says alot about our family's respect for heritage. However, furniture of this naturewas not uncommon to his house.

"Dinner's ready," mygrandfather's voice shoved me out of my daze. He crudely placed the largecasserole dish on the table. Papaw had made a masterful pot roast for my benefitbut, of course, he would never admit to any flattery. When he caught me staringblankly, due to my enveloping fatigue, at the plate full of beef, potatoes andother vegetables, he looked at my dreary face and softly demanded, "How doya like it?" Taking the hint, my fork provided my mouth with a taste of thepassion and heritage that had produced this dish. It was good, very good. Butunfortunately, my lack of zeal had deterred him.

"You know, yourmama can sure make a good pot roast," he said. Without thinking, mysubconscious took over and my response was out of place andawkward.

"Yeah, she tells me she learned it fromNana."

Immediately, a pain in my stomach ailed me, yet, at the sametime, my mind told me to vigorously consume in order to prevent furtherheartbreak. He couldn't find the words to respond, but his eyes told meeverything. His eyes, staring through a wrinkled frame, shined light upon hissoul, revealing his shaded inner emotions. Their stare consumed my existence,producing a large crack from within my rock of ages. The temperature lowered witha threatening yet languid pace, making the air rigid and icy, until Papawpainstakingly pushed the issue aside with a soft, broken voice that muttered amerely deterring suggestion, "You want to watch some TV beforebed?"

As night gradually fell, Papaw's land transformed into a verydifferent place riddled with the sounds of crickets, raccoons and the unseen. Thesliding glass doors could be shut and locked but no curtains could fully mask theglass. The doors no longer provided a vision of the backyard and canal; rather,they embodied the dark unknown to form impenetrable walls of black.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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