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Call it a Draw?

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The sun shone on us as brightly as one could have imagined, yet the air was still cool. The smokey sweet scent of your cigar is forever etched in my memory. I watched the smoke trail out of your mouth, flying freely to the sky, swirling, doubling over, twisting -





then disappearing.

~~~~~



"Ellen, I'll tell you what. We'll have a drawing contest! Whoever can draw a camel the best, wins."

He said those magic words. Grampa challenged me. He challenged me with unsurpassed coolness nonetheless, delving deep down into his well of ego. Wanting to pull him out of that well, I accepted the challenge, matching his tone to the T.

Collecting printer paper and a handful of pencils from inside of the house, I slid the clear sliding porch door open, making sure not to run into it as I had before. I could still hear the ringing that reverberated in my head from my last run-in with that eternally spotless door.

Sauntering over to my chair, I dumped my armful of art supplies onto the table. As serious as cancer, Grampa and I set about our tasks, dutifully sketching out the camels as carefully as possible.

As everyone could clearly see, I had won, but he insisted otherwise, bribing all of the cousins to take his side.

"Well, of COURSE they would take your side, you're GRAMPA!" I countered when he pulled his whole, All-of-the-Cousins-Liked-Mine-Better act.

The entire rest of the trip the two of us argued over who had won the test of skill. The day I left, the last thing I said after being released from his giant bear hug was, "I still think that I won, Grampa."

"We'll call it a draw," he said, winking.




When we left, I was still remembering his wink.

~~~~~~~



Then you were gone. The universe had opened its giant gaping jaws and snatched you from us, leaving a whole in your exact shape. Exactly one month after Christmas. Exactly six years after my other grandfather died.

"Ellen. Grampa passed away early this morning. He died in his sleep." The car's silence held the words "passed away" as if it was a ravishing dog with teeth sunken into a scrap of meat that was threatened to be taken away. That dog was so hungry. That silence was so unbearable.

Silent sobs shook my body- this wasn't fair. IT WAS A DRAW- WE HAVE TO SEE WHO WON. YOU CAN'T JUST QUIT. YOU CAN'T.

I went up to my room when we got home. On my wall, was the camel picture I drew. I stared at that picture for a long time, not knowing what to think, yet thinking all the same. I remembered the smoke, climbing higher and higher into the sky, then vanishing, vanishing into thin air.





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mark :) said...
Aug. 15, 2008 at 3:03 am
great work ellen it seemed just like yesterday didn't it
i wish i could write that well too
 
auntie mary said...
Aug. 14, 2008 at 11:42 am
Awesome Ellen! It brought back good memories of dad. I got misty eyed as I envisioned this from the past. I also smiled as I pictured what his camel looked like.
 
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