My Pap Pap This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 8, 2013
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It's ten o'clock PM in the world surrounding the Kunz's house. My mother is asleep, curled upon the guest bed with my father. My sister's sprawled out on top of the second guest bed, deep in the land of slumber and unresponsive to any outside force. My grandparents are well into following my family in their own bedroom, their dog nestled between them on the gentle pastel-colored sheets. I find myself stationed for sleep in the sitting room, a movie playing quietly, filling the small two-windowed room with colorful lights and my favorite characters. I'm supposed to be sleeping, but something greater is on my mind. A child with an ambitious sweet tooth, my juvenile mind is fixed upon the white-iced, beaming cookies that sit in their plastic container upon the counter. I'm giddy as I realize that, if I were to grab one or perhaps even two cookies, no one would be there to stop me - no one would even realize that they were gone, most likely. I wriggle out from my makeshift cocoon of blankets and carefully slip from the room, padding down the the hall in my bare feet.

Light is filling the door-less room and I freeze, suddenly nervous. The light had been off when I'd been shooed off to bed - surely no one was still awake? I almost turn heel and begin my silent sprint down the hallway to avoid detection, but a voice sings out to me, the unintentional audience. It's a smooth, gentle voice that, at the of first moment of hearing, I can't quite place. It sings, " Oh my darlin', oh my darlin', oh my darlin' Clementine .. "

A smile floods my face and all traces of hesitation seem to evaporate. The voice belongs to my pap-pap. The thought of him propels my feet forward and I peer around the corner of the door, assessing his actions quickly. He's sitting at the small table off to the side of the kitchen, peeling a tangerine under the metal chandelier's light. A bag of the sweet citrus lays on the table, and suddenly, the cookies are forgotten in my mind. He lifts his head and I almost recoil, new to the world of scolding and punishment and not eager to face either at the time.
Instead of a talking-to, my pap-pap smiles, the corners of his warm sun-browned skin crinkling up at the edges of his eyes. Silently, he gestures for me to sit, and I do, hurrying across the slick, clean floor and into one of the wooden chairs just across from him. He sets his finished clementine upon the napkin in front of him, plucking another orange-rind fruit from the confines of its container. He begins to peel it for me, chuckling just to himself before he starts up singing once again. Excited that he's treating me instead of frowning at me for being up past my bedtime, I bubble over, singing with him. I may be too young to know the words, but I can recognize and replicate the smooth melody, attempting to keep up with his grown-up voice. His hands work the skin away from the white-and-orange flesh inside and I watch, amazed. This man was used to rough work, building things and fixing things for anyone that asked, and yet, here he was, performing such a delicate task upon something so small. My pap-pap hands over my tangerine and nods, agreeing that this never happened, we were both in bed, no doubts about it. I squeak and hug him, careful not to crush my orange against his shoulders. He only laughs and shoos me off, not wanting to get either of us in trouble. I only beam and rush down the hall, diving under the mound of blankets that I call my bed, my heart full of pure admiration for the man I feel lucky enough to call me grandfather - my pap-pap.

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