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Cold Chicken in the Chocolate Pot
Grandma Grace and I are not alike. At all. She is as plump as cream pie; I am the slim-jim type. She is a cluttered individual, doing five things at once; I am single-minded and neat as a pin. Grandma has never gone a day without her crochet hook; I am allergic to yarn.
Mom says we have the same eyes. I disagree. Mine are the color of sky, hers are made of steel with a hint of ocean surf. Hers sparkle.
Mom says I must stay with Grandma Grace because Grandpa can't walk to the mailbox anymore. Grudgingly I scoot into their museum of ancient artifacts, known as the living room. Why doesn't grandma ever throw anything away? Sheesh. I feel like I'm swimming through family history charts, nasal spray and knick-knacks.
Ashley, zany funny girl, is my cousin. She is there saying "hallo" too. We escape the old people smell to go fishing at the resivore. Turns out to be a splendid day; sunshine memories form as we put our heads to together, talking, and throw them back simultaneously, giggling. We dance the daylight away on adventures to nowhere and everywhere. Our return doesn't happen until after dark.
Grandma Grace's eyes are blue embers when we walk in. Crazy teenagers can't keep track of time. Crazy teenagers can get lost in the dark. Crazy teenagers don't care about dinner. Kids these days!
She says our dinner is in the chocolate pot. She means crock pot, she just boils her chocolate supreme brew in the crock pot on Sunday afternoons. In fact, she cooks almost everything in the crock pot. Her recipe for an average dinner: (1) toss all the expired food in the pot, (2) let simmer for a day, (3) eat, (4) clean pot, (5) repeat. Grandma always has expired food, she never throws anything away. One time I found a bag of marshmallows from 1981; it was like chewing a mouthful of rocks.
Crazy teenagers have to eat cold dinner if they're going to be late. It's a chicken mixture tonight. Gag me. I decline subtly, but the ember eyes ignite, and I'm seeing the azure flames of hell if I don't dish up. Nothing goes to waste in her house. Never. Cleaned off plates are mandatory. My eyes give a flicker of their own; mom says I'm in the prime of my teenage rebel tendancies. Yet Grandma Grace has been using that look for years. I comply and scarf down some cold chicken slime.
2:00 a.m. my stomach decides to try gymnastics on me and does a flip-flop. It tumbles all that chocolate pot crap onto the woman's carpet. Her brand new, shiny as a silver dollar, white carpet.
I'm shakin', because I'm quaked to the core. Grandma heard the spew and bustles in. I avoid the steel eyes; I bet they're colder than an iceberg.
I start to clean, and glance up at my audience. There is no malice or worry in her face; the wrinkles wave instead of pinch. Grandma Grace reaches out for me, and pulls me in stroke my hair. I feel like I'm tucked under my baby blanket with some warm bedtime milk being rocked to sleep. I feel like I've never been so much at home before as I am now, in this woman's arms. I look up, into her glistening eyes and see the reflection of mine; the haze where ocean meets sky clouds my vision.
I just must get emotional when I puke. I'm still allergic to yarn, I tell myself.
Three years later I shuffle and snuffle past a rose-tinted casket and gaze down at Grandma Grace's shell. With her eyelids shut, I wonder what stranger is layed out before me. There is mist off the ocean and tears from the sky pouring out of my eyes. They sparkle.
Grandma Grace and I are exactly alike.