Losing Lydia Grace
Present DayHe no longer believes in anything. He just sits there, in front of his window, staring out at the world with broken eyes. He never speaks. He never smiles. He just sits.
I stare into his age-old eyes and wonder how they became so placid. I know they weren’t always that way. I look down at a black-and-white photograph dated August 1950. He looks so alive in this picture, I barely even recognize him. He’s with a girl. She’s got a face like a porcelain doll’s and a smile so bright a toothpaste model would be jealous.
“Grandpa,” I whisper. He doesn’t reply. He never does.
I stroll over to him and hold the picture in front of his face. “Grandpa,” I try again. “Who’s this girl? She doesn’t look like Granny.”
His eyes dart across the photograph. He blinks. His lips begin to tremble. With a shaky hand, he takes the picture.
“Where did you get this?” He mumbles while tracing the girl’s face with his fingertip.
“In the red leatherback notebook, buried under your bed. I was cleaning up your room, and I came across it,” I reply. “So who is she?”
He shakes his head and runs his fingers through what’s left of his hair. He looks down at his knees and inhales deeply. “The loveliest girl in the world.”
I put my hand on his shoulder and struggle to force down a smile. I’ve gotten him to talk! I’m not about to let him stop.
“Tell me about her,” I say. He glances up at me. He is wearing a dubious expression on his face, watching me with hard eyes. His lips pull together in a straight line, and he tilts his head slightly.
“What is it to you?” He whispers. “The girl’s not your grandma. It’s not a story you’re going to want to hear.”
I shrug. “I knew Granny ‘till I was three. Everything else I know is what other people have told me. I never really bonded with her, Grandpa. Whatever you have to say about this girl, I can assure you, it won’t bother me. In fact,” I take a seat in front of him. “It will fascinate me!”
He caresses his head in his hands and rubs his cheeks a few times. Then he turns to me again. “You’re nothing like your grandma, you know.”
I blink. Most people tell me I’m just like her. “Her spitting image,” they say. They tell me that’s why grandpa barely says a word to me—I’m too much like Granny and the sight of me brings on too much grief…
But, apparently, that’s not the case at all.
“I’m not?” I c*** my head quizzically and meet his gaze. His eyes are no longer placid. They are focused on my blue ones and are searching them for something he’s lost. The twinkle glinting in his pupils indicates that his search is not unfruitful.
“Not at all.” I see the smallest hint of a smile forming around his lips. “This girl, here, you see,” He says, pointing to the picture. “Her name was Lydia Grace.”