Agnes rubbed at her swollen left wrist and closed her eyes, as if to shutter out the throbbing.
“What’s wrong, Grandma?” A wide-eyed boy, no more than seven, stood before her, his tiny hands resting on the worn blue arm of the chair in which his grandmother sat.
“Fetch me my heating pad, David. I got a pain birthing in my wrist.”
David ran to his grandmother’s bedroom and retrieved the pad. This he plugged in, and arranged over his grandmother’s wrist.
“Not too hot, child.”
David nodded and pushed the yellow button–warm–which made a satisfactory click in response.
“Oh, that’s better, David,” Agnes said, after a few moments had passed. “You’re a good boy.”
The words filled David with sudden warmth and pride. He smiled.
Agnes opened her eyes and patted her lap. “Come on up, David,” she said. “I got me some scarecrow legs for sure, but you don’t weigh but a minute.” She laughed. “Why I bet that book we’re reading weighs more’n you.”
He climbed into her lap and stroked her cheek with feathery fingers. “Grandma?”
“You reckon that heating pad will help me?”
Agnes frowned. “You got you a hurt somewhere?”
David blinked and pointed to his chest.
“Oh, David,” Agnes said. “There’s two types of pain. There’s a pain of the body, like this here wrist. Then there’s a deeper pain: a pain of the heart. Ain’t no pills nor no heating pad gonna’ take away that pain.”
“We both have a pain of the heart.”
“Yes, David. We do.”
“What takes it away?”
“Only time, child. Time and lots of love.” They sat in silence for a time, each of them lost in the memory of that awful night when David’s parents were killed. Agnes barely had time to mourn her daughter before she began to fight for custody of David.” She closed her eyes again. Lord, help me to raise this child up proper. Every day was full of doubt. What am I going to do? I ain’t got but a first grade education.She’d fought hard for the child, lying to Social Services, getting the neighbor lady, the one with the lawering daughter, to fix up the documents right: High school diploma. A year of community college. The rest–good citizen, a regular churchgoer, model employee–all that, Agnes was proud to say, was true.
“Pain lets us know we alive David. Reminds us to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, like a chocolate ice cream cone.”
“Ice cream doesn’t last long, Grandma.”
“No it don’t, David. But neither will the pain.”
He turned to look at her. “You know what, Grandma? You’re pretty smart.”
Agnes beamed. “Why, thank you, David.” She flexed her wrist experimentally. “I believe I’m feeling better now.” She reached for the book on the cocktail table and handed it to her grandson. “Where did we leave off?”
“Chapter Four.” David opened to the bookmark he’d fashioned from construction paper and buttons from Agnes’s sewing box.
She took the book, wrapped an arm around her grandson and pretended to read the words that swam before her eyes, making up the story as she went along, relying upon the pictures to fashion her story.
And David, following the words on the pages, pretended he could not read, so as to enjoy the tale his grandmother wove.
“Some day, you gonna’ read to me, child.”
“Some day.” And David nodded and snuggled up closer to his grandmother.
For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Cheney at http://hellocheney.blogspot.comgave me this prompt: Write about the birth of something.
I gave SAM at http://frommywriteside.wordpress.comthis prompt: Write the blurb for your current WIP.