Grandma's House

by J. Edward Tremlett

It's wintertime once again Time to pack up the car (dry little brother's tears, "how will santa find us?" he asks to which father replies: "He will.") Time to say farewell to friends. Time to set affairs in order, bills in letters set into the mailbox like coffins. Time to go to grandma's house for Christmas We have done this forever, or so it seems. Each winter since I was born, swaddled in blanket and plastic diaper, past the town, past the city, past the dark, sawtooth mountains and into the forests where father, to hear him tell it, traipsed all over when he was a mere lad of twelve. Sometimes he gets this old and faraway look, when he looks at Tommy. Sometimes I wonder when he'll tell him why. Here, past the forests with their blackened trees and twists and turns, babbling brooks frozen and glazed like the eyes of marketplace fish, here where the wind never reaches, cut apart by the sentry trees here There stands, by a black and towering sawtooth hill, an old house. It is grandma's house, hewn from tree and stone more than two hundred years past. It has been here since forever. It has always been here for me. And Grandma waits for us, inside. Inside, she waits, offering warm, fuzzy sweater hugs and chilly kisses and chewy cookies straight from the oven. She's so happy to see Tommy. Oh my how he's grown. She picks him up off the floor and hugs him, whirling him around just like grandpa used to do to me. I miss grandpa. But he got sick and couldn't get the help he needed. (That's what daddy said, then) So he stayed home, and one day Grandma called to say he's gone back. Gone under the ground. Gone away. Gone, but not forgotten. Daddy is getting that faraway look again, and mommy is holding his hand as Grandma takes Tommy to the basement "Grandpa wanted you to see this when you were old enough," she says. And I stand, and wait, watching snow fall on a castle in a crystal ball. And I wonder if Grandpa will like Tommy.