By S.A. Goulding
My favorite place is the living room of the old house. When I was there, I felt happy and safe. I remember Papa would start a fire in the fireplace and find a music channel on the radio. Then he would sit down in the middle of the floor on the big rug. He would pat his hand in front of him, signaling me to come and sit down.
He taught me how to sit Indian style when I was little. We would sit face to face and he would ask me questions. How did I feel? What did I do that was fun today? Did I make any new friends?
Then it was my turn for questions. How tall will I be? Will I be rich? I asked if I would be brave. I remember him answering so many times, “We will have to wait and see.”
Mama would sit in her favorite chair. She would look down and smile at us while she hummed with the music. She would be knitting, or sewing, or reading, always doing something. She never sat down with us. She said she liked it better looking after her men.
That was a long time ago. Today Mama stood in the doorway motioning me to come with her. I did not want to go. I asked, “Can I please stay here?”
Mama’s eyes were sad but resolute. We had to go. She knew it, and even feeling the way I did, scared, I knew it too. Her eyes always said more with a quick look than other people could tell me in ten minutes of talking.
“Whether you want to or not, we have to go.” Mama said holding out her hand for me to take.
I shook my head no. I was six years old, way to big to hold on to my Mother’s hand.
I followed her out of the house. We were walking side by side down the sidewalk, past the familiar houses and stores. We were going somewhere, but I did not know where. I just walked and stayed by Mama’s side.
I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. “Mama, the bad man is out there again!”
I never really saw the bad man; he was a flash going by or a shadow in the shade. Somehow, I could see his eyes. His eyes stared at me. I couldn’t tell if he meant to hurt me or if he felt sorry for me. But I knew he was coming for me and that he was going to get me.
I tried to climb up in to Mama’s arms. I wanted her to pick me up and for her to run away from the bad man.
She pushed me back and said, “Don’t show fear, Andrew. What would Papa think?”
My name is Andrew Carnegie Grangers, but Papa called me AC, Acey. Papa was a brave man. He got killed. He jumped out of a plane in Normandy, some where in France. Somebody shot him. People always told me how brave he was. I missed him.
“If you aren’t going to help me, why are you here, Mama?” I regretted saying that even before I finished saying it.
“I’m here because you want me to be here.”
“Sorry Mama.” I said. I took her hand and we walked on.
“Mama, what if he gets me?”
“If he gets you, he gets you. He gets every one eventually.”
“Even you, Mama?”
“Yes, even me.”
I looked away from the man. I stared straight ahead and kept on walking. I could feel him. He would come up close behind me, almost touching me, but then he would fade back.
I grabbed on to Mama’s hand tighter, but I kept my eyes ahead and I walked on.
I felt the man leave. Mama looked around but she did not see him either. He was gone.
We stopped. Mama knelt down to look into my face.
“He didn’t get me, Mama!”
“Not today, Acey,” her voice was sad. “Not today, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. But be ready Andrew, because it will be soon, very soon.”
Again I asked, “Why are you here, Mama?”
“Because you are sick, Acey, you are not thinking right. This should be much easier. That’s why I’m here, to help you.”
Mama looked at me. She had that smile on her face that said she loved me very much. The smile that said she would always love me and that she would be there when I needed her.
I recognized the building we were in front of but I didn’t know what it was. I did know I had to go inside.
I heard a voice ask, “How long has he been out here?”
“Since breakfast, he came out and sat down in the chair closest to the door. He said his mother was coming for him.”
“It’s sad. Do you know what this guy used to be? And now this.” the first voice said.
“Mr. Grangers.” The second voice called me.
“Can’t we let him sleep? I mean, his mind is so much mush, what is he going to miss?”
“I’ve got to wake him up it’s time for his dinner. Mr. Grangers!”
I was able to open my eyes just a crack; my vision was blurry, “Yes.” I answered.
“You were asleep. Did your mother come?”
My voice was weak and tired, “I saw her today, but she did not come in to get me. She said not today. She said maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. She said I should be ready because it will be soon, very soon.”