by Sandra Melanson

The setting sun dusted the landscape in rosy hues as four-year-old Katie Hannah skipped through the grass alongside her grandfather. The forest ahead blazed with color. Chickadees warbled in the distance.

"D'you hear those birds, Gampy?" Katie stood still and cocked her head.

"Yes, Sweetness, I did." Willie Hannah crouched to his knees beside Katie.

"See, honey, there they are perched on the branch of that apple tree over yonder."

Katie followed the direction of her grandfather's outstretched finger and giggled, "I see them, Gampy. I see them!"

Willie stood, grimacing from the pain in his arthritic joints.

"Gampy, tell me a story," she said, slipping her tiny hand in his.

Willie stopped in mid-step and looked at Katie. "Who are you?" he asked.

"Gampy, it's me, your baby doll granddaughter. Member?" Katie stared up at her grandfather, then over her shoulder at Mommy, Daddy and Gammy sitting on the front verandah of their house. This must be what Mommy was talking about-Ol'timers.

Willie scratched his neck and shook his head. "Funny, I don't remember."

"Well, I am." Katie nodded, pigtails bobbing on her shoulders. "I'm yer precious lil girl who ya bounce on yer knee. Member? You kiss my booboos when I hurt 'self. You rock me to sleep at night and tell me stories and how much ya love me." Katie spread her arms wide at her sides. "This much," she said. "I'm yer sun, moon and stars and the apple of yer eye."

"Where's my Mommy?"

"Gampy, great-gammy's livin' with Jesus now. You tol me so yerself. Member?"

Willie pushed his straw hat back on his head. "I want my Mommy."

Katie wrapped her arms around her grandfather's legs. "Gampy, don't let the Ol'timers git you!" She brushed away the tears trickling down her cheeks with the sleeve of her sweater. "D'you 'member the time when you looked after me when Mommy and Daddy went to the big city, you let me stay up past my bedtime and we ate cookies whenever we wanted and said it would be our lil secret."

"I did? Funny, I don't remember that."

"We should go fishing again, Gampy." Katie was sure this would get her Gampy to fight those divils, the Ol'timers. Wasn't that what Mommy told her to do?

"Funny, I don't remember that either."

"Well, it's true, Gampy. I swear." Katie formed a cross over her heart. "Look, Gampy, how pretty the leaves are. Autumn's your fav'rite time of year. You tol me so yerself. Member?"

Willie looked down at Katie. "Who are you?"

"I'm your itsy-bitsy spider. Member?" Her dimpled chin quivered as her eyes traveled up her grandfather's tall, lanky frame. "Oh, Gampy."

Willie studied the splendid panorama of nature before his eyes, then stared at the azure sky overhead.  After a moment, he turned his attention back to Katie and said, "Come here, Katie-Watie, and give yer old Gampy a smooch."

"Gampy, Gampy, you're back!" Katie squealed in delight.

"I was away? Funny, I don't remember that."

Katie puckered her freckled face and nodded. "Fer a lil while. Please don't leave me again, Gampy."

Sandra says: I am a para-legal who decided to try my hand at writing. I recently finished my first novel and thereafter wrote two short stories, one of them being Autumn Leaves.

Contact Sandra.