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by Sydney Collins

“Syd, get some clothes on.”
“We’re going out to Grandma and Grandpa’s.” I made a half-step toward my room and then decided not to; I had better things to do. I made a little whine, “Do I have to?”
“Don’t badger. You’re going and if you decide to keep badgering me you’ll have dessert taken away.” I then decided that for my common good I’d better get my dingy pajamas off. As I pulled my shirt over my head I caught a whiff of the disgusting thing; it smelled of sweat and had a hint of that salty tang of blood from the bloody nose I had a week ago. I had no other pajamas; my mother never really bothered with buying me anymore. I guess she figured I only needed one pair. But as lazy as I was and, in a way, as green as I was, I “reused” them. I had idled along; I didn’t want to go and I wouldn’t. I would just sit there and I wouldn’t budge. But that was no use my mom could easily deprive me of T.V., dessert, and other manmade wonders that kids of that age enjoyed. I knew then to prolong our departure I would have to procrastinate in any way possible that wouldn’t seem antagonistic (i.e. combing my hair slower than usual, pulling on my pants at the rate of a snail). While my parents were preparing I decided to pick up one of the picture books on my shelf and peruse the interesting pictures of Eric Carle.
              I didn’t enjoy that particular 45 minute drive. I’d wanted to stay home to see if Camilla would’ve been available for a play date. I remember that particular day, staring out the window at the trees bathed in sunlight. I had sat waiting for that little feeling in my stomach that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The only thing fun was that little feeling I got when I went that bump. But the most fun was when we all whooped as we went over.
              We were passing the pines, a sign that we were nearing the house of horrors. I didn’t want to go, but since I was made to, I would make every minute of it miserable for my dearest mother and father. When we stopped in front of the garage door and my parents parked the car I did what I do best; I was a laggard. I took my five minutes to unbuckle my seatbelt and at least three to open the car door. However, when my dad screamed I picked up the pace.
              The rank smell of mold wafted through the open doorway. I stepped over the threshold and collapsed for dramatic effect. I wouldn’t make it out alive.
“Sydney, if you do not come in this second you’ll have no dessert tonight.” The most unoriginal threat ever, she’d said the same thing one hour ago. Even I could come up with a better consequence. I marched in and demanded my lunch.
“Give your grandma a kiss.” Grandma puckered up. I knew I’d have to kiss her or I’d hurt her feelings. I kissed her on the cheek and then moved on to Grandpa and then resumed my quest for an edible lunch.
“Today we are having turkey sandwiches, and if you do not like that then you will go without lunch.” My mom would never have said this; only my dad could be so cruel.
              I picked at my food in between making faces. Fortunately, my parents were too caught up with my grandfather’s health to notice. I ended up finishing in fifteen minutes, which is two hours in five-year-old time, and asked for a little entertainment.
“Daddy, can I go downstairs and play with the sword?” I threw in some puppy-dog eyes just to ensure a yes. He nodded and said, “In five minutes.” I let my shoulders sag in mock disappointment.
              Finally, Dad motioned like he was getting up and I jumped up.
“Let’s go.” I smiled and skipped toward the stairs. Going down, the smell of mold grew stronger to a point where it was almost unbearable. We turned a couple corners, passed dark rooms, and then reached our destination a.k.a. “the sword room”. I have to admit, my grandparents’ basement always freaked me out. My dad rhythmically moved towards the sword in its sheath, and let me pull the saber out.
“Careful now” I knew that already. I twirled it around, pretending I was a samurai. After about ten minutes I got bored.
              When I try to recall, the rest of the day blurs, but I do remember, as we were leaving, I was calling my mom. I called and called putting up with my grandpa mocking me and finally I shouted, “Stop it Grandpa! Just be quiet!” He stared at me, bewildered. I clapped my hand over my mouth, knowing what I had said was wrong; and on the way out my father scolded me.
              A couple months later, my grandfather had a sudden heart-attack. My father rushed to the hospital and sat by my grandpa all night. We waited and waited for the call that would tell all. Finally, at around 9:00 p.m. my dad rang the house.
“Is Grandpa okay?” I eagerly awaited his happy answer. My father sighed, paused and then replied, “No honey, he died.” I was shocked for a second and then I cried my heart out, handed the phone to my mom, and shouted, “It’s all my fault!” And then I regretted that day I yelled, all the mean thoughts I’d had and I knew that if I’d been a happier, nicer grandchild, then maybe he’d have wanted to stay around.

Sydney Collins