When I Close My Eyes

Hope Herrington

Even now, when I close my eyes, I hear the rich baritone sound of my grandfather’s voice.  The warmth of his smile melts the coldest of hearts.  His robust laughter brightens the darkest of nights.  The solitary twinkle within his eye alludes to grand adventures waiting to be explored.

It is a warm day.  It is a holiday.  It is Independence Day.  The children are underfoot in the kitchen, which means, I am sent outside to play.  An overzealous child, I often let my curious eyes lead me onward into trouble, which is how I ended up perched atop a fifty-foot mulberry tree.

Quickly, I tuck my shirt into my white pants.   With a slight grin, I pluck the forbidden delectable fruit from the tree.  I fill my shirt, my pockets, and my socks to the brim.  Why, I even stuff my mouth full of the succulent morsels until my rosy cheeks pucker.  A noise, beneath the crown of the tree, wafts in the air.  I gasp and jump.

Peering down through the leaves, I spy a familiar face.  Our eyes lock.  Curling the corners of his lips, he smiles ear-to-ear.  His eyes brighten with merriment.  The man chuckles and slaps his knee.  With the sleight of a finger, he beckons my presence.  An ounce of coy washes across my face as a giggle escapes my lips.  I hide behind an array of branches.  He clears his throat.  I breathe a deep sigh and frown.  It’s time to climb down.

Back at the house, my Nana is livid. My clothing, hands, face, and body are stained bright purple with mulberry juice.  Grandfather raises a brow and winks.  I fill a large bowl with the bounty of my day’s work.  We rinse the fruit in cool water.  Laughing and talking, we reflect upon the day’s events.

In the end, everyone sits down around the table.  We eat the mouthwatering cobbler that we, my grandfather and I, put together.   The smell of the baked sweet treat, of that singular day, still lingers in my thoughts.  His laughter is forever burned into the recesses of my heart, memory, and soul.

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