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Kids Sad

I heard Nana speak, but I didn’t understand what she said. It was hard to understand her because I couldn’t see her face. Her bed was up on a frame too high for me to see over. The grownups all stood above the bed and looked down at her. I figured out where her face was because all the grownups were looking there. I heard Nana asking to see me but none of the grownups wanted to pick me up.

Nana put her arm out over the bed, but the frame was too high and my arms were too short to reach her. I even tried standing on my tippy toes. Nana was wearing her red sweater. I didn’t like her red sweater because it scratched me whenever we hugged. 

Then Nana’s arm flopped back toward the bed. It looked like when I cut the string to make my yo-yo. The string went from tight to loose and it dropped down in my hand. One of the grownups stood next to me when Nana’s arm fell down. I stood on top of his shoes. Then I was able to brush the tips of Nana’s fingers with my own. Her arm swung a little bit, like when I jiggled my yo-yo string. 

All the grownups in the room started crying and yowling. Papa pushed me toward the door and told me to go to my room. Papa only sent me to my room when I got in trouble. I was sad I got in trouble for touching Nana’s fingers without asking. Or maybe I got in trouble for standing on the grownup’s shoes without asking. Papa didn’t tell me why I was in trouble. 

Papa had to open the door for me because the doorknob was too high up. I saw Mama put Nana’s arm back into the bed as I was leaving. Mama didn’t look at me when I left, she only looked at Nana and yowled. 

I wanted to tell one of the grownups to pick me up so I could talk to Nana. I tried to pull on one of the grownup’s dresses, but she slapped my hands. Mama and Papa never slapped my hands. If I asked Mama or Papa, they would have picked me up. I even tried pointing up toward Nana. One of the grownups looked at me when I was pointing up, but he looked away from me. I tried pointing up and up even more. When Papa sent me to my room, I pointed toward Nana. He didn’t pick me up.

I went up to my room like a good boy. I wanted to color. Papa didn’t tell me I couldn’t color. I walked over to my desk and got out my crayons. Nana brought me the crayons the last time she came over. Last time Nana left after lunch. 

Mama left a stack of white paper in my desk drawer. I liked drawing on the white paper better than the construction paper. The blue never showed up on the blue construction paper and the green never showed up on the green construction paper. I hated red the most because it made my blue crayon look purple. If I had to use construction paper, I always chose yellow. I chose yellow construction paper because I liked drawing storms better than sunny days. The only time I needed the yellow crayon was for lightning bolts.

Papa taught me how to count between the lightning bolts and the thunder to see how far away the storm was. At the beginning of the year, Teacher said I was a good counter. She said I was smart because I knew how to count before any of the other boys and girls. I didn’t like Teacher. She made up new numbers when she was teaching the rest of the class how to count. The thunder came every time I reached five, but Teacher said six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. Then she gave us a counting test and I wrote all the numbers. One, two, three, four, and five. She wrote in red pen that I missed six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.

Today I wanted to draw a picture of my family. I took the top sheet from the stack of paper and drew myself in the middle. I used black because black showed up the best on the white paper. Next I drew Papa on the left in blue because he was wearing a blue shirt when he sent me to my room. I drew Mama on the right in orange because she had orange hair. Then I drew Nana to the right of Mama in pink because she brought pink sugar cookies the last time she came over. I ate the cookies that day while drawing with my new crayons. They were very yummy. Nana said they were her special recipe that she wouldn’t even share with Mama. Finally, I drew Pappy to the left of Papa in green because Pappy was always chewing on a piece of grass from the garden. I tried chewing on some grass one day but it was yucky. 

But then I remembered what Mama told me. Pappy went on vacation all the way across the world to the beach. We didn’t have a beach near our house. I learned about the beach from one of the books Teacher read before Christmas. Mr. Santa went to the beach because the North Pole was very cold, and the beach was very warm. Mrs. Santa had to deliver the presents that Christmas. She put on Mr. Santa’s big red coat and got into his big red sleigh and gave presents to all the good boys and girls around the world. I didn’t like Mrs. Santa because she didn’t finish the cookie that I decorated for her last Christmas. She only took one bite and drank one sip of milk. I knew it was Mrs. Santa because Teacher read us that book right before last Christmas.

I hadn’t seen Pappy since he went on vacation, and Pappy wasn’t with Nana when she came over the last time. Pappy liked the beach better than me. I didn’t like Pappy anymore. So I took out the red crayon and drew a big X over Pappy. I put the picture next to my counting test and the picture of Mrs. Santa with a big red X over her. 

When Pappy went on vacation, I asked Mama if I could go with him. I wanted to go the beach to see Mr. Santa and be warm. She told me that I was too little to go. She told me that Pappy really liked the beach. That made me cry because it meant he really did like the beach better than me. When I told Mama that, she didn’t say anything back. 

Then I heard Mama and Papa talking outside my door. I thought they were going to tell me that I couldn’t have dessert after dinner. 

“Don’t you suppose he’s old enough now?” Papa said.

“No, he’s still just a kid,” Mama said.

They knocked on my door and let themselves in.

“Hi, Lincoln,” Mama said. She had a crumpled tissue in her hand.

Papa closed the door behind them. He closed it slowly so it didn’t make a sound. He put his arm around Mama’s shoulder and they both sat down on my bed. Mama sat down on top of my teddy bear.

“Buddy, we’ve got some news about Nana,” Papa said. “You know how Nana is very old, right?”

I knew Nana was old. Teacher gave us a project about our grandparents. We had to ask our Nana or Pappy a bunch of questions about themselves. I chose Nana because Pappy was on vacation. 

Nana told me she was nine-three years old. I didn’t like how she used one of Teacher’s made-up numbers. But even though the number was made up, I knew that the number was big because Nana had many wrinkles. Whenever she smiled, her face made many little smiles. Whenever she frowned, her face made many little frowns. She also had white hair like Mr. Santa and Mrs. Santa.

I didn’t say anything back to Papa because I was waiting for him to tell me I couldn’t have dessert. He looked at Mama and Mama looked back at him. Then they both looked at me and Mama started talking.

“Dear, Nana- She’s going-”

Mama didn’t finish what she was saying. She looked at Papa and Papa nodded toward her. Mama nodded back and turned toward me again.

“Lincoln, you remember how Pappy went on vacation to the beach?”

I did remember and I didn’t like it. I wanted to remind Mama that Pappy left for the beach because he didn’t like me anymore. But I didn’t because she didn’t listen the first time. I turned away from Mama and Papa and put my head down on my desk. Mama told me that turning away from someone who was talking to you was rude, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t getting dessert anyway.

“Well, we have some bad news and some good news. Do you want to hear the bad news first or the good news first?”

I didn’t say anything to Mama because that was what she said when Pappy went on vacation. I chose the good news first but it wasn’t good at all.

“Darling, the bad news is that Nana is going away for a while. A long while. She didn’t tell us when she’s coming back.”

I kept my head down on my desk. I didn’t want Mama and Papa to see me starting to cry.

“The good news is that she’s going on vacation with Pappy. He’s been so lonely on the beach and he’ll be very happy to spend time with Nana again.”

I kept my head down, but I started yowling. Nana didn’t like me either. She liked the beach and Pappy better than me.

“It’s okay, buddy, I know you’re sad Nana’s leaving,” Papa said. “But can’t you be glad for Pappy? He gets to see Nana again.”

I shook my head really hard. I wasn’t glad for Pappy. He didn’t like me, and he took Nana away from me, too. When I shook my head, I knocked my drawings onto the floor. I lifted my head up to see where they went, and Mama picked one of them up. She picked up the one I just drew of everyone.

“Lincoln, did you draw this today?” Mama asked.

I nodded.

“And is this you here in the middle?”

I nodded.

“And is this me here and Papa there?”

I nodded.

“And is this Nana next to me?”

I nodded.

“So does this mean Pappy is next to Papa?”

I nodded.

“Why did you cross him out, Lincoln?”

I crossed him out because he didn’t like me. I didn’t tell Mama this because she didn’t listen the last time.

Papa walked over to Mama and looked at my picture. His eyes got big and he whispered something in Mama’s ear. I didn’t like it when Papa whispered in Mama’s ear. They were telling secrets and I couldn’t hear them. I thought the secret was that I couldn’t have dessert. Mama’s eyes got big and she whispered something back to Papa.

I got up and grabbed my drawing from Mama’s hand. It got crumpled but I didn’t care because it got crumpled over Pappy. I went back to my desk and got out my red crayon. Then I drew a big red X over Nana. I pressed really hard and the paper ripped a little. I didn’t care because it got ripped over Nana.

I put down the crayon and looked at Mama and Papa. They were hugging and Mama was tapping the tissue on her eyes. I could see them whispering to each other. They stood there and whispered for a minute, then Papa turned toward me.

“C’mon, Lincoln, let’s go out for dinner,” Papa said. “We can have a talk after we eat.”

“Yes, I think that’s a good idea,” Mama said. She tossed her tissue in my trash can. It was wet.

We went to the garage and got into the car. When we left the driveway, Mama and Papa started talking about what they wanted to order from the restaurant. I didn’t listen to what they said until Mama turned back toward me to ask a question.

“Lincoln, what dessert do you want from the restaurant? Your choice.”


December 23, 2022 18:17

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2 comments

Eileen Turner
20:07 Dec 28, 2022

I remember when my grandfather died. My parents and sister were crying, so I cried too, but I didn't know why they were crying. There is an age before which you understand death. I think many of us learn through the death of a pet because we are allowed to witness that. Your story flows nicely.

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Jacob Brown
18:47 Dec 29, 2022

Thank you for your kind comment, and sorry for your loss.

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