Grandpa’s feet quietly shuffled across the porch until the harsh creak of the rocker broke the peace as he sat down. I continued to lay on the porch, tracing the cracks in the floorboards with my fingers. I briefly glanced up, locking eyes with him while his face wrinkled into an expectant grin.
“Oh, don’t gimme that look,” I looked out over the field.
I heard him clear his throat as he leaned back further into his chair,
I sighed, “So, is this when you tell me about you and Grandma and how it all worked out in the end?”
I flicked my head back to him, “What?”
He chuckled, “You already know that story. Nah, this is when I tell yah yours.”
I tilted my head to the right and shot him a quizzical look.
He sat up, resting his arms on his knees and clasping his hands together,
“Once upon a time, there was a lil girl that came runnin’ into the kitchen in tears cause Tommy Witter took a chunk of her hair out and held it up to one a ‘dem brown cows and told her he found her mother. Her grandfather held her in her arms and told her that her mother wasn’t a cow and that her hair would grow back. But that’s not what the girl needed to hear.”
I piped up, “What? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“It will if you let me finish, Bugs.”
I smirked at the nickname, “Alright, old man.”
He gave me the side eye before he continued,
“Now, what she needed to hear was her mother left, and wasn’t gonna come back for her and that her hair was indeed brown like the cow but was nothing other than beautiful.”
He looked to the ground,
“Because hearing that would’ve saved her from at least some future heartache. But the lil girl kept growing despite it. And one day she came boltin’ into the garage, in tears, where her grandfather was working because the hair bleach she bought at the dollar store was burning like a million suns. They went outside and he washed her down with the hose. She was soaking wet from spotted leopard hair to toe. She wrung her t-shirt out, and walked over to give her gramps a big ole bear hug. Her grandfather told her that the dollar store is good for many things, but not hair dye, and her hair would grow back to the way it was.”
“But what she needed to hear was that although the popular Liv Becket’s hair was a beautiful golden yellow like the sun, that her brown hair was the beautiful color of the ole stump in the yard where her grandmother used to sit and laugh watching her play in the mud. And that the sun is a common thing, but that stump there was one of a kind...”
I interrupted his story,
“I’m sorry gramps, but I don’t see where you’re going with this. How does this have to do with William? You know, the boy I’ve liked since the day I met his stupid face? The one who only seems to have eyes for the pretty girls with their flawless blonde hair and…and…”
“Uh huh,” he leaned back into his rocker with a matter-of-fact smile plastered across his face.
“Alright, go on…” I muttered in defeat.
He started up again, “Now, the lil girl was no longer lil, and grew up to be as beautiful as her grandmother was. And one day, while her grandpa was hanging up his wife’s young picture in the funeral home, the girl wrapped her arm around his side and looked up at him with those glistening eyes full of tears and told him that her grandmother was quite the beauty. Her grandpa agreed and told her that’s where she gets her good looks and locks from.”
He looked off into the distant field, “but what the girl needed to hear was she not only got her beautiful hair from her grandmother, but her contagious laugh, her horrible cooking skills, and her sassy sense of humor.”
He looked over to me, with a tear forming in the corner of his eye,
“And now the girl is sitting on a porch with her grandpa, listening to the old man tell her a long story when all she really needed to hear was she is perfect just the way she is, and if a silly boy can’t see that, he ain’t worth it. Because he knows from experience that true love is blind and he would give anything to hold his in his arms again, even if her hair was purple, blue, or puke green.”
A smile crept across my face and I pushed myself up from the ground and tumbled into his arms.
He wrapped his arms around her, and she nuzzled her nose into his shirt.
“I think I know what you’re getting at. Thanks, Grandpa.”
“Grandma probably woulda gone about that different, though.”
“And yet we got to the same place, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
She pulled back from the hug and placed herself on the top step of the porch. The sun was just beginning to filter behind the horizon in a bright orange glow. She heard her grandpa get up and shuffle across the porch. He sat next to her on the porch step and looked to the sky. We both sat in silence, listening to the wind make its way through the rustling trees into my hair. It flew to the side in a flurry straight into my Grandpa’s face.
He spat at the hair, trying furiously to wave it away.
“I thought you liked my hair,” I smirked.
“Like I said, her sassy sense of humor,” he clapped back.
Both of us snickered helplessly as the sun slowly slipped below the horizon.
By: Natalie Hegna