Letting Life Lead
Lilia wrung her hands before she entered the shared bedroom and tip-toed over plastic landmines — Legos, micro cars, dolls, clothes, and wobbling art stacks. She navigated to the bunk bed (cursing under her breath from a stubbed toe only twice. The old springs groaned and the Jenga tower of refurbished and refashioned boxes, tubes and paper plates tumbled. Lilia’s granddaughter and grandson offered a unified hello, but did not stop their furious gluing and glitter shaking.
Their father, her son, had blown-up earlier in the week over the accumulating chaos.
“I know it. What do you want me to do about it, Mom?”
“How about helping them.” Lilia had plonked down her mug too hard and the handle detached where it had been glued before.
“I told them a thousand times.” He’d been rummaging through the fridge looking for cold leftovers to chase the Michelob and slammed the door hard enough to cause the photo magnets to slip.
“Get in there and spend time with them for goodness sa–”
“–I’ve got to work. My flight’s in three hours. I’ll take care of it when I get back.”
“You said that last time, and the time before, and…”
“Mom, enough. I can’t do this right now.”
“Snap out of it … they lost her too!”
Lilia didn’t want to think about the rest of the conversation. There had been unrepeatable words, regrettable accusations, and slammed doors. Merde. I couldn’t have handled that any worse.
“How about we…” Lilia wrung her hands in her lap and turned her sob into a sigh. They children glanced at her a moment then turned their heads down and continued the fevered work.
The younger, Marcus, wiped his nose on his sleeve and tilted his head to whisper. “You’re not doing it right, Grandma.”
Oona poked her brother who jutted his chin defiantly. “Don’t. It makes grown-ups sad.” Oona pouted and crushed crayon fragments in her hand.
“Sometimes grown-ups try so hard to not worry, we forget how to smile.” Lilia mustered the best horrible, contorted grin she could, though she didn’t have dentures to add a layer of ick the way her own grandfather had. “Can you help? I think it’s stuck.”
Marcus giggled first, then Oona who tried to hide hers in her shoulder.
“You have to be the house troll — for Mom.” Oona tied and untied her laces. “Then we clean up and hug. Daddy doesn’t want to anymore.”
“We even mixed up all the puzzles together.” Marcus tucked his legs under himself, bent over, and propped his chin with both hands. His mismatched rainbow socks were littered with construction paper fragments and masking tape. “It didn’t work.”
“He’ll come around.” Lilia stood up and shook out her graying hair. “I come from a long line of house trolls. Beware.”
The children squealed.
...in which I share all the writing. And you will love it, dammit.
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