She’d say, “Y’alls just a bunch of dumb ass kids who don’t know a thing.” We heard that a lot from Granny. Said we were stupider than day-old possums and twice as ugly. Momma was her least favorite daughter-in-law and talked even more hateful to her. If that was possible.
Momma said to ignore her, that Granny was just a bitter woman with no husband or friends. She told us, “That ol’ lady is going to have to meet her maker one day, and may the Good Lord have pity on her soul.” I don’t know how anybody could show her pity. Most old people have lines on their faces, but that woman had permanent marks between her eyes like somebody kicked her, and her mouth was all squinched up like she was always sucking on lemons.
We had the misfortune to sleep over at Granny’s house whenever Momma had to work too late. Our fearful tears didn’t prevent the stay even though I told her how my cousin claimed Granny gave a pretty hard swoppin’ when she was mad, but Momma had no other choice. She didn’t want to leave us there since Granny didn’t like us any more than she did her. Said she never understood why her son married such a woman.
Granny would come outta her bedroom if she heard giggling in the living room, a wire flyswatter in hand, all three of us piled together on the ancient fold-out couch. Strands of white hair hung loose and sprung out in spikes from her temples, the rest otherwise matted down with sweat from an exasperating evening with us.
It was frightening when she let down her braid at night that was normally twisted up on her head. A long, thin layer cascased in lank waves down her back. The snowy color reminded us of a witch from Grimm’s fairy tales instead of a sweet lady who baked pies and sang in the church choir.
The fly swatter, an instrument of discipline, swung at my little brother’s head. A tiny squeal leached out of his mouth, his eyes wide in horror. I laughed my nervous laughter, uncomfortable and wondering if I was next in line for a swopping.
A lightbulb flashed in my brain, and I knew for certain I wasn’t as dumb as Granny thought. I stood up on the matress and stepped cautiously toward her. That crone’s right eye wrinkled into a squint, giving me the stink eye to beat all looks. I reached out and hugged the old bitty.
She shuddered like no one had ever touched her before. I toppled back down onto my brother and sister when Granny shook me off. She turned around and shuffled back down the hall to her bedroom, that eye still all puckered up at me and suspicious. Showed her I’m not so stupid after all.
(image – newegg.com)