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  • Writer's pictureJay F. Servedio

The Memories

Jeanie stands on the big hill in her backyard, beneath the big oak tree with the swing. And on that swing, swings her granddaughter, Elyse. Jeanie pushes her higher and higher, and the higher she goes, the wider that smile gets. The same smile that Vernon used to have. On the same swing she used to swing on as a girl. The very same swing where she met her husband.

She was twelve at the time. Jeanie would get home from school and swing on that swing for hours. It was during one of those countless hours of swinging that she saw a boy stumble out of the woods behind her house. He had messy brown hair that sat atop his head and eyes as deep and blue as the ocean. He had a stick in his right hand and what appeared to be a poorly drawn map of the area in his left.

“Uh, hello?” Asked Jeanie.

“Hi there!” said the boy with a wave. “We’re exploring these here parts and-” but nothing he said after that mattered or was worth remembering, because the most beautiful girl Jeanie had ever seen walked out from behind the boy. She had the same color hair as the boy next to her, but hers was curly and looked well maintained. She had eyes so grey they might as well have been made of storm clouds. Freckles across a small button nose, and a smile so warm she thought she’d never see another winter. And she smelled like vanilla. Jeanie loved vanilla. She finally heard the boy say,

“-and this is my sister Mabel.” Jeanie got red in the face.

“Hi Mabel,” she replied with a wave and a poorly concealed smirk.

“Hi,” Mabel said back. “What’s your name? “

“GRANDMA!” Jeanie snaps out of the memory and sees Elyse lying on the grassy ground, holding a scuffed-up knee. Jeanie runs over to her granddaughter and scoops her up. She rushes Elyse inside and pops her up on the kitchen counter.

“It’s just a little scratch, sweetheart,” Jeanie tells the crying child. She kisses Elyse’s knee.

“Ye-ye-yeah but it HuUuUuRtEeEd” says Elyse in between whimpers.

“I know, love, but you’re a tough cookie, you’ll be ok.”

“N-n-no I wOoOon’tah!”

“Well… would some ice cream make you feel better?” The sniffles silence and tears stop flowing from Elyse. She looks at her grandmother through her fingers and nods, trying to hide a smile. Jeanie doesn’t try to hide hers and walks over to the freezer. Once she opens it, she spots the tub of Neapolitan… Vernon’s least favorite flavor. And Mabel’s favorite…

While Vernon went away to camp with the high school football team during the summer of sophomore year, Jeanie and Mabel decided to go to the Evening Carnival together. It was there they discovered their shared affinity for the triptych of ice-creams.

“You’ve got the strawberry all over your face,” Mabel said to Jeanie.

“I know, isn’t it just dashing?” Mabel shook her head at that. The girls shared a laugh. Jeanie wiped her face off with her sleeve then looked back to Mabel. “How’s that, then?” she asked with closed eyes and an extra toothy smile. Mabel put her hand on Jeanie’s face.

“You missed a spot-” she punctuated that observation with a kiss. Jeanie kissed her back, and put a hand on Mabel’s cheek.

“I’m glad you stumbled into my life.”

“Me too.” They shared another smile.

“Grandma,” says Elyse, scooping a spoonful of chocolate into her mouth.

“Yes, my love.” Replies Jeanie, coming back from her favorite memory.

“I miss grandpa.” Jeanie looks over to the picture of herself, her husband, and the woman she loved, that sits on the mantle of the fireplace. With a sigh, she said:

“He was a good man.”

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