Grandmother's Story

After her son's suicide, Grandmother has a story to tell.


1. Grandmother's Story

Not knowing why my father killed himself, I wanted to see Grandmother, who had not slept since his death.

Grandmother remained too sick to come to the funeral. Living in a friendly neighborhood, she kept her door unlocked.

After driving to her house, I walked to her bedroom. I stood at her doorway until she told me to enter.

Grandmother looked pale. She spent several seconds gathering enough energy to speak. Grandmother said, “I want to tell a long story, so bear with me. I taught the third grade, as you know. After teaching in the morning, I returned home in the afternoon.

“My house felt quiet in those days, with fewer cars driving the roads.

“The only noises we heard came from children of the family across the street. We hid from them because we feared the man who lived there.

“After working in the mornings, the man stayed home in the afternoons, just like me. He sat on his front porch watching his children play, never playing with them. The man smoked cigars by himself, as if he held secrets of a dark past.

“One day in April, I walked to his porch feeling brave.

“The man glared, as if I owned an agenda.

“I introduced myself, telling him about your four year-old father.

“The man talked about his children, who played many games. He mentioned they disturbed the neighbors, but never us.

“Because the man kept talking about his children, I asked, ‘What do you do for a living?’

“He said, ‘I am in construction.’ The man paused a few seconds. He continued, ‘Let me show you something.’ He stood with his chair swinging. The man took me inside his house, which looked undecorated. Walking to a room with a fireplace, he led me to his cabinet. The man hunched over his cabinet for several seconds, pulling out a gun. Sensing my uneasiness, he said the gun broke. After giving me a glass of water, the man sat down looking anxious. He stared with a serious expression. The man said, ‘I must tell you about the game.’

“Looking at the gun, he continued, ‘My children want to play a game involving your boy and the gun. They place the gun in your yard for him to find. My children guess the location of where your boy hides the gun to determine the winner.’

“I said, with fear overcoming me, ‘Why do you need my boy to not know?’

“The man said, ‘The game requires randomness. It requires your boy not knowing, in order for my children to not predetermine the location of the gun.’

“I asked, ‘If I never spoke to you, would your children still play the game?’

“The man said, ‘Let me give you this.’ The man reached into his pocket, lifting a check.

“I saw two million dollars written in cursive. I stared at the man for a few seconds without saying anything.

“He returned my gaze while beckoning with his check.

“I asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’

“The man said, ‘The game requires consequence. The game required my lie that the gun broke. The game required my second lie that my children guess where your son hides it. Instead, they guess if he shoots it.’

“I screamed, ‘What is the point of money if my children are in danger?’

“The man shouted, ‘Your son is smart, I saw him play. He would never shoot the gun. Your husband would take this offer, enough money to remove all worry.’

“After the man said this, my memory fades. I ran out his house past his children playing outside. Once I returned home, I cried. When your father arrived from school, I hugged him.” Closing her eyes, Grandmother fell asleep.

In her hand, I noticed a picture wrinkled on its edge.

In her picture, Grandmother held my father about the age of a toddler with another boy the same age.

I remained cautious to ask the identity of the other boy, because, in that instant, I knew. I stared at her picture, realizing why my father killed himself. I looked at Grandmother in horror, not understanding how she could mask such an evil act.

Grandmother slept, as if no longer tormented by the demons of her past.

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