Grandma’s House (where we all find out where this story was going)

This story was told over the course of four days; now it’s all in one place. 😃

Part One — The wind slowed and the rain began to fall instead of sliding across the glass like a sneaky kid stealing third base. Lulu stared out the storm door and wondered if it was really true that standing at a window during a thunder storm attracted lightning. Right on cue her grandma yelled, “Get away from that door! Do you want to be struck by lightning?” Freckled imp that she was, she stepped back while her grandma was watching, but when the old woman’s head turned back to braiding rags to make a rug, Lulu stepped up to the door again. “I can see you, honey. You can’t fool me. I raised seven girls,” grandma chuckled. “Now you mind me and step back from there or I’ll get up and close that door.”

Lulu was bored, that was the thing. She’d been in the house with a cold forEVER. She felt fine. Her cousins were in the cellar, trapped by the rain. She hated them. Once in a while they’d call her on the WW II Army field phone they’d strung from the cellar to grandma’s kitchen. THEY were having fun while SHE was being yelled at by grandma. Everyone was having fun but her. The whole world was having fun but her. It was summer and was supposed to be fun, but it wasn’t. She went to the back room where she slept and flopped down on the bed, feeling very sorry for herself.

Part Two — You’d probably imagine that the next place for this story to go would be Lulu — who really DOES have a cold — flopping down on her bed, falling asleep and having a dream. You’d be right. She DID go to sleep and she DID have a dream, but I have no idea what it was. Grandma, however, hearing too much quiet coming from the back of the house, set aside the rag rug she was weaving, and pushed herself up from the rough, gray chair beside the window. “That girl,” she muttered, shaking her head. “She’s got a mind of her own, that’s for sure.”

She walked across the living room and through the kitchen to the back of the house. Two rooms had been added long after the house was built. There was a room with the wringer washer, some shelves for home-canned fruits and vegetables, hooks for coats and a pile of overshoes waiting for winter. Off that room was a bedroom where her husband of 52 years had spent the last days of his life. From there he could see everyone who came and went and it was easy for people to come in to visit. Now it was the “guest bedroom” but the “guests” were grandkids. 

“Lulu?” grandma said softly pulling aside the curtain that served as a door. 

There in the shining light of a rain-washed afternoon, across the bright-colored fancy quilt, the little girl lay, sound asleep, with her thumb in her mouth. Grandma chuckled and closed the curtain. 

“Now to see about those boys.”

Part Three — Grandma pulled on her pink sweater and outdoor shoes and went out the back door. At the other end of the wooden sidewalk Jack and them had built for her last year was the cellar. Its heavy door was covered with asphalt shingles. When the old man was alive, he spent many summer days in the cellar where it was cool. 

“Let us put up a new door, mom. That old door is pretty heavy.”

“No, no. I manage fine. Don’t go to any trouble.” But the sons-in-law all showed up early one Saturday morning, ready to work, only to learn that if they tore down that door, they’d have to tear down the cellar. That was more job than anyone was ready to tackle. Grandma made them breakfast and sent them home. 

You’re probably expecting grandma to open the cellar door and find the boys smoking or getting drunk on moonshine, but there weren’t any cigarettes (the boys weren’t interested anyway) and certainly no moonshine (good grief!). Instead she found four little boys shooting marbles on the cellar’s dirt floor under the light of the light bulb than hung from the ceiling. When they couldn’t fix the door, the sons-in-law had electrified the cellar. “It’ll be safer for you, mother,” they said. “Just turn on this switch.” They put the switch on the wall inside the door. Grandma thanked them but said she’d done fine a long while with the kerosene lantern that sat atop the shelf by the back kitchen door. She was sorry they’d gone to so much trouble.

“Why didn’t you just call us grandma? We set up the field phone so you could call us!”
“I’m not touching that thing.” 
“Is it still raining?”
“No, it stopped a little while ago.”
“Let’s get Lulu!”
“She’s sleeping. Leave her be.”
“When’s she going to be well, grandma?”
“Only the good Lord knows that. Supper’s in an hour. You need to come in pretty soon and get cleaned up. Your folks’ll be coming back.”

To be continued — for those of you sitting on the edge of your chair over this story, I honestly don’t think anything exciting is going to happen. Lulu isn’t going to die of a mysterious malady that initially manifests as a cold. The boys aren’t going to set anything on fire. Grandma isn’t going to suddenly clutch her chest and fall off the wooden sidewalk (4 inches — it’s set on 2 x 4s) There could be a game of Red Rover — a game kids are no longer allowed to play — and THAT may be a little sensational, but… I think the deepest question this story will address is “Why can’t we eat honeysuckle berries, Grandma?”

Part Four — conclusion

“Real gullywasher out east, mom. The river flooded down by Pompey’s Pillar.”

“Oh my Lord,” said grandma wiping her hands on her apron. “Could you shell those peas for me, Jo? Those snow peas have been prolific this year.” (grandma wouldn’t say “prolific” but that’s the prompt today)

“Happy to, mom.” Hazel, mother to two of the boys in the cellar, took the colander from grandma and sat down at the table to shell the peas.

“Was Lulu any trouble?” asked Patricia coming in the back door with Lulu’s baby brother in her arms.

“Not at all. I had to make her mind once.”

“Just once?” Patricia laughed. “Do you need a hand with supper?” She set the baby in the high chair.

“Hazel, if you could take those peas somewhere so Patricia could lay the table?”

“Sure thing, mom.” Hazel took her project and her chair and moved out of the way.

The back door opened again and the sons-in-law came in with Rochelle, mother of two of the boys in the cellar. “Where are the boys?” she asked, shaking the water out of her hair in the back room.

“In the cellar playing marbles.”

“Do you want me to go get them so they can clean up for supper?”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Where IS Lulu?” asked Patricia.

“She’s taking a nap in the back room.”

“Oh mother, how long?”

“An hour gone now.”

“She won’t sleep tonight, mother. What were you thinking?” Patricia stomped out of the kitchen heading for the back room. Hazel looked at grandma who shook her head.

What could you do? The boys came in and Greg, the oldest finished setting the table.

“There are a lot of us for supper tonight,” said grandma to one of the sons-in-law who nodded and got the chairs from the dining room. Grandma had a dining room, but no one ever ate there.

“Let me do that, mother,” said another son-in-law. He took the heavy kettle and poured the chicken and dumplings into the large mixing bowl and set it in the middle of the table with the new peas, cooked quickly and topped with butter, a plate of bread, a plate of butter, grandma’s plum jam from last year. Thirteen people sat around the table, seven grown-ups, laughing and arguing, four cleaned-up little boys surprised not to be at a “kid’s table,” one little girl with a cold, sitting in the corner, sleepy-eyed, with her thumb in her mouth, and a baby in a high chair with his thumb in his mouth, smashing peas against the tray with is other hand.

You can’t say I didn’t warn you that NOTHING would happen with this story.

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