The house was shrouded in stillness as the rest of the world moved on. The paper-boy zipped down the street, hurling dailies on porches with rhythmic ease. Down the block, the traffic swelled to a steady hum.
She sank into the grass and watched her grandson look for fairies in the tulips, his hair a halo in the sun. Her breath hitched when their eyes met. In his black suit, with his hair combed back, he was his father.
He walked towards her. “Are you crying, Grammy?”
He lay down next to her, rubbing a blade of grass between his fingers.
She wiped her tears and shook her head. “Something’s in my eye.”
Bathed in the sun, his face was waxen pale. She watched him blow a strand of hair off his face and loosen his tie.
“Grammy, why do they say the water is blue when it’s really just reflecting the sky?”
She shrugged. “You’ll grow up and realise that most things people say don’t make sense.”
Her throat grew tight.
You’ll grow up.
He smiled at her. “I don’t want to grow up. Adults are boring.”
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” she said, ruffling his hair.
He pushed her hand away and muttered, “Grammy, stop it.”
“Someone is growing up, after all.”
“Oh, it’s unvevitable,” her grandson said darkly. He stood up, brushed the grass off his pants and straightened his suit.
“Inevitable,” she whispered. He didn’t hear her.
Humming to himself, he danced back to the tulips. She sighed.
The backdoor creaked open to reveal her son in the frame. The form-fitting suit and obsessively gelled back hair did not hide the lost man underneath. His torso was curled into itself, a weed in the wind, as his bloodshot eyes swept over the garden. They lingered on the tulips.
“We’re late; the funeral home’s an hour away.”
She nodded, turning to wave her grandson goodbye. He was nowhere to be seen. Worried, she turned back to her son, but his eyes wouldn’t meet hers.
“Don’t worry, Mama, he’ll be waiting for us there.”