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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Growing Up

There's No Place Like Grandma's Home
• Malcom Graham

Thud..Thud..Thud… my knuckles collide against the aged wood of the door, announcing my presence.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, Grandma,” the door swiveling open instantly as if I had uttered the secret password.

Photo: Mal and Zac

Mal Graham

My grandmother hobbles back to her favorite root beer-colored recliner. Fuzzy pink bunny slippers hover in the air as she lies back. She sports her favorite baby blue gown and golden-rimmed frames over her icy gray yet warming, caring eyes.

“How you doin’, suga’?” She inquires as I plop a kiss on her cheek, her sweet voice oozing over me like golden rivers of honey. As the phrase enters my ears, I’m flooded with waters of comfort and belonging, belonging like the way syrup pools over pancakes. Or the way hats dwell on heads. Home. I was home. And, no, I’d never lived with my grandma. But ya see, this interaction with my grandma had been a part of my daily routine from when I had learned how to tie my Nikes, to when I had waltzed the stage for my high school graduation.

Thud...Thud...Thud… “Who is it?”

“It’s Malcolm,” I answer. The door opens immediately. But then my aunt turns her attention elsewhere, summoning my cousin from his chamber.

“Zac, get yo ass in here. It’s time to eat!” my Aunt Nita screeches, a far cry from my grandma’s tender greeting. But just as familiar. My aunt always kept a metal shell of sternness about herself. She had to. Being a single mom rearing four children on her own, she didn’t take shit from anyone. But underneath her hard shell she kept the most caring heart. As I walk through the door, I’m met with the sound of hot grease crackling like a campfire started by the world’s most decorated boy scout. The drool-inducing smell of chicken frying invades every square inch of my nostrils, not even bothering to knock. No refined foodie would have the words to compose a Yelp review about my auntie’s fried chicken. “Have something to eat, baby,” my auntie offers, shedding her granite-like exterior, sounding like a completely different woman.

Though the two pictures painted are vastly different, they were commissioned under the same roof as my grandma and aunt live together. Marrying my mom at the ripe age of 21, my dad decided to have a house built on land close to his childhood home. The result: I’d spend my life growing up the length of a football field from my grandma’s house, making the ancient dirty white trailer less like a second home and more an extension of the one I already had.

My frequent visits to grandma’s house stemmed from more than the love I had for my favorite elder lady. After the loss of my grandfather when I was just five years old, my granny was left alone, unattended. Being a very close knit family, my Aunt Nita moved in to offer solace and companionship. With her came four of my first cousins, a dynamic that would greatly mold the clay of who I am today. One---Zac-- became a brother. Being born just ten days apart, we have been inseparable since birth, so much so that our names are interchanged even though we look nothing alike. His skin is that of caramel, mine of milk chocolate. Everlasting crinkly dreadlocks that would make the snakes on Medusa’s head jealous hang down his back while my hair is still mostly confined to my head. Our personalities differ, too. His charisma shines brightly like a grand fiery ball in the sky, my charm is more subtle like the prime minister of the night. He is brash and outgoing, I am cool and reserved. And without the balance that Zac has provided me my entire life, I would be a different individual today.

My grandma, aunt, and cousin are more essential to me than peanut butter is to jelly. To have them all under one roof has felt like Christmas year-round, my entire life. My grandma’s sweet sentiment, my aunt’s tough love, my cousin’s unconditional companionship. They are all invaluable. Without them, my life would be akin to that of a brand new coloring book—incomplete and boring.

During the day, a luscious stretch of land greener than a leprechaun’s suit separates my house from my grandma’s. During the night, the field is an impenetrable black sea of ink ready to swallow any creature brave enough to cross it. Midway between the two houses is an overarching fortress of pine trees. During the day it provides a shady refuge from the sun. During the night it becomes a hotel for spiders. An abandoned vintage Cadillac sits in the field, a piece of my grandfather that will never fade. After this monument, one enters the territory of what appears to be a cat army, generations of fierce felines acting as guardians to my grandma’s castle. They protect a battered white trailer, its outer material weathering away. An outdated brick chimney that I’ve never seen bellowing smoke sits at the top. The small porch sports two overly-used black rocking chairs, the thrones of my grandparents. The foundation of the trailer sports massive holes, as if the trailer is upheld by love itself.

 I’ve walked the stretch to my grandma’s house a million times. No one walk being the same. Although I have not seen much of the world, I pray I will trek far and wide across this little blue planet. Yet, I know no matter what trips I take in my lifetime, none will mean more to me than a trip to my grandma’s house.

© Malcom Graham April 26th 2021

Malcom is a junior at the College of Charleston majoring in communication and minoring in WRP (writing, rhetoric, publication).

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