Family Heirlooms (Narrative)

by Rusheena   Aug 13, 2015

My grandma and I
are about to rummage
through her "treasure chest."
Grandma always told me
"There's no telling
what you'll find in there."
Today, I wanted to see for myself.
As we unlatch the giant box,
I examined the specks of rust
peeking through the chipped,
mint green paint.
An explosion of dust consumes
the air and my lungs.
We sift through the sea of
jewelry, gift cards, and flyers,
until Grandma spots
a photo album under
a heap of board games.
She scans it thoroughly
and stops at a picture of me,
a plump newborn baby
scowling at the camera.
Here's Grandma sporting an afro,
decked out in floral bell bottoms,
a total "knockout,"
even in that flashy getup
I pick through stray photos and
trinkets on the chest floor,
until a shiny dog tag catches my eye.
I put it on; it's cold against my neck.
It's my great-uncle Tony's...
Two years ago, he died of renal failure.
It was so sudden;
no one knew about his condition.
Grandma didn't eat or sleep
for days after his death,
Even now, I'm unsure
if she's finally moved on.
While she's busy reading recipes,
I quickly slip off the dog tag
and bury it under an old quilt.
"Remember this, Sheena?"
I almost jump out of my skin.
Grandma's found a piece of
The Berlin Wall!
She shows me the colorful stone,
splashed with red and black paint.
It was my mama's gift to her army brat,
but Grandma had it for safekeeping.
Mama was so stern and cautious
after coming home from Germany,
but that quickly faded away,
once she reunited with Georgia...
We return the stone to its resting place,
but Grandma suddenly stops,
her hands frozen over
a newspaper clipping.
It must be The One
that I could never read,
the one about me.
I'll never forget that day,
the day that my innocence was stolen,
claimed by another Thornton,
almost the same age as me.
That would only be the beginning
of his conquests,
but it's an open wound
that we're too afraid to close
because secrets are a family tradition.
Grandma stares at me,
as the creases in her forehead deepen.
She quickly rips up the
seventeen year old paper
and slams the "treasure chest" shut.
"It's okay, Grandma, really...
Let's keep going."
After what seems like an eternity,
Grandma manages a smile
before slowly re-opening the chest.


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Latest Comments

  • 4 years ago

    by Ben Pickard

    A beautifully detailed piece, and delicately written. Excellent!