16 January 2007

Short Writing Assignment

My grandfather’s days had been reduced to staring at, not watching, daytime television on the faded blue couch in his living room. He kept the curtains drawn all the time. With the sun shut out, shadows colonized every surface, and the house seemed to exist in a perpetual state of gray. The once vibrant mountain scene, painted and hung above the fireplace by my grandfather, had long since lost its color, just as his thin, wrinkled body had lost its pigment. When he lifted his arm to aim the remote, his body trembled with the effort and the loose heap of cotton and corduroy would shake and dance like flags at half mast.
If I looked hard enough, I felt I could see right through him. In fact my brother and I would be playing with Hot Wheels or GI Joes on the cold hardwood floor and would forget he was even there at all. His voice was almost inaudible; a wandering whisper that tickled our ears then passed on and faded away. The television would get louder or the channel would change, his way of reminding us that we weren’t alone. I hesitate to call his existence living, but, as a six-year old, I couldn’t understand there was once more to this haunt of a man.
The only hint of a former life was a police badge, framed and mounted on a small portion of wall just to the left and perpendicular to the front door, a place suitable for a coat rack or an umbrella stand. I remember looking up at it, wondering how it maintained its shine in this house of ghosts. Now I couldn’t tell you the numbers, or if there were any at all, and I couldn’t testify to its design, or the city and department it came from. All I can say is this: looking back, my grandfather failed to block the panes of the semi-circled window on the front door, and occasionally the Pasadena sun forced its way through the small opening. When it did, the gold police badge lit up, illuminated amidst a dull haze, and became a reminder of a man I never knew.

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