WARNING: THAT'S NOT CHOCOLATE YOU ARE EATING!
BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES
I watched as Grandma Alma opened the little box of chocolate candy.. she worked the fingers on her good hand to open the foil that held the little square pieces of candy.
"Grandma, I want one".... I could already taste the chocolate in my mouth. Grandma told me that "no", I couldn't have one, that I didn't need it right now.
I played that morning, all the while thinking about Grandma's chocolate candy. I thought I would have a piece of it, but, I had to think about how to get one!
I sat on the floor cross-legged in front of the bookcase. I picked a book from the bookcase and opened it. The white pages in the book was where my interest lay. I was going to draw and color on the white page. It was one of my most favorite things to do as a child. I would sit for hours drawing and coloring on those white pages in each book... never noticed. That was my little safe place.
I was nine years old and I hadn't been at Grandma Alma and George's home long. It was wild there, and seemed to be something going on all the time.
When I slipped between the arm of the couch and the bookcase... sitting on the floor, I was almost out of sight and out of the main 'walkway' from the front door through the living room I was in... to Grandma's sitting room (later in my mind to become the 'arena' for entertainment, fighting and just plain 'raising Cain').
My mind kept seeing my grandma's one good hand working her fingers to open that tin foil on the chocolate candy. I liked chocolate, I really wanted some of that chocolate. I wondered why she wouldn't give me some. She always gave me things I liked.
A drop of saliva fell onto the white page I was drawing on. Yes, I was going to figure out how to get a piece of that chocolate candy.
I put my pencil and crayons inside the bookcase. I'd already put the book back into place before I knew it... my mind was on the little box that held that candy.
I got up and walked through the doorway of grandma's sitting room. I stood a moment, smiling at my grandma, she smiled back at me. I walked to her recliner, she began talking to me. My Grandma Alma loved to talk to me. I loved talking to her.
I went closer so, I could hug her. "I love you, grandma", I said. I was hugging her and as she held me... my eyes were looking on the old dresser that sat by her chair. My grandma's dresser had everything in the world on it! Bottles of medicine, bottles of Beauty Ray lotion and several bottles of alcohol.
There was Grandma Alma's big glass of ice water sitting there.... I still didn't see that chocolate candy! Darn! I bet it's in that top drawer... Grandma Alma kept lots of stuff there. I knew I couldn't go in her drawer easily, she sat there all the time.
George made grandma lunch, after she ate she asked him to please help her get to the bedroom. Grandma Alma wanted to take a nap! Oh-hhhhhhhhhhhh......
I watched George help Grandma Alma stand up, her one good hand pulling her dress down over her legs. Her right arm just hung by her side. Grandma had been very sick and in a coma some time before I came to live at her house. I'd remembered her walking and smiling before. She took me to the place she worked and there was a train and toys, and Santa Claus. Now, she couldn't walk easily ... Grandma Alma had had a stroke.
One of Grandma's legs was dragging as George held her by the waist. Grandma held onto her walker for support. They both finally went through the bedroom door which was right beside the old dresser and grandma's recliner.
George couldn't see me, he was blind. Grandma couldn't turn around now... I opened that top drawer and there that candy was! I was going to have some of that chocolate candy! I know I must have been smiling!
I grabbed the box quickly, closed the drawer almost closed... I knew I had to get that box back in there. I ran through the door on the other side of Grandma Alma's recliner! Her sitting room had three doors to it... it was the center of the house.
I was in the kitchen! I began opening that tinfoil on the chocolate candy and broke off several pieces of it... I didn't think Grandma Alma could tell that any was missing. I crammed it in my mouth and wrapped quickly what was left, and ran quietly back to Grandma Alma's old dresser! I dropped the little box into the crack I'd left at the top of the drawer.
Grandma Alma and George were busy fussing about what they'd have for supper. I began hopping and skipping through the door of the living room, right on out that front door. I was on the front porch, I walked to the porch swing and sat down.
I leaned back in that swing, I was grinning because that chocolate sure tasted so... good! I had to keep wiping the chocolate because I had alot in my mouth. I didn't want to swallow it all at one time, it was too good!
I had to go get some water, it was hard to swallow all that chocolate without water. I hopped and skipped through the front door licking my lips, sucking all that chocolate off my tongue, swallowing every last little bit of it. It was good!
I skipped through the living room, sitting room, into the kitchen. I went to the white cupboard with glass doors on my right. I wanted a glass for water.
I opened the glass door, there was a scent that I wasn't used to. I didn't like it at all. There were bugs in that cabinet! I reached up to get the glass off the top shelf, it didn't shine like the glasses I'd always drank from. I jumped back, a brown bug fell off the glass to the floor! It scared me so much. I hated to go in Grandma Alma and George's cupboard!
I went to the sink and got water. I drank a whole glass of water, I put the glass in the sink. I skipped out the back door, onto the back porch. The back porch scared me at night time... it was screened in, and always had wood stacked up on it.
The huge, black wardrobe stood to the right of the backdoor. That wardrobe ... I stayed away from! Things could get me.. they could jump out on me. How well I knew! One night something big like a kitty jumped out almost on my head!
The bathroom door was to the left. The commode had brown tobacco stains on the side of it. George would lift the lid to spit tobacco juice into the water. He couldn't see the stains that would dry there. I'd never seen that before and would carefully sit on that commode.
My stomach didn't feel good and I didn't know why. It hurt several times, then... stopped. I thought I had to go to the bathroom, but no, I didn't have to. I went out the screen door into the yard.
There was a tree stump near the backdoor, it had an axe in it. I saw George chopping wood up. He could chop the wood into pieces, never missing the wood with the axe. I saw him, I know.
There was a fence that went between the neighbor's house in the backyard. Grandma and George had a building in the backyard... it had a door and window on one end, where there was a coal bin. The door on the other end was where they kept things. I saw all kinds of things in there. Magazines, boxes, old chairs and such.
At that end of the building was a space between it and the fence that was there. That was where my cousin, Sylvia, and I used to play. We made many mud pies and cooked alot of dishes there.
We always had water and dirt to make our mixes. We made beautiful things to eat when we were little... we could see everything we made... in our imagination. It was our special kitchen.. we could cook anything we wanted.
My stomach was beginning to hurt alittle more, and it wasn't exactly going away! I might have to tell Grandma Alma that I was sick. I might have to go to the bathroom first!
I was looking at our kitchen thinking about I'd be glad when Sylvia and them got back. I wanted to play. I had to go to the bathroom!
I ran back to the screen door, opened it and ran inside letting the screen door slam! As I ran into the bathroom I heard George holler... George sure did like to holler. "Don't slam that back door", I heard him say. I didn't have time to say that I wouldn't... I was on the commode, my stomach hurting, cramping. I was too young to know what was wrong. I knew I was sick and I had to tell Grandma!
Everytime I tried to leave the commode, I couldn't... I'd have to 'go'... again! "Grandma, Grandma!" I called. "I'm sick, Grandma!" I heard George's heavy steps coming quickly. "What's wrong with you, Faye?" I told him that my stomach was hurting something bad, and I couldn't stop going to the bathroom. He asked me what had I been eating. "Nothing, George, I didn't eat nothing", I said.
I couldn't stay out of the bathroom for the longest time, I was very sick. No one knew what was wrong with me, until.....
"Who has been in my Ex-Lax?" I heard my grandma ask George if he'd been into her Ex-Lax, that several of the squares were missing. George said "no", he didn't touch her Ex-Lax.
Grandma Alma said that if somebody was _______ alot, that's who has been into it. I heard George say " that young-un has been into your Ex-Lax!" I heard them both say "Faye" at the same time. I knew I was in trouble, but, not sure what for!
George began calling my name, I didn't go at first, he might whip me! George never whipped a child that I know of... but, at the time I didn't know his ways.
I finally slinked into the sitting room to where Grandma and George were sitting. "What, grandma?" She looked straight at me and asked me if I got some of her Ex-Lax.
Grandma, I didn't get any of your Ex-Lax, but, I got some of your chocolate candy. I just wanted some of that chocolate candy! I began crying. George began to laugh... he was a big man and he had a big, happy stomach! When he laughed, his stomach would move in the happiest way. I quit crying to watch, wondering why he was laughing.
Grandma Alma realized why he was laughing, she began laughing. I didn't see what was so funny, but, I began to laugh, too! I loved laughing with Grandma Alma and George... though George couldn't see... George had a twinkle in his eyes! I loved seeing laughter in my Grandma Alma's eyes. It felt like sunshine in that room!
Later, I found out... that I was the one who had been into her Ex-Lax .. I couldn't quite understand then, but, I never forgot how sick I had been... it was ugly! Needless to say... I never ate anymore Ex-Lax.
At Grandma Alma and George's ...I learned they had something better than that for me... they made sure I took it... and had everyone chase me to throw me on the bed and make me swallow it! It was Black Draught! No, I didn't ever need anymore Ex-Lax!
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