Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SKELETON IN THE CLOSET (11/30/17)
TITLE: Ghosts and Monsters and Stuff
By Leola Ogle
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She didn’t flinch. “To visit you, Great-grandfather.” She grinned, revealing dimples in her cheeks.
“Humph. What’s your name anyway? I seem to have forgotten.”
Her eyes flashed with joy. “Silly. You know my name. I’m Ellie. I’m four and I’m very brave.”
Edgar’s lips twitched. He wanted to chuckle. “Brave, huh? Me, too. So brave I’m hiding in my bedroom while the vultures in the other room decide my fate.”
Edgar regretted saying that. Ellie looked confused. But, not scared. “I’m sorry, Ellie. I shouldn’t call them vultures. But, when you’re rich and eighty-five years old, family thinks you need to be put away. Maybe you should go back to your mother. I’m just an old curmudgeon.”
Ellie moved closer, her gaze drifting around the room. “You say big words, Great-grandpa. I don’t know all big words. I came in here ‘cause I’m not afraid of ghosts and monsters and stuff. Mommy says they aren’t real. That’s why I’m here. And to say hi, and I love you.”
Ellie laid her head against his hand on the chair’s arm. Edgar stroked her hair with his other hand. Age had softened him.
He had been a cruel businessman, driven by greed, in his younger years while he amassed his fortune. A heart attack at eighty changed him. A caregiver came to the house every day for several months. Agatha – built like bulldozer. “Quit gruffing at me, Mister Edgar, sir. I’m not afraid of you and I won’t be bullied.” She went around singing church songs and exclaiming, “Sweet Jesus,” about everything. And telling him, “I’m a-praying for you. No one’s too tough for my Jesus.”
Funny how that woman got under his skin, and into his heart. Because of her, he could be gentle with little Ellie. “No wonder your family don’t like you, you old bear,” Agatha would tsk-tsk at him. “Be nice. Show some love.”
He tried. It only made them suspicious. He was grateful Agatha agreed to attend the family meeting on his behalf. “You’re lots of things, Mister Edgar, but incompetent isn’t one of them,” Agatha said. “I tell my husband, Paul, people don’t know you got a teddy-bear heart.”
Lost in thought, Edgar startled when Ellie lifted her head. “My grandma says you were a wicked man when she was little like me. She says you chased women. I said, ‘Like tag? Tag is fun.’ She shushed me and then Mommy told me to go play in the garden. But I came to find you.”
Anger flushed Edgar’s cheeks, then he chuckled. It was true. He had chased women. Now all he could do was chase sleep at night. Sleep was a fickle tease, slipperier than any woman he’d ever encountered.
He sighed. He had been young, cruel, and foolish. One thing about Agatha -- her prayers and church songs made him feel bad about how he’d lived his life. She even had him praying he could live out his days in his home and that his family would believe his apologies were sincere and forgive him.
Edgar closed his eyes as scenes of people he’d crushed and things he’d done flitted through his thoughts.
“Great-grandpa.” Ellie was rocking backing and forth on her heels. “What’s that door?” She pointed across the room.
“The restroom. If you need to use the restroom find your mother.”
“Nope.” Her hair danced around her face as she shook her head. “And that door?”
Edgar’s gaze followed her pointing finger. “The closet.”
“Can I look? I’m not afraid.” Her smile was mischievous. “Please.”
Edgar’s forehead creased in perplexity. “What for? It’s golf clubs, old man clothes, ties, and shoes.”
“And something else.” Her eyes twinkled like she knew a secret. She inched across the room, threw open the door, and disappeared in the large closet. “Hey, I can’t find ‘em.”
Ellie emerged, hands on hips. “Grandma and Aunt Louise said you had lots of skeletons in your closet. There’s not even one skeleton.”
Edgar tilted his head and laughed. Ellie stomped her foot. “Did they fib, Great-grandpa?”
Peace filled Edgar. A child’s innocence brought things into perspective. And he had confidence in Agatha’s prayers.
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