The best present Granny Cat Clark ever received was from me—Wonder Riley. I know this because she tells me practically every day. She covers my wild red rumpus hair with her big-as-man hands and exclaims.
“Wonder, have I told you lately how incredibly special I find my throne?”
I’d trash-picked the eight foot antique hall tree but I took care to never mention that fact to her. I had no desire to reduce it in her esteem. Even so, I suspect Granny Cat may have figured it out as I am not a young woman of great means.
Most recently, I told her of an exciting and wonderful future event.
“My beau’s creating a seat cushion for it, Granny Cat,” I said. “Then you’ll love it even more.”
She p-shawed me. “Now you listen here, Sugar Pop,” she said. “That boy is not your beau, not your forever love. Trust me. I have a gift. I know these things.”
She coaxed two tangerine-colored tendrils out of my updo, arranged them on either side of my face.
“A boy who sews fashion items is not one who will adore a woman,” she said. “Well, not in the way you want. Or need.”
I’d laid my hand over hers. “But it’s rainbow velvet, Granny. With a brush fringe. I’m pretty sure you’ll wet your britches when you see it.”
I didn’t want her to be right about Charlie, but her certainty gave me pause. Maybe that’s why he always kissed my fingers, not my cheek. Nor my lips, full and glossy as I maintained them. Whenever we came together after a separation he’d say, “Enchante” and lift my fingertips to his mouth. He wouldn’t release them for the longest time. And sometimes his eyelashes appeared damp. That meant he cared, right?
Charlie'd worn mittens, charcoal gray ones, the last time we’d been together. His papa had duct-taped them to his wrists.
“Why?” I said as I fished Granny Cat’s sewing scissors out of her darning basket. “Is he concerned you would— That we might—”
Charlie collapsed beside me on the sofa. “No,” he said as he wept against my chest. “He doesn’t want me to stitch again. Ever.”
But that’s a recent tale. I probably should regress.
(You can read part 2 here.)