Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
I remember his wide dead eyes. It was like a fish had been brought back to life and told to pretend to be human. His legs and arms were folded with too many joints into the rocking chair. He slowly creaked back and forth, disturbing the dust motes in the sunlit air. He was wrapped in an old blanket that had been dipped in water. The drip of this blanket and the soft creaking of the rocking chair were the only sounds in the room.
He looked at us. His eyes held no comprehension other than the fact that they had detected movement and were checking it out.
His mouth suddenly gaped loudly open as his body remembered to breathe.
My brother and I screamed. We ran down the stairs to our room and shivered until we started laughing and making fun of each other for being so scared. It was forgotten after that.
I come back to that moment over and over in my head. It plays back in my head in perfect recall. My brother doesn’t remember it.
We had been told to never disturb Grandpa up in his room. What I remember isn’t blown out of proportion. ‘Grandpa’ wasn’t human. His eyes were the size of dinner plates and his thick smooth body had a small number of huge muscles. His head became his neck with no difference in thickness. His neck became his torso in the same way. He was a tube of strong flesh. His long arms and legs were webbed and almost snake-like with the number of joints they possessed. His long fingers were eight to a hand and webbed. He looked like an aquatic life form but he had no problem breathing air.
I remember my parents took turn bathing him about three times a day. I remember thinking that Grandpa just liked baths but now I’m wondering. That’s a lot of baths.
He died when I was eight. I remember his funeral was small and on our property. My parents died when I was twelve in a car accident. Their funeral was in a public cemetery. My brother and I were raised by my uncle. Nothing was ever said about Grandpa.
The reason I’m wondering is that in a few minutes, I’m going to go for a gold medal in Olympic swimming. I’m going to win. I am a full two seconds ahead of the world record and my competitors lag behind me by almost half a length. People are silent around me because of my freakish talent at being in the water. They are a little on edge since I passed all of their drug tests with flying colours. It’s almost unsportsmanlike of me to be beating the other guys by such lengths. I feel no shame. In fact, I’m a little worried at how little I feel these days at all.
My parents never talked about Grandpa. They’re both dead now. And I wonder.