“Stranded,” my grandmother said as she looked up from the Toyota Camry’s hood that had seen more damage than any car probably should and it had finally died sitting outside the community temple. She looked around the empty parking lot, inhaled the spring air, and finally crouched down to my level. She gave me the comforting grin that I knew all too well and whispered, “We’re just on a mission.” I clutched onto her tough skin as I kicked the dirt beneath my feet. I peered up to see her sweet face as she glanced around, her smile slowly formed into a hard line, her soft eyes turned to a squint. She took one step forward, leaving that old silver Toyota sitting in the empty lot as we trekked on.
We crossed the street together, me a few paces behind her. How did grandma know the way home? She didn’t live here and her only job was to make sure I got home from Hebrew school that day, the once simple task now seemed so difficult. I tugged her hand down and she peered at me from her round-rimmed glasses.
“Grandma?” I said as my brow began to furrow and crease. “Do you know where were going?” I looked around and saw nothing but houses. Rows of suburban lawns and picketed fences lined the streets. I heard dogs barking and the sound of a rusty old sprinkler in the distance. It was a scene I was all too familiar with, but this wasn’t where I lived.
“Of course I do. Would I lead you in the wrong direction?”
I thought about her question but was to afraid to say it out loud, I really wasn’t sure if she did. After a few seconds she dragged me away from the empty road and my feet were no longer on the comfort of the sidewalk but instead planted in the soft dirt between houses.
“Look at your feet. You are home”, she said. I did what my grandmother told me and stared at my black Mary Janes noticing how much dirt they had on them. My mom wouldn’t approval. I didn’t understand what she meant, home seemed so far away but I looked up and nodded at her anyway.
She smiled and walked backwards two steps. “I am where we are right now.” She took a long breath in before she took a step forward. “Now I’m at your elementary school.” She took the last step forward so that our feet were touching. With a smile so big and eyes so bright she finally said, “Now, we’re home.” She pushed my bangs out of my eyes and slowly turned her back; continuing on her way down the sidewalk leaving me question what she meant. I didn’t know where home was but it definitely was not two steps away. I disregarded all of my unanswered questions as I ran to grab onto her outreached hand.
We walked for what seemed like miles for my three and a half foot stature. We walked past house after house. Who knew in a town so small, there were so many houses that looked exactly alike? We passed the school just like she had promised, it wasn’t a step away but we got there and suddenly we found ourselves in front of a store with its red sign reading “CVS”.
My grandma crouched down once again and looked at my leg, inspecting the tear that had appeared on my white tights. The tear had started out as a little hole grew bigger with every fall and every stretch that the day provided. The once-small hole had turned into a cobweb of nylon on my thigh.
“Mom won’t be very happy about this would she?”
I remembered the vow I had made to my mom when I begged her to let me wear my favorite purple dress with the pink dots to Hebrew School. I looked down at my Mary Janes with its fresh coat of dust that now covered the shiny black and shook my head. I looked up to find my grandmother staring at me before leading me into the store and straight to an aisle with a wall taller than I was covered in tights of different sizes and colors. She held two different pairs of children’s white tights up to my leg, inspecting the color difference. After a moment of thought she walked to the front of the store and paid for the tights before she led me to the bathroom to change.
As I stepped out of the bathroom I handed her old tights, ashamed that she might bring them home to my mom to show her what I had done. I watched my grandma as she balled the old pair into her fist and threw them in the garbage without another thought. With a smile she whispered, “Our secret,” and we walked out the door.
We walked the rest of the way home while singing, “You are my Sunshine” on a constant loop with her hand in mine until we had reached the tan house with its red door. This house, I knew. We were finally home. She led me in and we both sat down on the living room couch, both of us tired from a walk made for neither of our age groups.
My mom poked her head out of her office, her heels clicking on the wood floor. “Where have you been? Mom, you were supposed to get her an hour ago”.
I looked up at my grandma’s face as she looked at my mom and then back at me, “It’s ok, were home, were safe.”
I smiled back at her. Yea, I thought, grandma got us home; I knew she would.
Rachel Katz is a freshman at SUNY Geneseo and is majoring in Communication. Coming from Westchester, New York, Rachel is ready to explore and write about all of the excitement that Geneseo has to offer