She had been shelling peas. The most mundane task imaginable. She kept thinking about frozen peas in the supermarket aisle and how she had never appreciated the level of work needed to get those peas from plant to her plate before. She was shelling peas, one after the other, carefully prying them from their pods when he asked her a question. The question he had never asked. “What happened Rosemary? Why are you here?”
She hesitated. Why was she there? At the time she had felt wounded, she had been running and she had been burning with questions. But most of all, she had needed somewhere safe to be. And that had led her to Grandad. The silent man she had known all her life, and yet not known. If that makes any sense. Because she thought, I need to understand how, how my father became so cruel. What did you and Nana do that made him like this?
She had wanted to ask, but she had hesitated, and so she lied. “To take care of you,” she said.
And when the words left her lips, she saw the hurt in his eyes. It surprised her.
“I don’t need taking care of,” he said quietly.
She could have back tracked. She could have laughed and pivoted.
But she thought about it then. About the empty, quiet house. About his strangely tidy habits. About the lack of life. No pet. No visitors. No one came by. And she said, “Yes you do.”
His face darkened, like her fathers then, and she felt the rushing of adrenaline in her system, the pinpricking needles in her brain and she got ready for a fight.
“You stopped living granddad. No body visits, you don’t go out. You’re just waiting to die.” And after she said it, she realized she had gone too far.
“Get out.” He said quietly. With finality. “Get out of my house.”
She backed away, feeling the sting of his words and reveling in the inevitability of his rejection. Stumbling on the uneven concrete path, she turned and fled.
As she reached the front gate, yanking it open, she thought she heard him call her, but she didn’t pause, she ran.