Anyway, Grandmother didn’t have a story for me that day. Instead, she sat there kinda stroking my hair and said, “Woong?” And then she said it again, so I thought maybe I was in trouble ’cause why else would she use my real name like that twice in a row?
I said, “Yeah, Grandmother?”
“I want you to know something about your mother.” And my whole body perked up, and I was wondering if maybe she was gonna explain why Mama was so sad and grumpy and mean-hearted all at once and why I still felt sorry for her even when she was wailing on me, but instead Grandmother said, “She loves you very much. Best way she knows how.” And I guess, Teacher, maybe it’s sorta like when I was learning English, and Chuckie Mansfield said I couldn’t talk any better than a baby, but you said I was doing the best I could with what I had or some stuff and nonsense like that. So maybe that’s what Grandmother was trying to say, except in the old days I didn’t even know there was a language called English or that one day I’d hafta learn it, and so her words didn’t seem to help none, ’cause what good is it to know your mama loves you if you can’t stop her from getting down the spanking spoon whenever she gets mad?
Grandmother was quiet for a little while, and I thought maybe from her breathing she mighta fallen asleep. On a normal day, I wouldn’t have minded too much because then I could run outside and play a little with nobody to get on my back, only this time I didn’t wanna. So I kinda nestled up against her, and we sat quiet-like. I don’t think either of us fell asleep, ’least I didn’t, and whenever I think about Grandmother now, I remember that afternoon together. Just quiet and still. Didn’t need to say nothing ’cause that woulda spoiled the mood. ’Least it felt that way. Sometimes I wonder if it woulda been different if she knowed about what was gonna happen. ’Course that day, sitting next Grandmother, neither of us expected nothing, so we sat, enjoying the togetherness of it all, and it was so nice and peaceful-like that I didn’t even feel sad when Mama got home and I realized Grandmother forgot to tell me any stories before she left.
The "Twelve Days of Woong" series includes short snippets from my upcoming novel, Flower Swallow. Get your pre-publication copy NOW when you donate to Liberty in North Korea or read it free on Wattpad.