If his grandmother was going to expect for respect and order to be the cornerstones of their disaffected relationship from now on, Presley determined that it would be in his best interest to limit the amount of interaction that he had with her altogether as they moved forward. His young, developing brain had finally comprehended that him and the bizarre woman would never get along. For such an elderly woman, she was more immature than he was; and Presley wasn’t too keen on going through a phase of being loved followed by a phase of being abhorred over and over again. Serious about limiting the amount of interaction that he had with his grandmother, nowadays Presley’s days went a little something like this: After waking up in the mornings, he would lie down in bed for a while so that he wouldn’t cross paths with her once he left the room. When he believed the coast to be clear, he would dash into the bathroom to brush his teeth and bathe his skin before heading into the kitchen, where he would find a plate of food already waiting for him on the kitchen table. Once gobbling down breakfast, he would slip outside through the back door of the cottage, since he didn’t want to walk past his grandmother, who was habitually seated inside of the living room from sunup ’til sundown. At 12:00 p.m., he would be summoned inside to eat lunch. This was the only time of the day that afforded the boy and his grandmother the opportunity to interact with one another, but Presley would always hastily devour his food and then excuse himself from her presence. He would head back outside until his grandmother would call him inside to have dinner. This was a meal that he would always opt to skip, however. Instead, he would take a quick bath before locking himself away in the room that he had recently recovered from his injuries inside of. He preferred sleeping on that smelly, filthy, blood- and shit-stained bedsheet rather than to sleep in the same room as his grandmother.
After following the same daily routine for quite some time, something caught Presley off guard when he woke up one morning. When he opened up his eyes on this particular morning, he was looking directly up into his grandmother’s frightening silver eyes. In fact, it was the warmth of her breath on his face that had woken him up from his deep sleep. She was that close to him. Immediately panicking once he saw his grandmother’s unsightly face just inches away from his own, Presley scurried backwards on his elbows and back up against the bedroom wall adjacent to the bed. But Ms. Sillow insisted that she had come in peace. And this time, she meant it.
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, boy,” she lightly chided as she stretched her arms out in front of her, indicating to him her desire for a hug. Presley didn’t budge from his spot up against the wall, leaving his grandmother with no choice than to come up with a solution to this latest quagmire. But the boy already knew exactly what defiance to his grandmother’s orders would result in. After thinking briefly to herself, Ms. Sillow tucked the lower end of her nightgown in between her legs, climbed up onto the bed, and began walking over to her grandson on her knees. As she got closer, it appeared as though Presley would have a heart attack at any second. He was panting heavily, and his chest was moving in and out in an irregular manner. But this didn’t stop his grandmother from inching her way closer and closer to him with that cold, expressionless look on her face that would always rouse trepidation inside of him. Once she had gotten close enough to make physical contact with him, she briskly grabbed hold of his shoulders with her bony hands, pulled him from against the wall, and hugged him extremely tightly. Her python-like hug was accompanied by kisses all over his face and salutations of good health, long life, and prosperity, leaving Presley completely thrown for a loop. He had absolutely no idea what had gotten into his grandmother, but nonetheless, today’s events brought a rare smile back to his face. Ms. Sillow’s hugs and kisses and kind words felt extremely good. And the boy hugged and kissed her back. It’s amazing how children possess such an uncanny ability to forgive.
They ate breakfast together that morning for the first time in weeks. While basically seated directly beside one another at the small circular table, Ms. Sillow took this opportunity to remind Presley of how elated she had been ever since he had come into her life - just in case he had forgotten. Even though she didn’t think her words would mean that much to him given the up-and-down nature of their relationship, everything she said had directly touched Presley’s heart. Once he had gotten through eating, he made a few steps over to where his grandmother was seated and hugged her. While embracing her, he got up on to the tip of his toes so that his mouth reached her ear and told her how much he loved her before he made his way outside.
Ms. Sillow continued to shower the boy with love and words of kindness during lunchtime; and by now he was on cloud nine. This was without a doubt shaping up to be the best day that he had ever had since his mother had dropped him off in Yarmouth.
As soon as Presley made his way back outside after finishing his lunch, his grandmother immediately got back to work inside of the kitchen. For the boy, who has having a blast playing outside in the front yard, evening time came much too quickly; but for Ms. Sillow, it couldn’t have come any sooner. She was completely exhausted after expending all her energy in the kitchen all afternoon.
“Come inside now, Presley,” she yelled from the front door after she had finally finished up doing what she was doing inside of the kitchen. Once inside, his grandmother gently placed her hands on his shoulders, looked him square in the eyes, and kindly pleaded with him to join her at the kitchen table once he would have gotten through washing himself up in the bathroom. Since the day had been going so perfectly thus far, tonight the boy decided to comply with his grandmother’s request instead of running off to his room.
True to his word, he returned to the kitchen table after cleaning himself up, and he was all smiles. His spirits were raised even higher when Ms. Sillow placed the cake she had been working so diligently on all afternoon before him. Today he turned seven years old. What a perfect way to cap off such an unbelievable day, the surprised birthday boy thought to himself. It was the first time that he had ever had anything of the sort done for him on his birthday, and he was a little overwhelmed, to say the least.
Noticing how eager her grandson was to dig in to the florid vanilla cake that had taken her so many grueling hours to prepare, his grandmother told him to close his eyes and make a wish as he blew out the candles before he could have a bite. “But, you must tell me what you wished for,” she further instructed as her eyes gave him an uncomfortably hard stare.
His wish shouldn’t have come as a surprise to her.