May 5, 2023 | By Decca Harper
Sometimes, when I was a kid, I would wake up in the summer nights and wander into the kitchen for a glass of orange juice. And I would always see my grandpa there, hunched over the kitchen counter, staring out at the moon.
At first, I was startled – but after a little while, I regarded his nocturnal habits as normal, and sometimes we would even chat a little.
“Well, it’s far too late for you to be up. Run along now.”
And I’d take my glass of orange juice and run along.
And sometimes I felt sad, seeing him drooped over like a wilted flower, watching the moon.
During the school year, Grandpa spent his evenings planning lessons and talking excitedly about all that spectacular learning the kids were doing. But in the summer, there was no school. There were no lessons. There was nothing to tell of. He just stood there like a butterfly with broken wings. I didn’t like the way the shadows tinted his fingers blue, or how white his hair seemed in lunar hues.
I remember one time he didn’t notice me at all. I was seventeen then, still sauntering out for my nightly orange juice consumption ritual.
I thought back to once in the autumn when we had gone to the market to buy some oranges. On the way there, we saw a man sprinting across the street with unimaginable determination. Grandpa chuckled.
“I’m sure he was about to get on a plane to fly to the seaside and establish a new life there, but he changed his mind,” he said.
And then we bought the oranges.
“How many hours do you think that man spends grooming his mustache a day?” Grandpa muttered, after we had left.
I watched the bag of oranges sway in his hands.
Then we were home, and we ate the oranges, and we drank orange juice, and we laughed, and we talked about the florist he’d met in Florida when he was a kid, about the progress his students had made in just one year, about our aimless speculations, about people passing by our window.
And then summer rolled around, and he watched only the moon.