written by Bonnie McCune | illustrated by Haejin Park
“I like my winkie.” Five-year-old Sean stands, hand in pants. I’ve entered the kitchen in search of the cause of my grandson’s silence. Now I know.
“I’m sure you do,” I say. “Now zip up and come outside.” I hold out my hand for him, and together we walk to the garden. I take my trowel and pass him the blue plastic shovel. “I’ll tell you a secret,” I say. “When your daddy was five, he said he liked his winkie, too. Most boys do.”
Sean smiles to himself and swings his shovel in a circle. On this spring day, residue snow is dissolving into blooming tulips. I point to the flower beds. “Here’s how we loosen the dirt so the flowers can breath,” I say as I crouch. “Very carefully. Try not to cut the green stems.” Sean absorbs the lesson and scratches the ground near the tulips. His red hair sticks up in tufts like the crown of a dandelion.
“Tell me more about my daddy.”
“I’ll tell you about the day he was born. There was a giant snowstorm, and Grandpa had to drive carefully to the hospital.” Sean’s pink tongue pokes through his lips as he concentrates on his task.
“Tell me about when my daddy met my mommy.” I take a breath from the bottom of my lungs, feeling it’s the first in a long time.
“Your daddy saw your mommy at the grocery store. He thought she was as beautiful as, what kind of fruit do you like?”
“As beautiful as a delicious banana. He loved her right away.”
“Tell me about the day I was born.”
“Your mommy and daddy were very excited. They had been waiting for their new baby. They wanted to teach you everything. To walk and talk, throw a ball, sing.” Sean pulls a face.
“My mommy can’t sing very well. My daddy always makes fun of her.” I change the subject.
“I’ll tell you about when your daddy played a trick on me. He hid in my closet. I didn’t know where he was. I called and called, and he finally popped out. Surprise!”
“Tell me about where my daddy is,” Sean says. He stops digging and looks up, green eyes starred with ebony lines, just as his father’s had been. “Where he is now.” I poke in the plants, pull out weeds, see tiny new hyacinths forcing up through the earth, reaching for the sun. I struggle to stand, and the muscles in my back clench in a painful spasm. I am speechless to tell him what he wants to know.
About the artists:
Haejin Park is a New York based freelance illustrator. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with B.F.A. Illustration in 2015.
Determined to be a writer from ten, Bonnie McCune gained experience on the job in Colorado, working for non-profits. Several years ago she decided to concentrate on fiction writing and has published several books.