Looking back, she’s pretty sure her grandfather is ten feet tall. He stands tall and unfettered, without an ounce of the world on his shoulders. His voice is smooth and deep from her place on his lap with her ear to his chest. When she’s that close, the voice feels like her own, traveling seamlessly from one soul to another. She feels so warm and safe with him, shielded from pain and fear and the inevitable heartbreak of the future to come. Nothing can hurt her from where she sits.
As she grows, she begins to see the cracks in the facade. A little more than six feet (and growing shorter every year, as he says) is much closer to the truth. Too big to sit on laps, now the voice she once could have mistaken for her own is muddled by the distance separating the same old chair where Papa sits to the settee across the room where she now does. When he grasps her hand, it’s not the warm hand from her memory, but a cooler one made that way by poor circulation. The future to come has become the present, the potential hurt actualized.
She worries that her grandfather is beginning to show his age. But is it him that’s showing his age, or her?