Grandma’s Photo

‘’I want to share a photo with you taken when I was fifty,” my grandmother crooned into my ear.

She was so happy I knew it must be a good one. “Please! Please!” I begged.
She withdrew the photo from the pocket in her apron and pushed it into my pudgy five-year-old hands.
“There! That’s me! Your Granpa Steve took that!”

She was beautiful. Her hair was short-cropped, but dark. Her figure was fuller, curvy, but she stood holding her purse tightly in her pearl-gloved hands, as though surprised and frightened she had been found out for being so lovely.

It was the second most beautiful picture of my grandmother I had ever seen. The first was from when she was twenty-one. She hadn’t met my granpa yet. One of her sisters had taken it. She still had that long nose, but she wore it with such attitude that it was beautiful, and her hair swung every direction—wild, cork-screw locks. She was the ultimate 1920s flapper.

I thought she looked young in this photo. But then Grandma had said she was fifty when it was taken and I had heard that fifty was old. Maybe she was mistaken about the photo. I had known my grandma to make mistakes. I would catch this one, somehow prove it.

“Grandma? Grandma?” I inquired.
“Yes honey?”
“Fifty is old, right?”

I waited like a cat for her reply. I knew she would have to admit that it was, and that therefore she had been wrong about the photo, and then figure out how old she really was. There was no way she could have been fifty.

I wanted to know. I wanted to know her real story.

Instead, I heard a gasp. After a while, nothing.

Eventually, she came and firmly took the photo from my hands.
I could see her eyes were slightly red and wet. She seemed very sad all of a sudden, and she didn’t speak.
She took the photo and put it in her apron pocket.
“Wait, Gram! I wasn’t finished!”

I pled and pled but she had decided it was time to cook and the conversation had come to a close.
Though I asked, I never saw the photo again.