Honorable mention prose: Grandpa Jacob’s bible
I can hear everything through these walls.
“I just don’t know what to do with him anymore; he seems so lost.” Mom’s on the phone with Grandma. She’s right. I do feel lost.
“Could you take Bradley for a while? I think he could use a change. There’s too much around here to remind him of his father.”
It’s been two months since my dad died in a car accident, but it still feels like yesterday. I’m sure Grandma will say yes, so I start packing my suitcase.
The drive takes all afternoon. We arrive just in time for supper. I begin to wheel my suitcase toward Grandma’s house. It doesn’t roll so easy over the weeds growing through the cracks of the driveway. That always bothered Grandpa Jacob. The yard and house haven’t been the same since Grandpa passed away four years ago from cancer.
The aroma of spicy sausage and the steamy, doughy smell of perogies greet us as we get to the screen door.
“Just leave everything at the door,” smiles Grandma. “Supper’s been ready for five minutes now.” Mom and I enter the lonely kitchen. It wasn’t always that way; it just seems like it now that Grandpa is gone.
“Bradley, you’re just like those weeds on the driveway – always growing!” Grandma says. Grandma always squeezes hard when she hugs. She smells like supper. Now it’s mom’s turn. Big squeeze as well.
Mom leaves right after supper, leaving me and Grandma to do the dishes the old-fashioned way – by hand. Grandma isn’t one for technology and she thinks a dishwasher is a waste for only one person.
“Bradley, do you want to hear something strange?” asks Grandma.
“Okay,” I reply.
“Did you know that Grandpa Jacob was nine years old when he lost his dad?”
“That’s like me.”
“That’s right. And I’ve been thinking. When I met your Grandpa, the first story he ever shared with me was about a Bible he found. Would you be interested in having Grandpa Jacob’s Bible?”
“Sure,” I reply.
“Let’s head to the attic,” Grandma says.
I haven’t been in the attic since Grandpa died. Grandma always hated the attic. I think it’s because she finds it too hard to get up there. It takes Grandma seven tries and then she stretches and pulls down the stairs. She follows me up. The attic is a finished room, but all it contains are a bunch of boxes.
“When Grandpa passed away, your dad packed all these boxes and stored them up here,” Grandma says. “Hopefully we don’t have to go through every one.”
It feels like forever, but with only three boxes remaining, I think I’ve found it. “Is this the one you were talking about, Grandma?”
After my snack, I brush my teeth, change into my pajamas, and climb into bed. Grandma knocks on the door. “Ready for bed?” she asks.
I open Grandpa’s Bible and start to flip through the pages. “Where should I start?” I ask.
“Your Grandpa started with Matthew 18:10–14,” Grandma replies.
Grandma gives me a chance to look for it first, but I’m lost. This book is so big, it should come with a GPS.
“Matthew is the first book in the New Testament. The New Testament is located near the back of the Bible. Once you find the name, the first number I gave you, eighteen, is the chapter and the other numbers, ten to fourteen, are the sentences to read.”
“Oh, kind of like an address. Thanks, Grandma.”
My eyes are so heavy right now it’s a battle to keep them open, but I really want to read what Grandpa read. The title is The Par… how do I pronounce that word?… Par Able of the Lost Sheep.
As I continue to read, something strange happens. The room changes. I’m standing at the bottom of some grassy hills. The sun is setting and the air is cooler.
Where am I? This is getting to be too common with me. I feel lost at home. I felt lost trying to find Matthew. Now I’m lost in some hills!
“What do you think?”
Whoa. Some stranger is talking to me!
“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” he asks, “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
“You know my dad?” I ask, “How?” “I know your dad and your Granddad,” the man replies, “but that is not who I meant when I said, Father in heaven. I was referring to my Father, God. To him, you are not lost. God knows all about you, and wants to be a part of your life.
“Your father and mother love you, your Grandpa and Grandma love you, but most of all God loves you. God doesn’t want you to go through life feeling lost and alone. You can ask God to be your Father, and God will gladly work in your life.
“I told your Grandfather the same thing, Bradley, and the offer’s the same for you.”
“How do you know my name? Who are you?” I ask. “Bradley, my Father knows the names of all his children. He even knows how many hairs you have on your head. My Father and I think you know my name, too.”
“Jesus?” I ask.
“Yes. I found you just like the shepherd found his lost sheep. Whenever you feel lost, I’ll be there for you. And keep reading your Grandpa’s Bible. I have much to teach you, Bradley.”
My eyes open. I’m back in my room. Grandpa Jacob’s Bible covers my chest like a blanket, opened to the page I was reading. Or started to read? Was that real? A dream?
“Bradley!” Grandma calls, “Breakfast is ready!”
The kitchen doesn’t feel lonely like it did last night. Maybe it’s all the food piled on the table: toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, cereal, fruit, and cinnamon buns. Maybe this is a dream too. I pinch myself. Ow.
“Are you okay, Bradley? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost,” Grandma remarks.
“I read that par able…” I say, loading my plate.
Grandma interrupts, “It’s parable, dear.”
“Oh. Thanks. Anyways, I must have fallen asleep while I was reading and had a dream, yet it felt so real.”
“Do I need to make more pancakes?” Grandma asks.
“Huh?” I haven’t been paying attention to all the food I was taking.
“Uh, no, this should do,” I say.
“Funny. Your Grandpa also said his first experience felt real,” Grandma says, “but he didn’t mention anything about having a big appetite afterwards. Is everything okay? You seem different.”
“Yeah,” I reply, “I do feel different. I’m not just hungry for breakfast. I feel kinda hungry to know more about the Bible, too.”
I can see the backyard through the kitchen window as I eat. The grass is green, like the hills in my dream, and tall. Grandpa hated it when the grass got long. So did Dad.
Funny. I don’t feel so lost. It’s as if Grandpa Jacob’s Bible helped me find a new Father, and now I’m found.