By Trudy A. Martinez
Normally in the morning when my grandmother awakes, my aunt will attend to her needs, but this summer, I am to be her little helper. When I agreed to be her little helper, I had no idea that she would be my alarm clock. Promptly at 5:00 A.M., she goes off: “TRU-U-U DY.” she calls out, pronouncing each syllable of my name separately as if to transform it from one name into two. The sound of the vowel is intense, imitating the doleful howl of a wolf.
“TRU-U-U DY,” she repeats. As the stress of the syllables gain intensity, the tone of her voice rises, producing an irritating ring in my ear. Then just as abruptly, her voice drops to a sweet mellow tone that sounds almost like a whisper. “Are you up, Buttercup?” She asks. The expression of endearment (Buttercup) softens the rude harshness of my awakening and soothes my senses.
“I am now.” I quickly reply, preventing her from repeating the episode. “What on earth can she want at this hour of the morning?” I think as my brain slowly came out of its dream-like state. “Perhaps, she misplaced her cane.” I reason as I hop out of bed. “Granny needs her cane,” I assure myself, “–to find her way to the bathroom.” I continue to justify my thinking as I make my way down the hall to her room, “The cane is like another leg to Granny, strong and sturdy; it assists her old weary bones by holding up her aggregated frame.” As I approach the doorway, her words greet me.
“Buttercup,” she says sweetly as I enter the room,” I want you to give me my shot this morning.”
“You want me to do what?” I said, questioning the words tingling in my ears; they send chills down my spine, feeding the surface of my skin with blossoming goose bumps.
“I want you to give me my insulin shot,” she repeats.
“Aunt Peg said she will give you your shot before she leaves.” I shudder to think I will need to do it. “I am only nine years old.” I add, trying to convince her I wasn’t worthy of such an honor. “Besides,” I continue “I don’t know how,” thinking the matter is now settled and my final reply will put an end to such an outrageous idea.
“I’ll teach you,” she quickly replies in a reassuring tone. “You may be only nine,” she says, smiling. “But you look and act much older.” As she continues to butter me up, she reaches for my hand, grasping it and squeezing it gently as she speaks. “I am confident you can do it,” she says. “Say you will,” She pleads. “Say you will.” Granny’s eyes are small and gray; they appear like passage ways that led into the inner depth of her being, pleading with me long after her words cease.
“Okay,” I stammer out slowly, hesitating and then adding, “But, –I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t. Now go–get the insulin out of the ice box.”
“You mean the refrigerator, Granny,” I say laughingly, correcting her and bringing her back into the present as I leave the room.
When I return (moments later), I find Granny sitting on the edge of the bed with her feet dangling. In my absence, she seems to have been transformed into a different person. Her eyes are no longer pale gray. Instead, they appear dark and sinister. The gentleness is gone; they are now huge monstrous looking eyes, piercing the depth of my soul. I feel like Little Red Riding Hood, wanting to scream out, “Granny, what big eyes you have!” while anticipating her answer: “Better to see you with my dear.” My mind races. Then I notice Granny’s glasses are no longer sitting on the night stand; they are sitting on the bridge of her nose. I giggle inwardly and smile. The glass is thick, thick as the glass of a coke bottle; they magnify; they intensify her every glance. Occasionally a slight tint of a rainbow can be seen when she moves her head slightly.
“What’s the matter with you Buttercup?” her sweet voice hums.
“Oh, nothing,” I reply, smiling sheepishly.
“Get the syringe out the bottom drawer,” she orders. I obey. She gives me step-by-step directions on how to fill the syringe with the insulin, interjecting how much she hates for my Aunt Peg to do it. She says, “Your Aunt Peg jabs the needle in my leg as if she was attacking a wild animal.”
I laugh as I gently prick her skin, push slowly inward, and release the medication from the syringe as she instructs.
“Ah-h-h,” she exclaims, “–that didn’t hurt at all! You did well.” Then she looks at me questionably and asks, “Why were you laughing?”
“Granny,” I said bravely, “When I came back to the room just now–”
“Yes,” she says, coaxing me on when I hesitate.
“I–I imagined you were–.” I hesitated again, and then blurt out, “The Big Bad Wolf.”
Granny roars out laughing, waking Aunt Peg who instantly appears at the doorway like a hunter seeking his prey. When Granny finally gets a grip on herself, she says, “Buttercup, you just made my day.” The she turns to look over at Aunt Peg and says, “You’ve been replaced–I’ve already been shot today.