Thursday, February 2, 2012

Uncle Wilbur


I peeled the bright sticker from it's backing, and the stiff edge slid underneath my fingernails. 
"Here," I said, and laughed shyly.
The man with white hair leaned down toward me, and my toes held me up as I reached toward his cap. I pressed the shiny sticker onto the blue front and rested back on my heels.
"Perfect," he said, patting the tip of his hat. "That's just right."


He lifted the faded cap off his head. "See?" he said to me. "It's still here." His voice sank to a conspiratorial whisper. "My wife wants to wash it, but then it'll come off." 
He pointed to the peeling edges of the rainbow colored sticker. "It's still there!" he said again to assure me, and I nodded happily.


I stood taller, shyer, and listened as he said goodbye to them. My teeth bit the edge of my lips, until he looked at me and smiled.
"The sticker came off," he said regretfully, and I nodded.
"That's okay," I said. He remembered!
"I tried to stick it back on," he explained, "but it wouldn't stay."
I ran to the van, scrambling back into my row. I yanked out my bag, rummaging wildly between the books and paper. There they are. I jumped out of the van and spied his retreating figure walking up the hill with his cane. I ran to catch up, pulling to a stop beside him.
"Here," I said, and laughed happily as I pushed the yellow sticker onto his brown cap.


I sat next to his lawn chair on the porch.
"I have hot chocolate," he said, smiling. "Do you like hot chocolate?"
"Yeah," I said, laughing.
"I like it when there's marshmallows in it," he said in a confiding voice. "The little soft ones, that when you swallow they go down like--" he tilted his neck down and gulped dramatically as he popped up his head, and he made me laugh again.
I looked out at the sunlit lawn. "I think we have to go," I said, standing slowly and looking at his bare cap and plaid shirt.
Leaning over, I wrapped my arms around his shoulders. As I let go, he sat forward and kissed my cheek with his smiling mouth. "That's a peck," he said. "A peck on the cheek." He squeezed my hand with his rough brown one.
"Here," I said, and laughed softly as I kissed his cheek and said goodbye.

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