Darlene P. Campos earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is from Guayaquil, Ecuador but she currently lives in Houston, Texas with an adorable pet rabbit named Jake. She is the author of Behind Mount Rushmore, published through Vital Narrative Press. She is working on her second forthcoming novel, Summer Camp is Cancelled, which features characters from her short story Mason Jars. Since 2001, her creative works have been selected for publication in journals such as A Celebration of Young Poets, Prism Review, Glass Mountain, Crunchable, Alfie Dog and many others. In addition, she is the prose winner of the Glass Mountain poetry and prose contest and the recipient of the Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize. Her website is www.darlenepcampos.com.
The day Grandpa Hector died, I was at school. Mrs. Medina was in the middle of the morning math lesson when the intercom came on.
“Mrs. Medina, please send Lyndon Baines Juan Perez to the office.”
The whole class said “ooooooh” like I had really screwed up. I grabbed my backpack and walked to the office where I saw Dad with a big frown on his face.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“Lyndon, kiddo,” he said, bending down to me. “Grandpa Hector died. If you need to cry, it’s okay. Boys can cry, too. I cry all the time.”
“Sure! Every time I pay the bills,” he said, laughing weirdly, but I didn’t laugh back. I walked outside with Dad to his Cadillac. He drove to St. Ignatius Hospital where we met up with Mom. She was walking all over the lobby. She would cry, then seem okay, and then cry even louder. I didn’t see Grandma Raquel anywhere.
“Where’s Grandma Raquel?” I asked Mom. She dried her tears and said, “In the room with Grandpa Hector.”
“Can I go in?”
“I don’t know, Lyndon,” Dad said. “You’re only eleven. It might be too much for you.”
“I can do it,” I said, even if I wasn’t sure. I had seen dead people before, but never someone I was related to. Our church, St. Francis Catholic Church, held funerals every couple months. Seeing a dead body was a little creepy to me, but this was Grandpa Hector.
“Please Dad?” I said. “I’ll be okay, I promise.”
“Uhm,” Dad said, tugging at his shirt collar. “Donna? What do I do here?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take him,” Mom said. “Just wait for us here.” Dad took a seat and I followed Mom to the elevators. We went up to a place called ICU. It was bright, but the rooms were all dark, like they were keeping secrets. Mom led me to Grandpa Hector’s room. She rubbed my shoulders before we went in.
“He’s sleeping, you know,” she said.
“I thought he was dead.”
“Dead is like sleeping, you sleep much longer.”
“I’m not little anymore, Mom,” I said. “I know what dead means.”
Mom opened the curtain slowly. Grandma Raquel sat by Grandpa Hector. Her eyes were swollen. She said my name quietly and hugged me tight. When she let go, I looked at Grandpa Hector. His eyes were closed and he had a smile on his face, as if he heard a good joke right before he died. The dead people I saw at church didn’t always look good. Some of them did, but some of them looked scared, confused, or sad.
“What happened to him?” I asked.
“He had a heart attack,” Grandma Raquel said. “Don’t be too upset about this, Lyndon. Just remember what church says about death, okay?”
I tried to remember whatever church said. Nothing came to my head. Father Gonzalez talked so much, I usually stopped listening after a minute or two. Grandpa Hector once said if Father Gonzalez was ever canonized as a saint, he’d be St. Talkus of Talkenville.
“Oh yeah,” I lied to Grandma Raquel. “I remember everything church said about death.”
I sat down by Grandpa Hector. Mom and Grandma Raquel cried a lot and I did too, but not as much. Grandpa Hector was the only one in the room smiling. Father Gonzalez stopped by to rub anointing oil on Grandpa Hector. While he rubbed the oil, Dad came in, looking confused.
“What are you going to do? Deep fry him?” Dad asked.
“You shut up!” Grandma Raquel said. “Go on, Father.”
“I’m all done now,” Father Gonzalez said. He stepped back to look at Grandpa Hector. Father Gonzalez was super tall, tallest person in all of Bat Springs, Texas. His eyes were always tight and his face screamed “You’re going to hell.”
“Since you’re all here, we can discuss funeral plans,” Father Gonzalez said. “It’s been a long time since I saw Mr. Hector. Was he at Mass in the last few weeks?”
“No, he hadn’t gone since last Christmas,” Mom said, shrugging her shoulders.
“He was a good Catholic though!” Grandma Raquel butted in. “He read his Bible every morning, prayed every night, and had a rosary somewhere, I think.”
Father Gonzalez scratched his head. Grandpa Hector hated church. I mean, he didn’t hate church – he hated how long church took. Mass with Father Gonzalez lasted three or four hours. Grandpa Hector couldn’t stand that. He barely went to Mass, but whenever there was a church event like a bake sale or cook-off, he’d be there for the free food. He wasn’t the most knowledgeable Catholic either. Once I asked him how many saints there were and he said, “Enough to make me consider being a Protestant, I ain’t counting them.”
“I’m not sure I can conduct Mr. Hector’s funeral,” Father Gonzalez said. “I didn’t know him very well. But I’ll pray about it.” He hugged us all, prayed for way too long, and then left the room. I swore Grandpa Hector smiled a little more when Father Gonzalez was done talking.
The next day, Father Gonzalez agreed to conduct Grandpa Hector’s funeral service. But, Grandpa Hector wasn’t going to be buried at St. Francis’ cemetery. Two hours before Grandpa Hector died, he told Grandma Raquel he wanted his funeral in El Paso and then he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes sent back to us in Bat Springs. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, he wanted me to take half of his ashes and put him somewhere perfect in Bat Springs.
“What?!” I said as we shopped at Suit City for my funeral-going clothes. “Grandma, El Paso’s EIGHT hours away! Where am I supposed to put him anyway?!”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “That’s what he wanted.”
“How are we gonna get him in the car? He doesn’t fit!”
“We’re not taking him, the funeral home will pick him up and we’ll follow.”
The sound of that was super creepy. It sounded like a horror movie where Grandpa Hector would bust out of his coffin and take us to the afterlife with him. Then again, he would never do something like that. He liked lounging around so much, he would only get up if he really had to – why would he bust through his coffin if he was already lying down?
“What about this one? It’s not so bad,” Grandma Raquel said and showed me a dark brown suit. I tried it on in the fitting room. It was a little loose under the sleeves, but nothing Grandma Raquel couldn’t fix.
“Are you sure you like this one?” she asked. “We can get any suit in here.”
She was right – we could get whatever I wanted. El Paso Paradise, the restaurant we owned, made us a lot of money, I mean LOTS of money. We had money, but we lived like regular people. The only thing that was different was whenever we had a problem that needed money to solve it, the problem was solved quick. Money is great when you need it. It’s not so great when it can’t help you. All the money couldn’t save Grandpa Hector from his heart attack. All the money couldn’t bring him back.
“No,” I said. “This one’s good.”
“It really is,” Grandma Raquel said. “Do you want some lunch?”
I wasn’t hungry, but Grandma Raquel made me eat. We skipped El Paso Paradise because it was always packed during lunch time, so Grandma Raquel took me to her house. The house felt empty without Grandpa Hector there. He hardly ever went anywhere, even to El Paso Paradise. Ninety percent of the time, Grandpa Hector was at home, lying on the couch watching TV. If he wasn’t watching TV, he was on the phone talking to his relatives in El Paso or in Chihuahua, Mexico, or organizing his mason jars. He built a secret cabinet in the kitchen and stuffed it with mason jars. Each jar had something different. One had gumballs, one had lollipops, one had licorice, one had gummy worms, and the rest were filled with more candies, foods, and seasonings. Grandpa Hector didn’t like doing much, but one thing he would do every week was organize his mason jars, one by one.
“Here you go, Lyndon,” Grandma Raquel said, handing me a plate of chicken tacos. She sat next to me at the kitchen table. Her eyes puffed like she was about to cry, but she didn’t.
“What’s one thing you really miss about your abuelito?” she asked.
I couldn’t think of anything. Grandpa Hector was decent, I guess. He wasn’t mean or scary. He was just there. He would get weird obsessions about certain foods, especially papayas. When I was in third grade, an article in the Bat Springs Gazette said papayas were good for the heart and Grandpa Hector bought 20 papayas the same day. He kept on buying a bunch of papayas for months. Grandpa Hector also cut big holes in papayas and stuck his feet in them every morning. I’d see him every day during my walk to school. He’d be sitting in a chair on the porch, just soaking his feet in his papaya shoes. I would always pretend I didn’t see him, but he’d always wave and say “The papayas say hi too!”
“Uhm,” I said. “I don’t miss his papayas.”
“Nobody misses his papayas, Lyndon.”
“I miss him,” I said, not even knowing what I meant. Sure, I missed him, I just didn’t know why I missed him.
“What do you miss the most about him, Grandma?” I asked her.
“Oh,” she said. “Come to think of it more, I think I miss his papayas.”
Two days later, Mom, Dad, and me got in Grandma Raquel’s car and we started the drive to El Paso. During the first hour of the drive, Grandma Raquel played a game with me called “Spot a Different State License Plate.” That wasn’t very fun because most of the cars were from Texas. I was really bored and we still had seven hours to go.
“Are you hungry, nieto?” Grandma Raquel said. “We can stop somewhere if you want.”
We did stop, but only for a short bathroom break and snacks. I didn’t get anything. I hadn’t been hungry since the day Grandpa Hector went to the hospital. That was a strange day all around. It was a Sunday afternoon, right after Mass, and he came over to help Grandma Raquel make a big tamale order. He didn’t even know how to make tamales. He made a couple with her and then he said, “Lyndon, go tell your mother I’m not feeling good, please.” So I told Mom, but since she was busy taking catering orders, she asked Dad to take Grandpa Hector to the hospital. I didn’t know he would never come back to El Paso Paradise again but go “to watch TV with Jesus” as he would say.
“You sure you don’t want anything?” Dad said. “A growing boy like you who eats like he has five stomachs?”
“I’m fine, Dad,” I said. “Maybe later.”
For the next stretch of the drive, Dad took the wheel. I sat in the backseat between Grandma Raquel and Mom. They kept talking about how cute I was and how handsome I looked in a suit and how they were excited to take pictures of me to send to relatives I didn’t even know. Grandma Raquel pinched my cheeks twice. She called me her guapito. Mom kissed my forehead and said I was the handsomest boy ever. I wanted to puke.
“Your abuelito always talked about how cute you are,” Grandma Raquel said. “You kind of look like him, so guapo!”
“Grandma!” I said. “You’re gonna kill me!”
“Be quiet and accept your cuteness!” Grandma Raquel said.
“Mom! Don’t scare him!” Mom said to her. Dad just laughed.
“Kid is cute, he looks just like me,” Dad said as he sped the car up. Finally, the car topic shifted from me being cute to politics. Mom, Dad, and Grandma Raquel talked about things I didn’t understand, so I tuned them out in my head. I thought about El Paso, even if this was going to be my first time visiting it. I thought about Bat Springs. I thought about my house, El Paso Paradise, and even about Father Gonzalez’s “you’re going to hell” face. But, for some reason, it didn’t matter how many thoughts I had. Grandpa Hector kept coming back into my mind. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about him at all. I thought about his closet full of guayaberas, his papayas, and his mason jars. I thought about him wearing those horrible papaya shoes and waving to me as I walked to school. We Catholics believe there are three possible places you go to after you die and they’re either Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell. Father Gonzalez said Grandpa Hector was most likely in Purgatory because he wasn’t a religious Catholic, but something told me he went to Heaven. I could bet he was up there trying to convince God to wear papaya shoes.
“I’m just saying I don’t think LBJ was that great!” Dad said. He said it so loud, my thoughts about Grandpa Hector disappeared.
“And I’m saying you’re an idiot!” Grandma Raquel said back to him. “After all he did for you and this family, you want to say Nixon was better?”
“I never said that!”
“Both of you shut up! You’re scaring Lyndon!” Mom said. “Right Lyndon?”
“No,” I said. “I’m not scared of LBJ, we have the same name.”
“Your dad’s an idiot!” Grandma Raquel said. She and Dad argued back and forth. Whenever Grandma Raquel and Dad got into their political debates, Grandpa Hector would say “I’d rather go to Mass than listen to this.” I really wanted to hear him say that right then.
We made it to El Paso around midnight. We were going to stay with Aunt Elena, Grandpa Hector’s little sister. She opened her front door and stood on the porch dressed in a long, black nightgown, as if she was the Grim Reaper.
“Who’s this kid?” Aunt Elena said in a scrawny voice. “El nieto de Hector?”
“No!” I said. Mom, Dad, and Grandma Raquel stared at me. Aunt Elena stepped down from her porch, walked slowly towards me, and looked into my eyes.
“Yes?” I said, shaking.
“You look like your abuelito. Be grateful you do – you could’ve looked like me,” she said and led us inside her house so we could get some sleep.
Aunt Elena had six kids – three daughters and three sons, but none of them lived in El Paso. The room I slept in was plastered with pictures of her kids. When I woke up the next morning, I noticed more pictures. Some were pictures of her dead husband, Gregorio, whom I never met. Others were of Grandpa Hector and their other siblings whom I also never met. It was a wall full of strangers and one familiar face.
“Hey you!” Aunt Elena said as she knocked on the door. “You awake? By the time you get out of there, it’ll be time for my funeral!”
I opened the door and Aunt Elena stood in front of me with a black veil over her face. If I hadn’t known who she was, I would’ve sworn it was my time to die.
“Put your suit on!” she said. “Your abuelo is waiting.” She slammed the door behind her. I quickly changed out of my pajamas and into my suit. I didn’t see why I had to look good. Grandpa Hector wasn’t even wearing a suit in his coffin. Grandma Raquel told me he asked for his favorite baby blue guayabera, black slacks, and his beat up sandals he wore around the house. If Grandpa Hector wasn’t wearing anything formal, I didn’t see why I had to. I could also bet the first thing he did when he got to Heaven was give God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit guayaberas.
“Ready, Lyndon?” I heard Dad say from behind the door. “We’re having breakfast and then it’ll be time for the funeral.”
“I’m ready,” I said and rushed to open the door. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Eggs and beans,” he said. “I used to eat that for breakfast every morning when I was your age, kiddo.”
“That must’ve been a long, long time ago.”
“Lyndon, would you like a funeral today?” Dad said, shaking his head.
After breakfast, I sat in between Grandma Raquel and Mom in the car again. Dad sat by Aunt Elena at the front, asking her how she had been doing lately.
“Husband’s dead, friends are dead, now brother’s dead, what do you think?” she said.
“Sorry to hear,” Dad answered. “Hey, at least this funeral’s not a new thing for you.”
We were the first ones at the funeral home. Dad went inside first and Mom was right behind him. Grandma Raquel and Aunt Elena stayed outside. I opened the funeral home door and like the bedroom I stayed in the night before, there were pictures all over the place. There were pictures of Grandpa Hector when he was a kid, pictures when he was in high school, pictures from his goldmining days, pictures when he married Grandma Raquel, and pictures of him holding Mom when she was tiny. It was a museum just for him. I only knew Grandpa Hector as an old man who didn’t do much of anything. I never saw a different side of him.
“Lyndon?” Grandma Raquel said. She startled me so bad, I yelled “Ah!” right in her face and she said, “You shut up or I’ll put you in the coffin with Grandpa Hector!”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t know it was you.”
“Want me to send Aunt Elena over here?”
“No!” I said with a big gulp.
“Then straighten up,” Grandma Raquel said. “Here, let me fix your hair. I just saw Grandpa Hector in his coffin and his hair is better than yours and he’s dead.” She pulled out a comb and a water bottle from her giant, unorganized purse. She poured water on my hair, enough to make it damp. Grandma Raquel gently combed my hair. When she was done, she kissed me and said, “Te quiero, mi nieto.” Even though I didn’t speak Spanish well, I understood.
“Are you ready to go in, Lyndon?” Mom said, sniffling.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Dad said. “Remember that, Lyndon.”
“I want to,” I said. Grandma Raquel took my hand, like I was a little kid, and led me through the chapel doors. The first thing I spotted was the coffin. There were already tons of people sitting at the pews, people I didn’t recognize, but somehow they knew me because they said my name. Aunt Elena and Father Gonzalez stood at the front of the room. I walked to Grandpa Hector’s coffin. The smile he had at the hospital was still there.
“Isn’t he handsome, nieto?” Grandma Raquel said. “He was so guapo, just like you. I remember the first time I saw him. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a man I need to kiss right away!’”
“You’re here because me and Grandpa Hector kissed! Shut it!”
I sat down at the front pew with Mom, Dad, and Grandma Raquel next to me and Aunt Elena behind us with her giant, black veil. Father Gonzalez talked about Grandpa Hector for a long time. He made Grandpa Hector seem like he was the most active person in the world and I guess he was a long time ago. When it came to lounging around, Grandpa Hector was the king. He deserved it though. Grandpa Hector used to be a gold miner, a construction worker, and a welder. He spent most of his life on his feet, so why wouldn’t he want to lounge around later in life? I remember one Mass when Father Gonzalez asked everyone to tell the person sitting next to them what they thought Heaven looked like. Grandpa Hector, who was actually there for some reason, whispered to me, “Heaven’s a big, comfy couch and you never need to get up, nieto.”
“By the time this man’s done talking, I’ll be dead,” Dad said in my ear. Grandma Raquel glared at him. Mom kept her eyes on Grandpa Hector’s coffin. I don’t think she even listened to whatever Father Gonzalez was saying. To be honest, I think everyone stopped listening after the first hour. The luckiest one in the room was Grandpa Hector – he didn’t have to listen to Father Gonzalez’s marathon talking at all.
“It is time for us to say our last goodbyes to our beloved Hector Patricio Orozco,” Father Gonzalez announced, his eyes piercing. “This wonderful man of God wasn’t active at church, but he is active now in Heaven.” Grandma Raquel got up first. She touched the edge of the coffin and blew a kiss to Grandpa Hector. Mom did the same. Dad waved to Grandpa Hector instead.
“He wouldn’t want his son-in-law kissing him, no way,” Dad said. “Your turn, kiddo.”
I looked at Grandpa Hector’s face one last time. I swore he was breathing, but I knew he wasn’t. Mom touched my shoulder. She whispered, “It’ll be okay, Lyndon. He loved you.”
“I know,” I said. “I loved him back.”
After everyone left, it was just me, Dad, Mom, and Grandma Raquel in the room. Grandma Raquel stayed close to the coffin. She blew Grandpa Hector more kisses.
“I miss you already,” Grandma Raquel said to him. “I think after this we’ll all buy some papayas and new mason jars.”
I didn’t blow any kisses to Grandpa Hector. I just looked at his big smile. He must have been hearing good jokes in Heaven or wearing brand new papayas shoes and waving at the angels as they passed him by.
“All right, let’s go,” Grandma Raquel said. “We have a long drive ahead of us.”
About three weeks later, Grandpa Hector’s ashes arrived at El Paso Paradise. Grandma Raquel signed for the package and carried it to the business office in the back. Dad was there finalizing a catering order on the phone. Once he hung up, he grabbed a pair of scissors to cut the packaging tape off.
“Careful, don’t jab around too much,” Grandma Raquel said. “You’ll cut him up.”
“I can’t cut him up, he’s burnt to pieces like the fajitas you made last night.”
“I’ll fajita you!” she yelled at Dad. Mom came in when Dad finally got the package open. He pulled out a black box. It had a label on it that said “Remains of Hector P. Orozco.”
“He’s heavy,” Dad said. “So, what are we doing with him?”
“Father Gonzalez says cremated Catholics are supposed to be in a Catholic cemetery,” I said. “Right? I think that’s what he says. Guess I can’t touch the ashes then!”
“Grandpa Hector wasn’t as Catholic as Father Gonzalez,” Mom said. “He wanted you to put half of the ashes in a mason jar and the other half somewhere nice.”
“What?!?” I said, gasping. “I can’t stuff him in a jar!”
“Oh, nieto, you’re not shoving him into a jar! No, actually, you are,” Grandma Raquel said, shrugging her shoulders.
“Why don’t we put him in the cemetery? He won’t know, he’s dead,” I said.
“Lyndon, we need to do what he wanted,” Grandma Raquel said. “Tonight, I’ll pick out the biggest mason jar we got and you’ll do the honors, okay?”
I stayed with Mom and Dad at El Paso Paradise until closing time. After the last customer left, we cleaned up and then headed to Grandma Raquel’s. I didn’t know how I was going to put Grandpa Hector in a jar. How would he fit? Why the heck did he want to be in a jar anyway? It would have made more sense to bury him in a papaya shaped coffin.
“You ready to do this, Lyndon?” Dad said when we got to Grandma Raquel’s.
“No way,” I said. “Like Grandpa Hector would say, I’d rather go to Mass.”
“Lyndon!” Mom said.
Grandma Raquel opened her front door before we even knocked. She held the black box with Grandpa Hector’s ashes against her chest.
“All right, Lyndon, time to stuff him,” she said. “Hurry it up before his spirit starts haunting my house.” When she put the box down on the kitchen table, it made a big thump. I couldn’t believe Grandpa Hector was ashes in a box. He was a living, breathing person just weeks before. Now, he was only dust.
“Go on, Lyndon, he won’t bite,” Mom said.
“Not like he can,” Dad said.
“I can!” Grandma Raquel answered him. I opened the box’s lid and pulled the sealed bag out. Grandma Raquel placed a huge mason jar on the table with an empty bag next to it.
“Just about half or so, nieto,” she said. “Remember you’re in charge of the rest.”
Dad snipped the bag of ashes with his pocket knife. I opened the empty bag and Dad slowly poured part of the ashes into it. When about half of the ashes were in, I told Dad to stop pouring so I could tie the bag shut. I made five, strong knots.
“I still don’t know why he wanted to be in a jar,” I said, shrugging. Then I gently pushed the bag of ashes into the jar and closed the lid as tight as I could.
It took me a month to decide where the rest of Grandpa Hector’s ashes would go. I couldn’t think of anywhere he would like, especially because he never went anywhere. Dad suggested scattering him at Bat Springs Park, Mom said behind El Paso Paradise, Grandma Raquel said, “Find a place fast before he comes back to haunt you in your sleep.” Since Grandpa Hector hardly ever went outside, I had no idea where he would want his ashes to be. But, one place made a little bit of sense.
“Here?” Mom said when I told her we could keep him in our house.
“Yeah,” I said. “I mean, where else would I put him?”
“Are you sure that won’t creep you out, kiddo?” Dad asked.
“No,” I said with a big gulp. “Well, maybe a little bit. But it’s only Grandpa Hector. He wouldn’t be a scary ghost, he’d just sit somewhere.”
“Where on earth are we going to put him?” Mom asked. “He barely ever came over, he didn’t have a favorite spot in this house.”
“I have an idea,” I said. “I’ll put him somewhere safe, I promise.”
“Okay, kiddo, as long as you think it’s a good place,” Dad said. “Abuelo will like whatever you came up with.”
The next day, Grandma Raquel found another empty mason jar in her house and she helped me put the rest of the ashes into it. We used super glue to keep the lid shut forever.
“Where are you going to put him, nieto?” Grandma Raquel asked as she stroked my hair.
“A secret spot in my house,” I said. “I think he’ll like it a lot.”
“I’m sure he will as long as you picked it,” she said and hugged me. “Be careful, okay? I’ll be home all day if you get hungry later.”
I carefully carried the jar back home. Mom and Dad were going to be at El Paso Paradise until late that day. I had the house all to myself for a couple of hours. I slowly went up the stairs with the jar gripped to my chest. When I made it, I put the jar down on the floor and opened up the wooden stairwell to the attic, even though Mom and Dad never let me go up there without them. They said the height of the attic scared me too much and honestly, it did.
“All right, I don’t know who the patron saint of heights is, but someone help me,” I said as I made my way up to the attic with the jar in my right arm. I finally got inside the attic without falling over or dropping the jar. My heart beat so fast, I thought I was going to puke. The attic had a big window in the center and the sun shined right in my face. The sun is strong all over the world, but I swear it’s stronger in Texas. I walked towards the window, the sun almost blinding me, and I placed the jar on the windowsill. From the attic’s window, you could see nearly all of Bat Springs – that’s how high up the attic was from my house. I looked down and for the first time, I wasn’t scared of heights.
“Grandpa Hector,” I said. “I think you’ll like this view. I miss you a lot. I hope you’re lounging around, eating papayas, putting stuff in jars – whatever you wanted to do forever.”
The sun shined even more as I looked out the window. Grandpa Hector only lived in Bat Springs for ten years and the town felt so weird without him around. Bat Springs was a perfect set of teeth until he died. Grandpa Hector was the baby tooth you lose when you least expect it and your mouth feels super different right away. Grandpa Hector wouldn’t be lounging on his couch, screaming on the phone, reorganizing his jars, or bringing 50,000 papayas over to my house. I couldn’t help but think about how I wouldn’t see him wearing his papaya shoes during my walk to school anymore.
But he’d be watching me from the attic’s window every time I walked outside.
And from then on, I’d wave.
And he’d wave back, even if I couldn’t see him.
Mason Jars is one of the three winners of the 2017 DWL Short Story Contest. Read the other winning entries here. Darlene P. Campos is also the recipient of the 2017 Dastaan Award for this short story.