“An Open Letter to My Grandfather” by Anne Highley-Smith

Hey Grandpa,

Remember when we used to draw faces on our hands in pen on the subway? I’d giggle at your stretchy skin and play with your popped out veins. You’d take your giant hand in mine and draw lightly with one of those old fashioned pens, and it would tickle and I would laugh. When we’d finally get home, hands covered in pen, Mom would be so mad at us. She claimed I’d get ink poisoning, and of course I never did. I was eight.

Remember when you used to let me sit on your shoulders and comb your hair? I’d give you all these funny hairstyles and just gabber away. You always listened and laughed along with me. Mom would tell me ‘not to torture’ you, but you never minded.

Remember the time we walked to some donut shop on 40-something and 9th? It was chilly out and we walked under some loud bridge. You said ‘don’t tell your grandma’, and to this day, I haven’t. When we got there, I got a plain donut and a sugar donut. You smiled as I ate.

Remember the Christmas Party when I sat on your lap in front of all those people and sang “Must Be Santa”? At first I was scared, but you made me feel safe as I sang my nine year old heart out. Afterward, I sat on your lap and made pig noises into the microphone. You were my biggest fan.

Remember that one Christmas we were so poor we gave you Big Red gum as a Christmas gift? You may not know this, but when Mom was wrapping it, I asked her for a piece. She told me to wait until you opened it. The second you unwrapped it, you gave me a stick laughing heartily all the while; you must have seen me eyeing it. I was four.

Grandpa, you’d been dead for ten years now, but I want you to know, I never stopped thinking about you. You’d probably tell me ‘Mutt, your hair is too long’ and I’d laugh. But every memory I have of you, you are smiling or laughing. Grandpa, I know you had a tough life, but you did everything so that I grew up happy and loved.

I live my life now with so many “what if’s:

“What if you hadn’t been so sick?”
”What if you had died when I was older or younger?”
“What if you were still alive?”

You were so thin and so frail. When you asked me to hug you, I was scared I would hurt you. But every day, I just wish that ten year old me had just sat on your bed next to you and drew on your hand or anything other than just stand there, frightened of my own grandfather.

You looked at me and showed me off as if I was the most amazing thing to walk on two legs. I trusted you and loved you more than a ten year old could probably ever articulate. I can only hope that you knew.

I wish you had lived to see me now; I think you would have been proud of me.

Love always,
Your Granddaughter

Profile: Anne Highley-Smith

“Scott Adam’s Revenge” by Anne Highley-Smith

So back one day
when the stocks were low and the market was too
I sat at my desk and listened to my boss talk about how I was not selling enough of whatever his company sold
and how his wife should have my job because
she makes him buy things he does not even want
to that I mentioned that she does have sex as a bargaining chip
and that was when he asked me if I was implying that I would sell my body to make more sales but I told him that no one would buy my body and the attempt would only make things awkward between me and the customer
unfortunately he thought I was joking
when I was really being quite serious
so at this point neither of us knew who was joking
about what or about whom
and it was getting very uncomfortable and hot and stuffy in this
three foot by three torture pit they call a cubicle
but just when I was about to ask my boss to leave
he propositioned me
and of course I had to decline because not only was this man my boss
but he was married and his wife was a fragile little thing
who occasionally got too drunk at the Christmas parties and hit on all the custodial workers which was almost funny until it got sad
when she would stumble into a stairwell alone swigging champagne straight from the bottle but as I reminded my boss of his marital commitment
he only scoffed and said that I was a finer piece of ass
than his wife ever was to which I told him I was flattered but I doubted that was true
while I thought to myself that this conversation had taken a rather disturbing turn
especially as he grabbed at my thighs and began to sob wildly and he began asking me
why he wasn’t good enough
screaming that he was great in bed
which is when I punched him hard right in the mouth
and as I felt his teeth lash open the skin of my knuckles and
my vision get sharp
I realized that somewhere in between the yelling and the blood that all my colleagues were standing from their cubicles watching.

Profile: Anne Highley-Smith