A Tin Pan on a Blue-Shaded Afternoon

Allow a father to share about his daughter writing about his father, her grandfather....


My daughter just received notice that her piece--A Tin Pan on a Blue-Shaded Afternoon--has won her a spot among the 2011 Gold Key Recipients from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers contest for Scholastic Writing and Art !!
Congratulations to the Gold Key recipients and to all of the students who submitted writing! Since 1923, The Awards have recognized some of America’s most celebrated writers while they were teenagers, including: Truman Capote, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Maynard, Sherley Anne Williams, Joyce Carol Oates, and Sylvia Plath. We’re proud to count Gold Key recipients among them and this generation's rising writers!
The author of A Tin Pan on a Blue-Shaded Afternoon--Aida Rosalia Guhlin--was kind enough to share her piece for publication below, as it goes forward to national judging:


A Tin Pan on a Blue-Shaded Afternoon

Aida R. Guhlin


The kittens mewed as I left them behind, and the puppies yelped as I carried them one by one in my  mouth. Then, I fiddled with the brass cannon and for a short time, I pretended to spy on invisible characters that wished to kidnap my precious dogs. But then, my stomach mumbled. I tiptoed to the edge of the stairs and peered at the living room spread before me.

The room is shaded blue in mid-afternoon. They turned off the TV, so I was trying to be as delicate-footed as a mouse as I padded around the upstairs with my babies. The stuffed kittens and puppies had been fun to play mother to, but the pangs of hunger managed to snatch away all imagination, ripping apart the realm I created. Now, all I see is the gray carpet, the brown and cream sofa, the black TV, and the shaded blue room. Everything is shaded light blue.

One piece of furniture is the orange recliner, a warm tangerine that manages to glow even in the lazy afternoon shade. Nestled inside the fuzzy folds, feet propped up, is the tiny woman, feet brown and small in their sandals, fingers lazily stretched on the armrests and mouth slightly agape as her eyelids flutter, hinting to unknown dreams. I stop, and sit on my haunches as a dog. Watching. She is so silent, her grayish-white hairs mushrooming up against the crocheted decoration she designed herself. I begin to fiddle with the burnt orange fabric that bunches on the footrest, wondering if I should dare wake her up. She looks so peaceful and--“SCHAAAAUGHW!!”

Eyes wide, fingers immediately gone from the chair, I look in surprise at the other recliner. Brown and tan, with hard wooden armrests, this quite large recliner is shrunken compared to the tall oak of my grandfather inside of it.

He is so tall that even with his giant’s feet up, he still sits at almost a right angle. His feet still have their shoes on, though I don’t know of a time when they were ever off. They are black and leather, and I rise over them to see his stomach barely covered by a gray shirt with the tire-tread hued letters A-R-M-Y across the chest. Over the large hill, I see his noisemaker, a large, Swedish schnoz holding up gleaming bifocals and the well-groomed shock of white hair that matches the tailored mustache. He seems closer to the Land of the Awake, but I am small and he is gargantuan. Should I wake a giant?

I sit, watching, hoping that through sheer willpower I can wake him. But my puppy underneath my shirt growls angrily and I realize there is but one thing to do.

He snorts awake almost immediately and the clank from the footrest of his chair is startling in the broken silence as he shoves his it down to look at me.

I look up high at his rectangular head and feel even smaller than before.

“Can I have some peanut butter and Ritz crackers?”

He smiles and lowers his feet to the ground to head to the kitchen. I scamper to the bathroom to wash my hands and when I return, the afternoon shade hasn’t taken away its blue tint, but the quiet is certainly gone. My grandmother still sleeps, a feat surely only from years of practice. It is hard for most to sleep through the noise, because my grandfather, is singing.

Moooo-oona Liiiisaaa…” he warbles and I giggle as I trip after him around the kitchen as he gathers the Ritz crackers and Hill Country Fair Peanut Butter from the pantry, a silver butter-knife from the drawer by the sink and –

Little acknowledgement, but I am free to pull back the wooden apricot-colored door that is close to the ground and gently pull out a small, round pie tin pan which bangs against the sides as my unsteady grip moves around on its own accord. I smile as I hop up five inches and reach the tin pan out to my grandfather’s large, thick hand.

Soon, I am staring at the curved tin, smeared with peanut butter as salty crumbs tumble into the tarnished steel gray. The puppy is content and I grin at grandpa who is warning me not to get any crumbs on his carpet. He just vacuumed this morning.

I promise that I never would do such a thing.

Mooo-oooonnnaaaa Liiisssa….you’re so like the lady with the mystic smile…for that Monalisa strangeness in your smile?

I smile at him and watch as he dances and sings over the gray carpet and through the blue-shaded afternoon.

Monalisa, Monalisaaaaaaaa….




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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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