SPLASHDOWN

“Grandpa, you member that time I was on the slide that one time, and you put the swimming pool under it and it was summer and we were cooking burgers?”

“I remember.”

“And and mom didn’t want me standing at the top but you told her it was fine and you were watching and there was the wavy air coming from the grill and I said how it made your face look all funny looking through it?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Yeah and you called it a cool word and I yelled it out loud and I went down the slide and into the water with all the leaves in it and the bugs. What word did you call it?”

“Refraction.”

“Yeah! And I went down the slide and got a wedgie cause it was all dry on the slide and the hose fell off the top of it and I said ‘Refraction!’ and it was all sticky on my skin cause of how dry it was and it made the fart noises and my face went in the water first. And you member what I said?”

“Mmm mmm.”

“Come on grandpa, you member! You’re smiling!”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah!”

“Hmm… Was it flashbrown?”

“Uh-uh.”

“Slashcrown?”

“Mmm mmm.”

“Stashfrown?”

“No, grandpa!”

“How about… well, no it can’t be.”

“What?”

“It couldn’t possibly be…”

“What, grandpa?!”

“Splashdown?”

“Splashdown! And I jumped out of the pool and swung my arms like this!”

“Oof.”

“I’m sorry, grandpa! I’m sorry! It was an accident!”

“It’s fine. Grandpa’s fine, it’s just the machine. The nurse’ll fix the beeping. Don’t worry.”

“I’m sorry, grandpa.”

“I said it’s fine.”

“I’m sorry you don’t feel good and don’t look good.”

“It’s… look, stop crying. Come here. Come here. It’ll… look here. It’ll be alright. Where… don’t cry, be a big boy. Where I’m going, they’ve got slides everywhere. Honest. And there’s burgers on the grill, too. Big juicy ones. Refraction all the damn time. And you can slide and eat whenever you want to.”

“Why are you sick?”

“Cause that’s what happens sometimes to us old folks who’ve overstayed our welcome. We’ve gotta go some time. Like when I’d have you over in the summers. You couldn’t have stayed with me forever, huh?”

“But I wanted to.”

“Come here. Come here. It’s okay. It’ll be okay. I’ll just be away for a while is all. That’s all.”

“Can I come with?”

“Not yet. Not for a very long time. You promise me that.”

“But–”

“Promise me.”

“Promise.”

“Good. And I promise you something too.”

“What?”

“Any time you need me I’ll be there. Right here.”

“In my heart?”

“In your heart.”

“How?”

“It’s a long story. I’d bore you to tears. And it seems like magic, but it’s not. Just like refraction. Just like the birds in the sky. Like the men that landed on the moon. It’s real.”

“Oh.”

“I mean it. Like that time… you remember the time I showed you the men who landed on the moon?”

“Mmhmm.”

“And their space shuttle lifted off, and soared through the sky, and into space?”

“Yeah.”

“Well that shuttle had to come back some time. It had to make splashdown, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, that’s me. I’m lifting off and soaring through the sky and off into space. And I’ll be gone for a while, and it’ll be sad, but I’ll be back. And when I see you again, you know what I’ll say?”

“What?”

“Splashdown!”

“Splashdown.”

“Hmm hmm.”

“Grandpa?”

“Hmm?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

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