I don't remember Grandma moving in. She must've gotten as far as the living room and plopped down her recliner. She didn't have a bedroom, just a bureau (it appeared magically upstairs). Like the chair, we never touched this piece of furniture unless told to (she'd know if we did, it's part of the magic).
Puffy like her, the chair's crinkly material matched her skin in summertime. That's when she guarded us on our fenced-in cement slab out back. Grandma had a glow like the sheen of that fake leather. Its pores sweated out her essence even when she wasn't sitting.
The chair and its entourage of items piled behind and around it, hid one corner of our living room. Because of all the stuff, no way could the chair's head rest tip back to stretch out Grandma. It and Grandma were upright at all times.
No one got into our house without Grandma heralding them. She welcomed neighbors with witty greetings as they slipped through our vestibule: "Hey, Dick. How's
tricks?" or "Hey Joe, don'tcha know...?"
When not entertaining, and the house quieted, she let out roll call: “Where’s Donny? Where’s Allen?” If the one named didn’t answer, she'd send out the nearest scout.
My youngest brother may know what was at the bottom of the heap behind Grandma. She coaxed him to climb on the back of her recliner. Then she grabbed his chunky feet and hoisted him down, head first, behind her into the stuff. He came up with pinking shears on his first descent. "No, that's not it," she said, and let him down again.
Grandma took the fly swatter he came up with on his second upside down trip. "Try again." The rest of us had gathered around.
After the third dip, Benny came up with scraps of material and a centerpiece from the Boy Scout banquet, now a flattened blue and gold blob. My brother was a human crane, the kind you see in convenience stores that grabs prizes with a claw. Each time he emerged, his round face was redder, his blonde hair brighter. His smile strained, and the blue in his eyes drained.
A bit envious, I was mostly glad I wasn’t as compact as Benny. When he retrieved Grandma's plastic reach extender, we cheered and Grandma yelled, “Atta boy, Benny Boy!” On his feet, and no longer red, he staggered into the kitchen. The rest of us jumped up and down asking Grandma if she needed something else from behind her chair.
When Grandma needed something from her bureau, we scattered. Someone had painted this chest of drawers the exact steely silver that streaked from Grandma’s widow's point to the base of her head. Old Gray, with its crystal nobs, cramped the room my sister and I shared. One of us always wound up ascending the stairs to it on a treasure hunt that wasn't fun.
"Don't pull them drawers out too far. They're heavy and'll fall on ya," Grandma called over leadened feet trudging upwards.
The object was in drawer number One with its sharp smell of metal and 3-IN-1 OIL, or Two which puffed talc at me when I swished around the clothes in there, or Three with its grabbing odor of rubber and stockings that could be worn once more before the next washing.
Grandma never believed that the fourth and fifth drawer bottoms were gone. If she insisted something was in drawer number Four or Five, we’d start from Three and work our way up. The lower drawers must've been invisible. I saw the dusty floor beyond wooden strips that supported real drawers. The things we never found must have been (magically) in there.
At the end of the day, moonlight silhouetted this hulk housing Grandma’s personables. Its shadow crossed us as we slept on our cots. But even without this evening shade, the gray form held a presence in our bedroom.
We slept at ease, secure from above and below, resting in the fact that Grandma and her things were permanent.