I used to stare at my grandfather’s whiskered face as he slept. His breathing labored and shallow as he lay nearly motionless in his weathered rocking chair. He would often spend his afternoons like this out on the screen porch looking out over the farmyard he loved so much. Some days a baseball game would crackle on the am radio in the background and somedays it would be silent. The smell of stale cigarette smoke mingled with the fresh country air forming the bouquet that was my grandfathers porch.
My hand would rest on the smooth wooden arm rest of his chair and I would stare at the white whiskers that graced his face. They were too short to be considered a beard and too long to be considered five o’clock shadow. As I stared at his weatherbeaten face I would imagine myself shrinking down to a microscopic size and running around his face. I would hide amongst the whiskers, although they were no longer whisker but large white birch tree trunks on the forest of his face.
I’d run through the forest, evading monsters, fighting evil, saving the fair maiden from the clutches of the evil king. The forest would become my home, my grandfather’s nose a cave where the monsters lived. A cave I would stand at the entrance to, gathering my courage before running in to slay the evil that lies within.
I would exit the cave victorious, climb to the top of the nose and proclaim to all the mythical residents of my grandfather’s face that the world is once again safe. Cheers would rise up in tandem with my grandfather’s breath. Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray.
Birds would land on the window sill of the porch and my attention would turn to their small feathered faces. “What’s it like to fly?” I’d ask the bird. “What’s it like to run?” the bird would reply.
My grandfather stirred in his chair, raising a finger to his nose to resolve a deep seeded itch. A snort and a brief turn in the chair and he was back to sleep. The bird on the window ledge, startled by the sudden movement, flapped his wings and was soon perched safely at the top of the large cedar tree that grew next to the house.
The mid afternoon sun, shone through the smoked stained windows illuminating the small dust particles floating through air. Dust particles that acted like meteors hurling through space towards an unknown destination. I reached out trying to catch a meteor in my hand, the movement sending the meteors on a collision course with the window.
With each passing minute the sun crawled ever closer to my grandfather’s face. When it reached his eyes, he gently woke from his mid afternoon nap. A smile crossed his face when his eyes catch mine.
“Hey kiddo, what do you say we go fishing?” The sun casting an angelic glow upon my grandfather’s whiskered face.