Grandpa and Delilah had a standing date after dinner, in the back yard. Sometimes Delilah chased fireflies. Sometimes she showed him new things she learned in kindergarten.
“Grandpa, watch this!”
“What is it Delilah?”
She would tumble clumsily on the grass, but Grandpa always clapped. “Perfect ten!” he’d cry, like the Olympics announcer on TV.
Most of the time they sat side by side on the patio holding hands, while Grandpa smoked cigarettes. From the corner of her eye, Delilah often spied Grandma leaning against the doorway with a dish towel over her shoulder, smiling at them.
Some nights, Grandpa couldn’t make their date because he would be called to the hospital to fix people. Although Delilah didn’t like this, she understood because that was Grandpa’s job. Mommy and Daddy fixed people, too, but they were hardly ever around because they were residents. That meant they still lived in the same house as Grandma and Grandpa, but it also meant that they were just starting out at their jobs. Grandpa was near retirement. That meant that he was almost done with his job and that he’d be able to spend more time with Delilah.
Other nights, Grandpa couldn’t make their date because it was poker night. His friends brought cigars, which were like cigarettes but bigger and smellier. They also brought her candy, so she didn’t mind that Grandpa played with the grown-ups instead of with her.
Sometimes poker night was at someone else’s house and that was worse. She hated when Grandpa left her at home for anything other than his job because kids weren’t allowed there. His job was just for grown-ups.
“Poker night is just for grown-ups, too, Sweetie Pie,” Grandpa explained.
Once, Grandpa was in the shower getting ready for poker night and Delilah snuck into his and Grandma’s bedroom. His pants and shirt lay on the bed, so she took them and hid them under her own bed. Grandpa couldn’t go out without his clothes now, could he?
“Sweetheart!” Grandpa called.
Delilah knew he wasn’t calling for her because he called her “Sweetie Pie,” so she stayed on the sofa where she and Grandma watched Buck Rogers. Grandma got up and at the bottom of the stairs she answered, “What is it, darling?”
“What happened to my clothes?”
“What do you mean?”
“What?” Grandma climbed the stairs with Delilah close behind.
“I set them out, but now….” Grandpa, who wore his fuzzy blue robe that reminded Delilah of Grover, caught her peeking out from behind Grandma’s back.
Grandma looked at her, too. She gazed up at them. Oh no, they might solve the mystery!
“Sweetie Pie, what happened to my clothes?”
Delilah’s face grew warm, and she thought it might be red, too. Grandma called that blushing. She wished that she could make herself even smaller and clung to Grandma’s skirt.
She didn’t want to say I don’t know because that would be lying, which was bad. Grandma and Grandpa said so, and she didn’t want to be bad. She led them to her bedroom, and pulled Grandpa’s clothes from their hiding place.
Grandma and Grandpa laughed and laughed. So Delilah laughed, too. Still, Grandpa got another pair of pants and a shirt from his closet and left for poker night.
The next morning, Grandma made French toast and bacon for breakfast – Delilah’s favorites. They were Grandpa’s favorites, too. When he joined them at the table, he had a funny look on his face.
“What’s the matter, Ronald?” That’s what Grandma called him when she was serious. That meant not funny.
Grandpa made a face, but not at Delilah to make her laugh. He rubbed his chest. “Nothing.”
“Are you having chest pains again?” When Grandpa didn’t answer, Grandma continued, “Ronald, you have got to see a doctor.”
“Samantha, I am a doctor.”
The conversation was serious, Delilah decided.
“But you’re not a cardiologist. Why don’t you give Rich a call? You know he’ll see you.”
Rich was one of Grandpa’s poker friends.
“No, Samantha. I’m fine.”
“Then I’ll call him.”
“No! I’m fine.”
Grandma sighed and served him his breakfast.
Delilah knew Grandpa’s secret that he made her promise not to tell anyone, not even Grandma: he didn’t like going to the doctor. He didn’t like being poked and prodded, and neither did Delilah. She hated when the grown-ups took her to Aunt Jessica’s office. She liked seeing Aunt Jessica at her house, but not at her office. She couldn’t understand why they brought her there every six months or so, when she didn’t need fixing.
Delilah knew she was just like Grandpa. When she grew up, she would be a doctor like him, but she would still hate seeing Aunt Jessica at her office. She knew that Grandpa loved to fix people, but he didn’t want people fixing him. Neither did Delilah.
The next morning Grandma was downstairs cooking breakfast like always. Mommy and Daddy were home, sleeping. Delilah knew because she heard them come home late at night when she was supposed to be asleep but was reading under the blanket. They liked to sleep late, so she went to wake up Grandpa instead. He wouldn’t wake up.
“Grandpa!” She shook him. “Grandpa, wake up! Grandma’s making pancakes and sausage today. They’re our second favorite!”
He still wouldn’t wake up. She left Grandpa and crossed the hallway to Mommy and Daddy’s room.
“Mommy! Daddy!” She shook them. “Grandpa won’t wake up! Can you fix him?” Their eyes opened and they jumped out of bed and ran across the hall. Delilah raced behind them. They took one look at Grandpa and Mommy screamed.
Grandpa died of cardiac arrest. That meant that his heart stopped. But Delilah knew the real reason. He died because he didn’t like going to the doctor. Now she was afraid that she would die, too.
Prompt: Use "Everyone knew" as the first sentence and make a reference to the photo.