Davis L. Bigelow
A lone girl in a sea of boys, Juniata was a quick study. If she couldn’t keep up with her older cousins, she knew how to even the playing field. “Jam-pa!” Her blonde hair was flying as she ran up to Stan. “Jam-pa, hep me cwime up into da twee house wiss da boys!” Her breathless request tumbled out as Stan scooped her into his strong arms.
“Hello little one.” He boomed. “You’re all out of breath” The little girl looked small against Stan’s broad shoulders. An onlooker might have thought they were watching a giant and a midget putting on a circus performance. Juniata placed a tiny hand against each side of her grandfather’s broad face, attempting to get his full attention.
“Jam-pa!” She said firmly. “Gerwald won’t wet me up into da twee house and Gwant and Tyner and Tyson won’t hep me ee-der.” Gerald, Grant, Tyner and Tyson were Juniata’s cousins. The boys ranged in age from six down to four years-of-age. Whenever the family assembled, a favourite pastime of the four rambunctious boys seemed to be the tormenting of Juniata.
Stan grinned at her broken English. He knew all too well that the stage she was in would pass quickly – just like it had for his own children. It amazed him how fast growing up happened. “Ok.” He said, “I’ll help you.” He dropped Juniata to the grass and took her fragile hand in his. “If we are quiet,” he said with an air of conspiracy, “We might be able to scare the wits out of those boys!”
Across the lawn they stalked, a giant and a midget. If the two figures had been playing out a naval battle on the high seas, they would have been a battle ship accompanied by a dinghy. Juniata giggled in anticipation. Stan smiled at her bubbling enthusiasm.
They approached the tree house and Stan lifted the girl into the air. He held her up to the wooden ladder. The boys had stopped standing guard, and the infiltration was a success.
“Juni” Six-year-old Gerald lamented. “What are you doing up here?” Murmurs of descent rippled from the other three boys as well.
“We’re here to scare you.” Stated Juniata, her hands on her hips. Suddenly, Stan poked his head into sight growling ferociously as he did. Five startled grandchildren jumped and cried out.
“Grandpa!” four-year-old Tyson scolded, “You scared me!”
Stan smiled warmly as he climbed into the solidly built tree house. He was still young enough to do so, so why not? “Juniata told me that you boys forgot that she was your cousin.” Stan said. “She asked me to help her climb up here and I thought it would be fun to scare you all.”
Gerald hung back, but Tyson’s twin brother, Tyner stepped forward. Tyner was the daredevil of the group. He was beaming. “Scare us again Grandpa!” he encouraged.
Stan obliged and let out a ferocious growl. Squeals of delight rippled through the group. This time, even Gerald joined in the laughter.