“Don’t let him have honey,” is the last thing my grandmother instructed me this one time, as she left to run errands.
My parents used to send me to my grandparent’s house; my grandfather was a diabetic, which really bothered him when he couldn’t sweeten his tea.
As soon as she left, my grandfather shuffled into the kitchen, away from his precious games of chess. He boiled water for tea.
“Fetch me zeh honey.”
“I von’t tell her. Our secret.”
The honey was kept away from him on the top shelf of a bookcase in the living room.
His expression, that Battle of Stalingrad stoniness lurking beneath the silk glove of his better nature, told me I would get it for him.
“Zeh vater is getting culd.”
Grandpa watched as I mounted a heavy chair. I sank into the plush cushion, waded out and planted my foot on the nearest shelf of the bookcase. The bookcase wobbled and a fake Faberge egg on the shelf rattled as I climbed.
I grabbed the jar.
Nothing. I tugged; the bookcase swayed, the fake Faberge egg rattled and the jar remained glued, so I yanked—
—and the jar tore loose.
I fell over backwards and the chair flipped me across the room.
I landed on the glass coffee table where grandma sat and played solitaire while grandpa played chess in the den. She played games of chance while he played games of skill and each thought the lesser of the other for it.
The glass table shattered beneath me.
I’d held onto the jar. Watery honey spilled everywhere.
It coated my chest, flowed around my flab to my back and down my pants, pooling in the hollow of my throat, smearing my cheeks and matting my hair.
Shards of broken glass stuck to it, cutting me in a million tiny places. Fragments glued to the back of my neck, in the creases of my folded elbows.
I was a Christmas ornament.
A fleck of glass poked my jaw when I turned to him.
At least he looked shocked.
“Call my mom.”
Grandpa soon returned, holding the cordless phone and a spoon in one hand and his steaming mug of tea in the other. He mixed a spoonful of honey from the jar into his tea and took a sip, smacking his lips.
Then he called my mom.
The diabetes got him, a couple years later; I never told anyone about his spoonful of honey.
Alexander Jones has placed short fiction in Akashic Books, Bastion Magazine, Crack the Spine and DenimSkin, among other publications. His poetry has appeared in Down in the Dirt and Juice Magazine; his nonfiction was recently anthologized by 2Leaf Press. He has a BA in English/ Creative Writing and is pursuing a second BA in History. He works as a metal fabricator and lives in Jersey City.