Tipsy is seven and she’s standing in the center of the joggling board. Up, down, up, down.
“Tipsy Denning! Get your hind end off that board this second!”
Granna never screams at Tipsy, not out loud and not when she talks to her in the way just the two of them do, without saying words at all. Her yell scares the patooties out of Tipsy and she falls right off the board onto her butt on the front porch.
Just when she’s about to cry her eyeballs out, she feels Granna’s arms around her. “Sugar! Are you okay?”
“Yes, ma’am, but I hurt my butt.”
“Stand up and let me rub it.”
Tipsy stands and Granna rubs and it feels better pretty quick.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” Granna says, “but you can’t jump on the joggling board.”
Tipsy touches the board with her fingers. They’re all stubby because she bites them when she gets nervous, and she gets nervous a lot. Granna told her the board belonged to her mama. She showed Tipsy, with a crow’s feather, how the board wasn’t really black, but green. Tipsy liked to look at the board at different times of day. Sometimes it was easy to see the green. Sometimes it was all black. She wasn’t quite sure which color was hiding under the other. Granna says Tipsy’s got a good eye, to see the light buried in the dark.
This spring past Tipsy sat outside and helped Granna paint the joggling board blackish greenish again. Sneaky fun color or not, it seemed silly to keep painting something the same color, over and over. Tipsy likes lots of different colors, like the paintings in the books Granna brings home from the Martinville library.
“Why can’t I jump on it? You said the board is strong,” Tipsy says.
“It is strong in the middle, even where it sags. But it’s much stronger on the ends. We don’t want to tempt fate and antique wood. Besides, look how you fell off and hurt yourself.”
She kneels in front of Tipsy. It’s getting dark, but her great big gray eyes, just like Tipsy’s, catch the falling sunlight. Like the cloudy sky when it’s just stopped raining and the sun is peeking through.
“There’s often a soft spot in the center,” Granna says, and Tipsy listens because Granna knows so much about everything, even the fuzzy people Tipsy sees around town sometimes, the ones no one else but Granna sees. “Pies and rainbows and joggling boards. We’re all weak and wobbly there, so take care when you’re in the middle.”
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