~Parts of this are "somewhat invented" but the chocolates and Grandpa are as true today as they were all those years ago.~
"Aah." Grandpa sank into the couch.
"Get the box of candy for Grandpa, will you?" Mom said.
I drug my feet into the kitchen. I knew what was in the candy box. Two chocolates. Both had been squished. A white nougat, no one liked those, and a mystery brown one that had been squished so long ago that it was petrified. I wasn't the only guilty one but I was the only one that was home.
"Here, Mom," I handed the box to her as nonchalantly as possible. Grandpa patted the spot next to him.
Mom shook the box. Empty wrappers, rustling and two thunks. I had that sound memorized. Every almost-empty candy box in the history of my life sounded just like that.
"Hum," she said as she peered inside, poking the petrified candy, "Maybe we need a new box." She looked at me and raised one eyebrow. I sank into the cushions behind Grandpa.
I listened. There it was, the faint screech of the fruit room door. I had searched the fruit room dozens of times. There wasn't any candy in there, but here she came, working the ribbon off a fresh box of chocolates.
"Here we go," Mom wadded the cellophane into a ball. She opened the box and handed it to Grandpa.
He brought the open box to his nose and inhaled. "Mmm, there's nothing like the smell of chocolate, is there, Sis?"
"I dunno, I guess so." I had never stopped to smell a box of candy, There wasn't time to smell when you were in the candy cupboard. You had to be quick. Open the box, grab one that might be promising, shut the box and then try to remember the exact way it was sitting. Had the box been a little bit crooked? Closer to the edge or further back? There wasn't time to fuss, you had to get off the bar and out of the kitchen quick.
"Well, let's see," Grandpa never rushed. "The one with the double swirl is a raspberry creme. This one with a V is a vanilla creme."
"You can tell what's inside?"
"Sure, that's how you know what to choose. See this here? This oblong one with the two squiggly lines? That's a caramel."
Caramels were my favorites but the awful jellied ones were oblong too . Lots of oblong jellies, with a corner bit off, had been thrown in the bushes next to the front porch. Mom found a swarm of ants there one day and couldn't figure out what had attracted them. Ants obviously didn't care if they got inferior candy.
"What do the jellies look like, Grandpa?"
"Like those do you? Here you go. They have an X on top, from corner to corner."
He closed the box and bit into a chocolate. "Mmm, chocolate truffle. One of my favorites." He handed the box back to Mom and she took it into the kitchen. The chocolate was starting to melt. I changed hands and licked it off my fingers.
"Well, go on," Grandpa said, ruffling my hair. "I picked a good one for you."
I smiled as best I could and bit a corner off.
"Well?" he asked. "How is it?"
"Grandpa," I whispered. "I hate jellies. It's the caramels I like. That's why I asked what the jellies looked like, so I wouldn't ever pick one."
"Well, now," he whispered back. "We're in a predicament, aren't we?" He cleared his throat. "I think I'll just have another chocolate," he called to Mom. "I've got a powerful sweet tooth today."
"What about your diabetes?"
"I'll eat carrots and broccoli for dinner, I promise."
"I will, I surely will."
Mom opened the box and Grandpa picked up an oblong with two squiggly lines. When she went into the kitchen he traded chocolates with me. He wrapped the jelly in his clean white handkerchief.
I bit into the caramel. "Aren't you going to eat that one?"
"Ah, Sis," he said, ruffling my hair. "I hate jellies."
"What are you two laughing at," Mom called from the kitchen.
"Nothing," we chorused together. I leaned into Grandpa's side, he put his arm around me and pulled me close. I could hear the clock ticking and an early cricket starting to chirp somewhere outside. I licked my fingers and looked up at him and smiled. He smiled back. We sat there together for a long time until Mom called me to set the table for dinner.