Ethan walks up to him taking slow but determined steps like the little turtle that he once kept in a tray in his room.
The old man waits patiently. This will more than likely be the very last time, so Ethan wants this meeting to last as long as he can.The old man’s face is almost hidden behind a long gray beard. Well, it’s actually closer to being more white than gray. Ethan doesn’t know it but the wide smile on his face looks
frozen. That’s because inside his stomach is doing tiny somersaults over and over. This is serious and he knows it. He stands up as straight as he can and sticks out his right hand. He wants to make sure he gets a firm shake as he touches the old man’s craggy hand. That is how he has been taught years ago by this same old man. Ethan has his head up and his eyes look directly into the old man’s eyes. He makes sure his grip stays firm as their hands touch in front of them.
“Your handshake shows what you are made of,” the old man had said so many times.
1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
2. Good eye contact.
3. And, your grip firm (not like a dead fish).
Doing this shows respect and in that way you will receive it. It takes a lot for a kid to stand up straight and look an adult right in their eyes. But, Ethan does it every time, now.
That’s why the old man has a special place in Ethan’s heart. Ethan can’t remember exactly when the old man came to live with them. It seems like he has always been around. Each day there was something new that the old man thought them. Now however, things are changing.
The old man falls back and sits on the bench that he often sits on when they talk. He asks Ethan to join him. There, he whispers a few words to Ethan. Before the words touch his ear, Ethan notices the old man’s breath again. As always, it reminds him of something…a familiar fruit smell. Only, Ethan can’t quite think of what fruit it is exactly. The fruit had been with him since he knew the old man. It causes Ethan’s mind to wonder a little and he has to force himself to listen.
The old man is still talking to Ethan as he reaches into his upper pocket. The old worn out pair of jean overalls (that the old man has on) has that same familiar fruit smell. The old man pulls a small packet out. Without revealing the content the old man pours the content into his left hand.
“I have something for you. This gift is vital for a long life. When I give them to you, you must promise to do exactly as I say.”
Without thinking Ethan cups his hand and holds them out to accept the gift. He opens his eyes wider with anticipation of what the old man has for him, very eager to get whatever it is. The old man’s hand is slow and is trembling but it is still strong. However, it is not as tightly sealed as he thinks. Ethan can peek inside a little. But, he can’t quite see what it is yet.
Finally, he is able to see something. It looks like…small seeds. It surprises him. He sees…seeds? Ethan is puzzled but he would never ever want to be rude to the old man by looking disappointed. His mind starts to wonder again.
Should I ask him?