A bedtime story

As a little boy, my grandmother would read to me as I lay limply snuggled beneath three layers of quilts stories from a quaint old book—or she tried, in any case. Often she misplaced her thoughts, & we skipped to some place else; not seldom her bright, beady eyes met a word coined in some time other than her own, & the culpable sentence lost its subject, or its verb. Sometimes entire phrases disappeared, reemerged somewhere else, imposed upon an alien passage: subordinate clauses roused in mutiny; adverbial phrases caught on stranger tides; so jumbled the words seemed to her then. Nor could I blame her—I knew not by what sorcery those inky blots kept in place when she heaved shut the twin covers at night. What kept them all from disarranging on the page? By the age of seven it became clear to me that my grandmother was a charlatan & a fraud; my parents always suspected as much, although initially I gave to her the benefit of a doubt. But by the age of twelve with puberty in bloom, my grandmother was nearing her manhood, & we knew we had greater troubles to worry about than poor sentence construction.

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