Her eyes were riveted on the rim of the glass she was carefully holding, as she practically tiptoed across the living room floor to bring her grandmother the very full glass of the special pink lemonade punch her mother had made and asked her to deliver. She felt like she was practically hovering over the ground, her concentration was so deep. “Don’t spill the punch, don’t spill the punch” she chanted as she crept across the snow-white carpet of the living room floor.
One time, last year, at her sister’s birthday party, she had spilled the bright red kool-aid on the carpet as she hurried to quickly across the room in time for the birthday song, and she had gotten in so much trouble. Her mother had had to call the carpet cleaner, and when her father got home she got in trouble again, she could still feel his disappointment in her. That was seventy-five dollars they didn’t have to waste. She was humiliated and embarrassed. She would be more careful next time, she had promised.
So now, as she made her careful way across the wide expanse of the living room floor, the punch gently swashing from side to side, just edging up to one side of the lip of the glass, then gently to the other, she hoped fervently she would not spill this drink. But boy, was it full, she thought.
The worst part for her, she was realizing, was that the more she concentrated the more the punch seemed to slosh closer to the brim. She wondered if she was noticing that it appeared closer to the brim because she was concentrating so hard and so it was magnified, or was she noticing it more because it really was sloshing closer to the brim? Both, she knew. She continued to creep her way across the what seemed ever-widening distance between the kitchen and the living room, concentrating with all her might, to where everyone sat laughing and talking.
“Don’t spill the punch, don’t spill the punch,” she repeated silently to herself.
The back and forth sloshing of the punch in the glass became greater and greater. Her hand was practically shivering from the muscular contraction that she held the glass with to hold it still. The more it moved, the tighter she held it. The tighter she held it, the more her hand shook from the exertion. It really was a physical conundrum.
This is not going well, she thought to herself. Her fear of spilling, the embarrassment, the punishment, flooded her mind, but also equally, the goal of bringing her beloved grandmother the punch created a chaotic condition in her mind that almost had her in tears, which of course, just made the tension greater.
It was just then that her grandmother’s gaze caught her eyes – and held her.
She used her grandmother’s eyes to right herself. She relaxed her hand. Her grandmother saw her concentration and she gently smiled. She relaxed some more. Okay, okay concentrate, concentrate, she told herself. I can do this. She held the glass steady, and looking directly at her grandmother’s eyes, she let her grandmother’s gaze carry her the rest of the way across the white-carpeted floor like a tractor beam. She never even looked at the glass. She just concentrated on her grandmother’s soft, knowing smile and aimed for it. And before she knew it, she was there. Her grandmother took the glass from her hands.
“Why thank you, darling girl. My, that’s a full glass. And you didn’t spill a drop!” She laughed and took a deep swig of red punch, then put the glass down, and swept me into her lap, where she held me good and deep into her big bazooms (that’s what she called them,) laughing and hugging me hard, and put me back together again.
DIANA LANG © 2016