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Making Lemonade

James Osborne | Cait Maloney

“What’re ya doing, Grandpa?” four-year-old Denise asked, skipping happily into her grandparents’ kitchen.

“Making my special lemonade for our company,” Alan replied, turning from the counter to greet his tiny granddaughter. “They’ll be here soon. Wanna help, sweetheart?”

“Yes!” Denise said. She pulled a kitchen chair over to the counter and scrambled up, ready for another fun experience during her sleepover.

It was a warm summer afternoon. Denise’s parents and her older sister, Erika, were invited for Sunday evening dinner outside on the deck. They would pick up Denise after her weekend. Grandpa Alan was making his famous lemonade as a surprise before-dinner treat.

“See,” said Alan, “I’ve cut all these lemons in half. Now, I’ll squeeze each of them in this fruit squeezer. When that’s done, can you put them in the recycling bucket for me? It will be a really big help!”

“Sure!” Denise said, happy to help her grandpa. It took a while to squeeze out the juice of the three-dozen lemons. Alan poured the juice into a big mixing bowl Denise’s grandmother normally used to make chili. Then he added the rest of his special ingredients to make ‘real’ lemonade. He would tell no one the ‘rare and secret’ ingredients that produced the mysterious flavor, not even Grandma Patricia. The recipe? You learned it here first: add to the lemon juice, water, the juice of a few squeezed limes, some sliced lemons and sliced oranges for decoration, and a few ounces of pineapple juice for sweetener.

Denise’s help this day marked the very first time Alan had ever let anyone into the kitchen while making his popular lemonade.

He began stirring the mixture with a big wooden spoon. Just then the phone rang. Alan put down the spoon and left the kitchen to answer the phone in the hallway.

Later, Alan insisted he had been gone no more than 30 seconds.

In his absence, Denise decided to help her grandpa. She grabbed the wooden spoon. With two hands she began to stir Alan’s famous brew. A big smile lit up her face. Now, she was really helping her grandpa!

When Alan returned to the kitchen, he saw Denise leaning over the big stainless steel bowl, one hand planted firmly on the counter, the other thrust almost up to her elbow in the lemonade, her arm swirling around.

“What in the world are you doing?” Alan exclaimed. “You’re not supposed to stir the lemonade like that!”

“I’m not stirring it, Grandpa!” Denise replied near tears. “The spoon won’t work! I can’t get it with that!”

“Can’t get what?” Alan asked, his eyebrows knitting together.

“My bubblegum!” she sobbed.

About James Osborne

James Osborne is the award-winning author of more than 60 short stories and two suspense/thriller novels. His fiction, creative non-fiction and humorous short stories have won regional and international awards, and have been published in a number of popular anthologies.

Visit the author's page >

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