Grandma’s Shadow Box by James Van Pelt

“Don’t touch, dear,” said Grandma when I was eight, reaching up the wall toward the display with the Dvarki gun, an ugly, melted, soot covered pistol with bulges and grooves and a grip for too many fingers. “It’s no toy.”

Yearly, on April 11, reporters interviewed her. The kids stayed in our rooms.

In 4th grade, at recess, a boy pushed me to the ground. “Dad says your grandma’s a butcher. Killed a city.”

“To save us all,” I cried.

Burns etched my Grandma’s neck and arms, but she had soft, kind hands, and she smelled of cookies and cinnamon. 

James Van Pelt is a full-time writer in western Colorado. He’s appeared in numerous magazine, been a finalist for a Nebula Award and been reprinted in several year’s best collections.  His latest collection, The Best of James Van Pelt came out in November, 2020, and is available at  James blogs at, and he can be found on Facebook.

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