The Grudge

by Vicki Leavitt Driggs

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    The grotesque, evil monster made out of clay was a sculpture of my own inner rage.

    I was so angry when I left school, I could hardly see straight! I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough. I stormed down the street toward Aunt Lydia’s house simply raging inside with every step.

    Aunt Lydia saw me coming and was holding the door open for me as I fumed past her into the house. I flopped down in her big easy chair with a thud, dropping books everywhere.

    Aunt Lydia is a comfortable, elderly lady with gray, wispy hair pulled straight back and pinned into a little, twisted bun. She has more wrinkles than I’ve ever seen on any other real person.

    Discovering that I liked her was quite a surprise to me because I didn’t know you could be good friends and share so many ideas and feelings with a person that old.

    I’ve often wondered what makes her so fascinating. It might have something to do with her china-blue eyes that you just can’t stop looking at, or maybe it’s her fun, easy laugh that makes you trust her.

    Maybe I like her because she always lets me express whatever feelings I have and doesn’t tell me not to feel that way.

    The story just poured out of me, while she pulled her chair up close to mine and listened. I was draped across the big chair with my legs dangling over one arm as I told her how much I hated Doreen!

    Doreen had told Scott all sorts of lies about me and was trying to get him to like her instead of me. He was actually going to take her out! (Katy had told me all about it.)

    How I hated Doreen! I’d never forgive her—ever! My gravestone will say, “Here lies the girl that hates Doreen!” She had turned on me for the last time, and I’d see to it that she never betrayed me again. I’d get even with her if it was the last thing I ever did. A plan was already starting to form in my mind on how to fix her so she’d never forget it. I wouldn’t rest until I saw to it that she got hers!

    Aunt Lydia said she understood exactly how I felt, and then she went to the other room and returned carrying a box.

    I sat up curiously as she reached into the box and handed me a big hunk of clay. I hadn’t handled a blob like that since kindergarten, and I asked her what I was supposed to do with it. She said she wanted me to make something that would express how I was feeling inside. (I felt like a pile of rotten garbage had exploded all over me!)

    I dug into that mass and demolished it with a vengeance. I squeezed it, pounded it, and pinched it with all the fury inside of me. Boy, it’s a good thing you can’t kill clay because I was in the mood!

    I didn’t know what I would end up with, and I didn’t much care, as long as it was ugly.

    Later, when I had finished, Aunt Lydia told me to look at my thing and tell her what I was holding.

    I described it as a ghastly mutation that had suction cup tentacles for arms and a vacuum-hose mouth that slurped up guys when they weren’t looking. It had a whooping doozy of a beak, big hairy feet, bulbous toes, and ears so long that they were tied up in knots. A couple of the bulgy eyes were a lot lower than the others (so it could cover more territory in looking for victims, I’m sure). The enormous body was covered with shaggy gorilla-hair except for the bald head, which sprouted only three, kinky hairs. Finishing off the masterpiece was a fine juicy wart right on the end of its crooked beak. “There,” I said, “let’s see how Scott likes that!”

    I was really getting into this thing and feeling a little better. (In fact, I was enjoying it immensely!) I heaved a great sigh of relief and then sat silently reveling in my creation.

    I had forgotten all about Aunt Lydia until she broke the silence by saying, “My dear, you described it perfectly, and what you’re holding is a ‘Grudge.’”

    I snapped to attention, listening hard to get her meaning.

    She warned me to beware of grudges for they can be the most vicious and destructive forces in life. She explained that this one, in my hand, was the only safe grudge that I would ever hold. She knew that I’d be tempted many times during my lifetime to pick up other grudges and hold them, but she cautioned me against it.

    “Other grudges will eventually destroy you if you hold them very long,” she continued. “They begin by ruining your peace of mind and then your relationship with both God and man.

    “They have voracious appetites and will consume the whole of your thought and being if you let them stay around,” she said. “They keep you so busy being miserable and thinking up ways to get revenge that you can’t get on with making your own happiness.”

    She didn’t say any more. She just looked at me lovingly as I stared at my “Grudge” and pondered her words.

    It all made so much sense, and I understood exactly what she was trying to tell me. I felt a sudden burst of peace and contentment take over the whole of me. No wonder I love Aunt Lydia and our visits so much.

    She’s so smart. I jumped up and bounced over to hug her good-bye.

    Jogging home, holding my new little clay friend, I knew that I could solve the whole mess, and I laughed right out loud.

    I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my mom about my visit with Aunt Lydia. I couldn’t wait to share the whole story with her and tell her that if she ever wants to “hold a grudge” I have one she can hold—a safe one!

    Then I wanted to call Doreen and see what really happened at school today!

    Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw