The Love Story of Henry Van Pennyshaw

The sky was bright and clear; the smell of winter was on the air.

“Henry Van Pennyshaw?”

She touched him gently.  Then she grew very still.  She sat there a long time, not speaking.  Then, slowly, she rose and went into the house.

*     *     *

 

“Where would you like to bury them?” Daddy asked.

Daddy and Ivy were bundled in winter coats; Daddy held his long shovel beside him like a staff.

“How about the back yard?” Daddy suggested.  “The earth should still be good and loose there from when we buried his… from a few weeks ago.”

Ivy considered it.  Then she nodded.

They wrapped the jack-o-lanterns in old newspapers and Ivy carried them, each in its own turn, to the back yard.  Daddy dug quickly.  When the shovel bit into a bundle of tattered dirt-stained newspaper at the bottom of the shallow hole, he stopped.

They lowered Hazel Grim then Henry Van Pennyshaw into the hole.  Then Daddy covered them with earth.

*     *     *

 

Hot July laced the air with humidity and the smells of summer–cut grass and charcoal smoke.

“Come on!  Come on!”

Ivy pulled Jamie around the side of the house, her hand clamped on his wrist.

“I don’t see what’s so–”

“Come on!”

He tramped lazily after her, across the yard, into the garden.  She stepped over the brick border onto the stepping stones and beckoned him to follow.

“I’m not going in there,” Jamie said, eyeing the garden warily.

“Would you come on already?”

“No way.  It’s buggy.  There might be bees.”

She grabbed his wrist again and pulled him after her to a bare patch of earth near the back fence.

A cement birdbath stood in the middle of the patch and, beneath it, a green vine as long as an arm snaked across the ground.

Ivy pointed at it.

“Look,” she whispered.

“What?” Jamie asked.

“You see that plant?”

“Course I see it.”

“That’s a pumpkin vine.”  Ivy licked her lips.  “This is where we buried Henry Van Pennyshaw and Hazel Grim.  Don’t you see, Jamie?  They’ve started a family.”

“Pfff.”

“They have!”

Ivy’s voice rang through the garden; birds that had been pecking in the grass in the back yard took flight.

“Henry Van Pennyshaw and Hazel Grim have started a family,” Ivy said again, “and this is their baby.”

“Wait a second,” Jamie said, “is this the same spot where you said you buried his–”

“I’m going to stake out this patch,” Ivy said.  “I’ll build a nice little fence around it.  I’ll make a sign that says something cute.  Maybe it’ll say nursery, and there will be a picture of a little pumpkin in a crib.”

She looked solemnly at Jamie, then back at the pumpkin vine.

“It’ll have her eyes,” Ivy said.  “And his smile.”  She frowned suddenly.  “But what do you think its name should be?”

Side by side they knelt before Henry Van Pennyshaw and Hazel Grim’s progeny and discussed its christening.

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