The Hunt














            The Hunt


            “Come on, Squirt. We’re going to Nana’s. She needs help.”

            Alessandra cringed. “Don’t call me that.”

            “Fine. Get in the car, Alex. We leave in a minute.”

            Better than Squirt, I guess.

            She preferred Alessandra. Bringing that up to her older sister would earn her a fresh round of teasing. It wasn’t worth it.

            “She wants me to help with the hunt?”

            “Dream on, Squir … Alex. She called and asked me to come help. Mom and Dad would kill me if I left you here alone.”

            “I’m twelve, Olivia. It is perfectly legal to leave a twelve-year-old alone. I looked it up. Plus, my teacher says I’m a very mature twelve.”

            An audible puff of air propelled a thin spray of spit through her sister’s lips.

            “Oh wait, you’re being serious,” she said. “Well, you can test your legal theories on Mom and Dad when I’m not going to be the one who gets in trouble for leaving a child unattended. Now, grab a jacket. I’ll be in the car. Don’t forget to lock the door on your way out.”

            “Should I grab a dictionary in case she asks me something?”

            “You don’t think she has one? Besides, I just look stuff up on my phone. Just bring something to do so you won’t get bored and complain.”

            Alessandra sighed. She pushed her glasses back up to their proper spot on the bridge of her nose. The phone comment was another sisterly poke. Their parents did not think she was old enough for a cell phone. A sore subject. She was not a child. Sure, she was the last of three girls … a distant third; a surprise. Sometimes it felt like she had three mothers. Maybe that’s why they couldn’t see how mature she was.

            Anyway, she wasn’t upset about not being left home alone. She loved going to Nana’s house. There was always something homemade and sweet waiting, and Nana wasn’t one of those “take off your shoes and don’t sit on the good couch” grandmas. That was Grandma Jane, her father’s mom. At Nana’s house, souvenirs from around the world were more or less organized by country in multiple curio cabinets. Bookcases filled to the brim and beyond lined most of the walls. Those books that lacked a proper slot were stacked about on tables and shelves. Nana wasn’t a hoarder like in those reality shows, though. Everything had its place and was clean, just not in a supermarket magazine way.

            A horn blared from the garage. Alessandra grabbed a backpack and threw some things into it, including a small Webster’s Dictionary.


            The sisters didn’t knock. That would be a distraction. Nana was in her study, the door wide open. She looked up from her computer and waved them over. After a hug to each granddaughter, she got down to business.

            “Alessandra, Sweetie, there are fresh chocolate chip cookies on the table. Help yourself. Olivia, this is driving me crazy. I can’t find what feels right for ‘housing something’ … ‘fitting something’.”

            The hunt was on.

            Alessandra set down her bag. She wandered into the kitchen and popped a warm soft cookie into her mouth. She grabbed a plate from the cabinet above the table and stacked some on for Nana and her sister. Words floated in from the study.

            “Fitting … like appropriate?”

            “No, that’s not it. Fitting as in it fits there … like there’s space.”

            They were still hunting for the word when Alessandra walked in with the cookies.

            “Read me the sentence,” Olivia said.

            “The home was spacious enough to … fit, but it’s not fit … at least four families”

             “Accommodate?” asked Alessandra. It popped out of her mouth just above a whisper.

            “What, Sweetie?”

            Alessandra cleared her throat. “Is it accommodate?”

            “Yes! Oh, thank you. It was making me absolutely crazy.”

            Olivia nodded at her sister with approval. Alessandra beamed.

            The spell was broken by the sounds of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: Nana’s ringtone. After a quick chat on her cell, Nana turned to Olivia.

            “Your mother’s locked out of her office. She needs you to fetch the key.”

            “Shoot. I’m sorry, Nana. I’ll be back as quick as I can.”

            Nana motioned Alessandra to her. “No worries. Looks like we have a brave new hunter in the pack. Go help your mom.”


            From her new post in the study, Alessandra waited to help. She watched Nana furrow her brow. Her palm was pressed against her forehead, its fingers burrowed into her thick gray hair. She searched for words. Pursued them. Hunted them. Sorrow wrapped itself around the girl’s heart like a blanket. Nana looked up. Alessandra stood and ran to the kitchen.

            “What’s wrong, Alessandra?” Nana followed.

            “It’s not fair.” The girl stared at the checkered tile floor. “It’s not fair that you can’t remember your words. It’s not fair that I have some of them now. I don’t even know what to do with them.”

            “Yet.” Nana smiled. “You don’t know what to do with them, yet.”

            Alessandra looked up. All signs of frustration melted from her grandmother’s face.

            “It’s alright. I have you, your sisters, and your mother. All those years writing and reading to you. I was planting an entire garden of words … in each of you. I never owned them.”

            “They were yours. They should be yours. Everything you write is wonderful.”

            Her grandmother laughed. “If only!”

            The right side of Alessandra’s mouth curled up in a smile.

            “Yes, it is frustrating, infuriating at times. I almost know the words I want. I feel them slip just beyond my reach. They taunt me. But, my garden is flourishing and I have you to hunt them and to harvest them for me … with me.”

            Alessandra ran over to hug her grandmother. It was quick, not one of those long movie hugs. They had work to do. They were going hunting.



Elizabeth Devecchi


Elizabeth Devecchi holds an undergraduate degree in French from Wittenberg University, pursued in part at the Université Paul-Valéry in Montpelier, France, a Law Degree from the Università di Torino, Italy, and an L.LM in International Law, from The University of Iowa College of Law. For the past five years, she has filled her blog, with humorous anecdotes and observations garnering 7500 subscribers. She was recently published in Passager Journal’s Pandemic Diaries. Elizabeth currently now resides in Texas with her family.

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