“It’s been ten years.”
A gentle smile,
clear, bright eyes.
In one graceful motion, she bounded up the stairs.
“Come sit with me.”
We were at eye level;
ten years ago, even so brittle and pale, I was still looking up.
A firm grip on my hand,
she led me into the living room,
passed the old piano,
around the beige, floral-patterned couch that belonged to her in life,
behind the square, solid oak coffee table, and on to the floor.
We sat cross-legged, engulfed in the warmth of the rays of light shining through the window behind the beside the staircase.
“You’ve grown so much.”
She was the first to speak; her smile—a smile I had never seen on her—remained.
“I’ve missed you; I’m sorry I haven’t come sooner.”
The smile faltered out of guilt for just a moment.
I eventually managed a broken, muttered, “it’s okay.”
I slowly slipped out of the stupor;
however, I didn’t know what to say.
“You’ve played softball for so long.”
The smile piqued again.
“You look so healthy.”
She placed a hand on either side of my face.
They were as cold as the day we laid her to rest.
“Tell me, have you decided?”
I wasn’t sure how, but I knew what she was asking.
I finally managed a smile in return.
“I made this…”
“…poster of the human skeletal system at only ten, with every single bone. I saw it.”
She beamed, proud of me.
I couldn’t stop the smile pulling more widely across my expression, too.
“You were always a smart little one, Jessie.”
She pulled me into a frigid embrace,
and I obliged
She was… herself.
A sharp inhale.
I open my eyes, immediately looking to the face of the digital clock.
Cold sweat beads on the back of my neck and forehead—03:30.
I futilely resist the tears welling in my eyes,
but I still smile.
“…It was nice to see you again, Grandma Jackie.”
The chill drifts out of my room.
Saline droplets race down my cheeks faster than I can force them away.
“Come back again, okay…?”
The silence of the early morning and the warmth of the living seeping back into the room are my only answers