“Are you sure you still wanna go out? I mean, I would totally understand.”
“No. I am fine.”
“Are you sure? It’s not that I don’t want to see you its just…”
“Ok, meet me at the docks in an hour?”
“I’ll be there.”
After she hung up, I just stayed on the line. My strength was pretty much spent, but there was nothing more that I wanted or needed at that particular moment than to see Fern’s lovely face. We found out about Gramma’s passing just one night earlier and the entire house was pretty upset about it. Man the house was pretty much packed. Me and the girls plus Lily’s little friend were all staying with aunt Blush and uncle Rowan while Mom and Dad were out of town. Course Chestnut was not there the entire time, just the weekends…
Things only got more cramped after Gramma had passed. Aunt Blush offered for grandpa to stay too, since the last thing any of us wanted was for him to be alone.
Finally I gathered enough energy to hang up the receiver and head to the bathroom to freshen up a bit.
I couldn’t have been in there more than three minutes when a little hand was knocking on the door.
“Prelude? Can I talk to you?”
I opened the door and she stepped in.
“You’re goin out?”
“Ya. Fern and I have a date.”
“You’re still gonna tell us that ghost story right?”
I dropped my hands to the sink. Oh berry I had forgotten I promised the kids earlier that when it got dark I would tell them a story. That was hours ago when I still had some semblance of energy.
“Right?” She pressed again.
I knew the girls were hurting just as much as I was and saying no would probably not be the best course of action for everyone’s current fragile states. I looked at the clock located high on the tiled wall…40 minutes to waste. Taking a deep breath and throwing on the best smile I could, I turned to face her. “I made a promise didn’t I? You go back to the room I will be there in a minute.”
I exited the bathroom and rummaged through the hallway closet for a flashlight. The kids were already set out on the floor eagerly waiting for me.
“Make it a scary one.”
“A reaaaaaaly scary one!”
I racked my brain for a few seconds until the perfect one came to mind.
“They say there is a ghost of woman who walks the swamps of Twizzlerbrook looking for her lost child. He walked out of the house one night and never returned. The moment she realized he was gone she went searching. Clutching only an old lantern she walked the banks calling his name. The rain pored down like buckets and the sheer sound of the falling water was almost enough to drown out her cries completely. Her voice full of fear and heartbreak she continued on…with each step she fell further and further into her despair.”
“Before long the old lantern had burned out, but she refused to give up. She kept calling his name into the pitch black darkness. She never saw the giant mud puddle and she stepped right down into it, pulling her under. Her lungs filled with mud, but she continued calling his name till her last dying breath. They never found her body, but they say if you listen carefully on a dark stormy night, you can still hear her calling his name.”
Once I had finished, I flicked off the flash light. No body moved a muscle, they just sat there, mouths gaping wide. I started to worry that maybe the story was just a little too scary for all of them. I set the flashlight down on the desk just as Lily stood up.
“That was…AMAZING!” She yelped.
“Ya?” I asked again feeling slightly relieved.
“That was like the scariest story ever, ever!”
“Do you think its true?”
Once the four started discussing amongst themselves the validity of the story, I used the opportunity to step out.
I closed the door behind them and let out an exhausted sigh. It was going to be a long night.
“Something bothering you son?”
I turned towards my grandpa. His face was tired and it looked as if he hadn’t slept in days, even though I knew he had been napping on the chair off and on all evening.
“Hey grandpa, I’m fine just tired. Those girls are a bit on the demanding side.”
“Ah yes. They sure do like you don’t they?”
“Just a bit.” I remarked with smile.
“Sit down son, lets talk.”
I sat down on the couch unsure of what I should say. We hadn’t really discussed grandma since her passing and I was not all that sure if he was ready to. Instead I just sat there drumming my fingers on my knees hoping he would ask me something so I knew exactly where to take the conversation. Luckily I didn’t have to wait to long.
“Big date tonight huh?”
“Yup in about twenty minutes.”
“The girl you met at the pool?”
“Did I ever tell you how I met your grandmother?”
“It was at the Cafe Au Lait laundromat. She had been having a really bad day and was cussing out the one of the washers. HAH! Oh my she was so cute in all her angry fit.” He reminisced with a laugh. Then his eyes glazed over and huge smile began to grow across his face. “She was good woman.”
“Ya. We are going to miss her very much.”
“I made a big mistake with her.”
“What was that grandpa.”
“Laziness. I got lazy. Stopped saying the important things like “I love you. I should have told her every day when I got up and every night when I went to sleep, but I didn’t. I foolishly took it for granted that she knew. Wish I could tell her now.”
“I’m sure she knew grandpa.”
“Doesn’t matter. Should have said it more. This Fern…if you love her or ever get to where you do, don’t be afraid to tell her. Even if she doesn’t feel it back. Love is something that should never be kept secret. HAH! Listen to your old granps going on about love.”
“Its OK. I like talking you.”
“You’re a good boy you know that. You take care of those girls as if they were your own. You have a good heart, just like your grandma. I love you son.”
“Love you too Grandpa.”
“Now you run a long and have fun on your date!”
I gave him a hug and stepped out the door, heading towards the docks.
I came up over the hill and saw her sweet face standing there waiting for me. The moment I saw her, I quickened my pace to meet her. The grass crunched underneath my feet till I was standing just foot from her gorgeous green eyes.
“Hey you made it.”
“Of course. You have no idea how happy I am to see you.”
“I think I might have a bit of an idea. How are you doing?”
“Ok? You don’t sound OK.”
*sigh* “It’s my grandpa. He is not doing very well.”
“Oh I see.”
“If you wanna talk about it, I am all ears.”
Her kind gesture was enough to provoke a smile out of me. She grabbed hold of my hand and led me down the steps and out onto the sandy bank. We both took a seat she scooted in close laying her head on my shoulder. “Tell ol Fern all about it.”
Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight and pretty much made it hard for me to concentrate on anything but her lips that danced ever so slightly out of my reach.
“Well he is just taking her death really hard. We all are, but he’s not doing well at all.”
“Well that was his wife. They probably spent many years together, it will probably take him a long time to get over her, and even then it probably won’t ever fully heal.”
“Ya. He just seems so tired. Different. He just stares off into the distance. Its hard to see him like that.”
“Did you call your mom and dad yet?”
“Grandpa said not to. He said the funeral wasn’t until after they got back, so there was no reason to bother them. I thought we should, but he insisted it was OK for us to wait. Mom…I don’t know how mom is gonna take it.”
“Losing a parent is never easy, it doesn’t matter how old you are. But at least she has the best son in the world to be there by her side.”
Her words always filled me with a feeling of joy that I could not quite contain. Grandpa never actually asked me if I loved her, but I knew I did. She was just about the sweetest person I knew. So kind and full of wisdom, sometimes it was easy to forget she was only 16. She had a way about her that made her seem much older than she actually was.
“You know I have been thinking.”
“I was kinda hoping that this best son in the world would love to have the best girl in the world by his side.”
“As a girlfriend perhaps.”
“That is if you want me?”
“That’s the silliest question I have ever heard… yes.”
I leaned in and gently pressed my lips against hers. How I had been waiting for this moment. Sure it only took me 4 dates to get up the nerve, but as we sat there sharing our first kiss, I was kinda glad we waited. Something about the night was pure magic. I wanted to stay with her on those banks forever. All my worries had been wiped clean from the slate. Sadly curfew was only a few hours away and I had promised Aunt Blush to be on time.
We spent every possible moment right up until the last second that it would have been humanly possible for me to arrive home on time.
“Will I see you tomorrow?”
“I hope so.”
“Its pizza night, you should come over. Mom and Dad are dying to meet you.”
“Sounds like a date.”
“See you tomorrow then.”
I got home just two minutes after 11. Totally with in my 10 minute window. I opened the front door and stepped inside. Still flying high on the evenings excitement I set the keys down on the counter. The TV droned on in its hushed tone and grandpa was napping again in his chair.
I walked across hallways when something just didn’t feel right. I stepped closer to grandpa and my heart started to race. My eyes darted from his face to his chest. There was no movement. Not even slight rise and fall could be seen. I swallowed hard. “Grandpa?” I whispered placing my hand on his arm.
There was no movement, no reaction, nothing. I stepped back throwing my hand across my face. It couldn’t be. I was just talking to him. He seemed fine. Sure he was tired but he was fine. I didn’t know what to do, I just stood there. Tears trying to make their way into my eyes.
Sapphire’s voice threw me off guard and I spun around to meet her gaze.
“Is grandpa OK?”
My felt my stomach lurch. I wanted to throw up. I could feel my grip on the situation slowly slipping out of my control.
Through gritted teeth I tried to send her out of the room.
“Go back to the room Sapph.”
“Is he OK? Is he d-”
“GO BACK TO THE ROOM NOW!”
Her eyes grew even larger but she did just as she was told and went back into Beaux’s room.
Again my mind went blank. What was I supposed to do. Did I call for an ambulance first or did I wake up Aunt Blush and Uncle Rowan? I steadied my hands and pulled my phone from my pocket. Once I had hung up the phone I walked over to their bedroom door and reluctantly knocked. “Uncle Rowan I need you.”
The ambulance arrived and everyone rushed outside to watch as they put grandpa into the back. He was already gone, but they didn’t have the heart to leave him with all of us and wait for the coroner. Everyone was crying, myself included. Heartbroken sobs rang out into the night air. The last bit of control I had been clinging to evaporated the moment the doors on the ambulance were shut and they were driving away.
I just couldn’t stop, the tears continued to roll down my face. Some how I felt a deep connection to him, maybe because I was the last one to talk to him when he was alive, or maybe because as a 16 year old boy I witnessed my first death. For what ever the reason, I broke down, I tried several times to calm myself but it was to no avail, and the sobs only increased when I realized there was no possible way to put it off any longer. We had to call mom and dad. I wiped back the tears long enough for me step back into the house and pulled the sheet of paper from the top drawer. Wiping my eyes again I carefully dialed the number.
“Is Granite there? I need my Dad!”
This was actually supposed to be part of the last chapter, but I didn’t want to bring down such a beautiful one with all this sadness. So I made it its own. So now we say goodbye to Livi and Cello and welcome Lily. Next chapter she will be taking over <333