--A Short Story--
Written May 20th, 2013
Before her is a field. A vast, dry field, interspersed with a few dead trees. There is nothing around for miles, save the path that she walked to get here. She closes her eyes and inhales deeply, remembering… Her eyes open. The air has changed. As has everything else.
In the middle of the field is a house. The windows which used to shine with light and love are now dark. The door which she always remembered being open is now shut. The roof sags in an exhausted effort to hold itself up. Everything appears cold, dismal, and empty.
Tears biting her eyes, she approaches, irresistibly drawn to this house. With an unsteady step she climbs the porch, and her trembling fingers reach for the door. It opens with a groan and slight hesitation.
Everything is coated with years of dust. She brushes the tips of her fingers across the windowsill. Mama wouldn’t have liked that; she had always kept everything just so. A smile teases her lips at the thought of Mama cleaning house.
The floorboards creak as she makes her way through the rooms. She is in the doorway of time; reliving the past, surrounded by a memory. Everywhere she looks, there is something to be remembered. That empty spot on the shelf where they used to keep the big family Bible. The burnt spot on the floor from when John tried to light Daddy’s pipe. The nook in the cupboard where she used to hide her treasures. And that little smudge on the window that drove Mama crazy. Every day, she would have a go at scrubbing it off, but nothing worked. Daddy was going to buy her a new pane of glass for Christmas, but Mama didn’t make it that long. The fever came before December did.
A chill comes over her as she steps into the bedroom. All too vividly, she sees Mama lying in that bed, face pale and damp with sweat. Eyes wide and unseeing. She can feel Mama’s cool, clammy hand gripping hers. Her grip slackens…
The memories are too much. With a sob, she drops to her knees and buries her face in her hands. It has been so many years; long, hard years of learning to say goodbye. Goodbye to Mama, goodbye to the past… There are days when she can laugh long and loud, and there are days when tears make it hard to breathe. Grace is the only thing that has kept her alive.
Wiping away her tears, she opens the nightstand drawer. Empty. She knew it would be, but she had hoped –
As she pushes the drawer shut, it catches on something. Pulling it back out, she sees a piece of paper, yellow with age. She picks it up and recognizes Mama’s handwriting immediately.
Be still. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and listen. Can’t you hear it?
It’s the sound of grace.
The last words are read through a veil of tears. She closes her eyes and breathes deep. It is silent around her, save the steady beating of her heart. Life.
The sound of grace.