I wrote this short piece for a writing contest at The Write Practice blog; the topic was the summer solstice. It was written and submitted the day before I found out my grandma was dieing. I realized afterward that she must have been on my mind. It received an honorable mention. I hope you enjoy it!
Jewel reclined on her mother's pink, wedding ring quilt spread across the shortly cropped grass of the wide lawn. The Andrews Sisters crooned over the wireless radio, “Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me, with anyone else but me, anyone else but me, no no no...” She smoothed her red polk-a-dot dress and shaded her eyes to catch sight of Amanda. A deep sigh of contentment escaped her lips and she smiled at the thought of having her best friend from boarding school here for a whole week. Amanda's visit was a bright spot punctuating the tense atmosphere of the house. A tension brought on by war, but Jewel refused to think of such dreary things on this the longest and best day of her summer. Amanda waved from the trees that bordered the yard, a bunch of wildflowers in her hand, her golden hair glimmering in the early evening sun.
“Ms. Jewel. It's time for your medicine.” The voice of Florence, the nurse's aid, startled her. The image of Amanda evaporated, her tinkling laughter drifted away and died in the stale air of the room. Jewel sat stooped and shriveled, a shell of what had been, gazing out the grimy nursing home window. The overgrown, tangled mess of the back yard, which moments before had been transformed in her mind, once again reflected her unkempt heart. She turned milky eyes to Florence's warm, brown face and sighed. Like an obedient child she opened her mouth to accept her dose of medication.
After Florence helped her with lunch and put her back in bed Jewel dozed for the afternoon, drifting between what was and had been. The warm sun filtered in through the window and kissed her brow as she slept. Casting it's glow into her dreams it conjured up the past midsummer's night and love. The sound of peepers filled her dreams as shadows softened and wrapped sharp angels in their velvet hands. Jim slipped his arm around her waist while they strolled the path that wound alongside the chattering creek. Music filled the air as frogs and water, night birds and katydids serenaded the lovers. The path was still visible as the sun hesitated to say goodnight; was he watching with fiery eyed envy to catch a glimpse of love blossoming? Their love did burst into bloom that night as Jim proposed a life spent together. Finally the sun sank behind the pines, relinquishing his hold on the day, having pushed his claim further than usual.
Alone for the evening Jewel allowed her mind to wander freely; mentally strolling backward in time, in and out of summer days. Her mind stopped as she approached her grandmother's house. She climbed the steps of the broad, old fashioned porch, white and gabled to attention. The fragrance of red climbing roses wafted through her memory. Her grandmother and mother, side by side on the wicker porch swing, beckoned her up. Pride pounded in her chest as she lay her infant daughter in Granny's arms. Her own mother beamed up at her, reflecting the same emotion. Jewel sank down in an adjacent ladder back chair and took in the sight. Four generations together. The women talked long into the June twilight, not noticing the late hour, until lightning bugs announced the waning day. That evening Jewel was inaugurated by her matriarchs, signaling she was one of them, a mother.
Jewel's silver hair fanned out on her shoulders and caught gold as the sun set, stretching out it's rosy fingers to stroke the thin strands. Her head sank against the recliner. In her twilight moment the golden glow from the longest days of her life reached out and ushered her into the expanse of eternity. When Wanda came to tuck Jewel into bed she found the lifeless old lady, face lifted to the setting sun, with a smile frozen on her face.