It wasn’t much of a view, to be sure, but it was something—a little something, in a place where nothing seemed to be the common denominator. An apple tree and a lemon tree, some grass the accompaniment of the fragile voices of birds that frequented the small yard and a short red brick wall to encompass it all.
“The quiet is nice,” she supposed, rocking back and forth in the deck’s swing. “Not much to do here but relax.” And she sighed, not in the contentment she had dreamed would be hers when such a place finally became hers, but in boredom and disappointment. She had expected more, more from herself, more from her life and thereby more of a reward when she settled down at last into a quiet retirement.
Her granddaughter bounced out of the house, the child’s lilting laugh echoing around the yard once or twice before melting away into the soft breeze. The scent of chocolate chip cookies baking in an aged oven wafted through the screen door by the swing.
“Are they done yet, Grandma? They smell so good!” The little child’s voice pleaded almost as much as her eyes.
“Not quite, Little Lovebird. I’ll let you know, don’t you worry.”
“Okay” sighed the little four year old creature of colored lace and red curls before dancing off again, this time heading for the small purple flowers that grew like fluffy cotton balls upon the bushes.
“This is what I wanted, wasn’t it?” The question rose, “To be a grandmother, just a regular grandmother, to do things like a real grandmother does?” Doubts about the quiet life plagued her mind all moments but those when her eyes were fixed on the small, curious face of her granddaughter. There was just so much more out there to experience, to live, to adventure and blunder through!
The little girl stayed for several more hours, enjoying a healthy dinner and monopolizing much of the chocolate chip cookies and milk. Finally, the tired girl went home with her mother a little after sunset.
A knock softly sounded on the door as the woman sat staring into nothing, splayed across her worn leather chair like a kid back from a long day at school. Warily, she stood and opened the door, just a crack at first, then upon seeing who her visitors were, throwing it fully open to invite them inside.
“Are those chocolate chip cookies I smell? Ah Mom, you shouldn’t have!” laughed a slender young woman of red curls not unlike the grandmother’s earlier, younger visitor.
A tall, dark skinned man of grey hair stepped through next, smiling quietly down at her, “Hello, Azreal,” she whispered. He nodded and seated himself in the chair she had been in just previously. Lastly entered a weathered, gnarled old man in short pants and a leather vest, stained shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “Missed ya, M’Dear, no one to keep us heartless widowers in check with you gone,” followed by a peck on the cheek and a wink.
“This is quite a surprise, and not that I’m unhappy to see you all, but why are you here? I would think you would be too busy out adventuring to bother with an elderly woman like me these days.”
“Mom, old you may be but an old woman you are not!” quipped the red head through a mouthful of chocolate chips. “Oh,” she groaned blissfully, “I’ve missed these things. But seriously Mom, if crazy, wiry Qizn over there can keep up with us, you won’t have any problem. And why are you dressed like that? I understand my brother went off and had him a kid and all, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around knitting all day long, or look like you do in any case.” The young woman had put her pretty lips into a pout while her eyes showed sincere dislike of the baggy purple dress and pink shoulder throw.
“I’m just trying to be there for her, that’s all. Like a real grandmother should be. It’s only fitting I dress appropriately.”
An awkward silence followed as all tried to focus on points other than each other. “Mom, I know you love the kid, and I’m sure she loves you too, but do you really think she would want you to cage yourself up like you have? I mean, if she understood it all. You’re an adventurer, you live to live, not to watch everyone else living. I love my niece too. Don’t you think it was hard on all of us when we lost Jon? You lost a son, I lost a brother, we all lost someone, but that doesn’t mean that we cut up who we are inside to be what we aren’t for someone else. You wouldn’t do it for Dad or Jon and I, why do it for her?”
The woman seemed to shrink with age as her daughter spoke on, a girl who seemed much too young to be born of the ashen woman sitting with ankles crossed in a wicker chair.
“Amy doesn’t have anyone left but me now. Her mother knows nothing about us, about our family. Someone needs to be here when she’s ready to learn. I’ll miss the excitement and the new sights, but she needs me here more than I need to be out there.”
“I give up! Azrael, you haven’t said a thing yet, you try and talk some sense into her, won’t you?” The grey haired young man looked from one woman to another, as always, noting the similarities between them. He knew just how stubborn they both were and how strongly empathic they were toward others.
“Your mother’s mind is made up, and she does have a point about the family legacy needing to be passed on. How open do you think the child will be to us if we abandon her completely and just reappear one day with all we have to offer and expect her to make a choice? No, I do think your mother is right,” he said with a voice hinting of regret as his steady gaze drifted between the two.
“Well I think its plain ridiculous. Cooping yourself up in here like you’re gonna die any day now. You were made for travel. You’re gonna make yourself sick staying behind these walls everyday. I know I would be.”
The fidgeting woman sighed. “I’m not you and if I were,” she added with a small smile, “then surely no one would learn anything from me for I would have nothing to teach.” And a small laugh rippled through the quiet room.
“We need to be going, but I’m sure you already knew that, huh Mom?” said the redhead, standing up and stretching.
“Of course, it’s not in our blood to stay still, and our blood surely wouldn’t be in us if we did.”
‘How true, wise old mother” Laughed back the red head embracing the elder woman.
“Join us when you can, promise me, with or without your Little Lovebird. Come back soon?” The girl’s eyes swam with unshed tears.
“I’ll be there when I can, dear,” Was the grandmother’s reply.
And the visitors left as quickly as they had appeared, along with most of the remaining chocolate chip cookies.
Standing in front her mirror before getting into bed, the tired woman passed a hand across the glass, rippling it like a pond’s surface in the night. The reflection was that of a much younger woman, with eyes red like spilt blood and hair red to match.
“Ah, there I am,” she sighed and passed her hand back over the glass. She crawled into bed and pulled the covers around her shoulders. “I can stay in one place for awhile; it won’t take all that long for her to grow up. And then we’ll all go adventuring out together.”
And as she drifted into sleep, in a bed not far away, a small pale girl aunt and a tall dark man with grey hair, walking through the stars together.