It was usually well after midnight when Grandy started in on it- it being the invention of horrific nightmares, feigning serious symptoms of illness, suffering sudden relapses into her childhood and other such skullduggery- to wit, anything that would assure she was not the only one in the house that was not asleep.
Tonight it began with a low moan, which I chose to ignore in favor of rolling over, putting my head under my pillow and going back to sleep.
It must have worked, as I was in the middle of a dream in which my youngest daughter, Jennie, came to me doubled over in pain, “Mom, I need to go to the emergency room!” she screamed out to me before disappearing down a long corridor filled with wooden doors, any of which she could have entered into, and none of which looked familiar- when Grandy let out a howl that in combination with the events of my dream had me flying down the hall, calling out my daughters name before I was awake enough to realize, my youngest was now thirty-five and living in Detroit.
“Elizabeth?” Grandy beckoned to me through the bedroom door. “Elizabeth? Did you hear it too?”
“Yes, I heard it, uh… What do you mean too?” I puzzled as I opened her bedroom door only to find her room dark, and Grandy huddled sleepily beneath the covers
“You mean that howl wasn’t you?”
“No, dear. I thought it was you, well that is until I heard you in the hall calling for Jennie. Is Jennie here?”
“No, Grandy. I guess I was having a nightmare.” I began, as I took a seat beside her on the bed and switched on the bedside lamp. “I was dreaming Jennie was still a little girl, she was very sick and needed my help, but before I could do anything, she disappeared down a long hall filled with doors. When I heard that dreadful howl, well, I guess I thought it was Jennie because in my dream I was desperate to find her. Then I woke up in the hall, and realized it couldn’t have been Jennie, she’s all grown up now with a family all her own.”
Grandy sat up and gently put her arm around me. “There, there now. It was just that. Only a dream. I have them myself. All the time. Dreams that take me back to a time in my life when so many lives depended on me. Your grandfather, your mother, your Auntie Louise. For a moment, in those dreams, I feel useful. I forget that I am old. That your grandfather is gone. That your mother is gone. That your Auntie Louise has no time for an old woman like me in her life. I am young and vital and all three of their worlds still revolve around me. I’m needed. I feel loved.”
“It is from those dreams I awaken, lost, scared, alone. So many nights, I awaken from just such a dream, panicked by not only the dream, but the reality of what I wake up to. I look around and see what was once my life, whittled down to a few familiar pieces of furniture and some old photos on the bureau.”
“It is on those nights when I am forced to realize that I have lived far past the point of my own usefulness, that I get you to sit up with me. Often times even I will admit under many a nonsensical pretense, just so you will know that someone still depends on you. You are still needed- even if it is just by a little old woman who’s saving grace, is that she has been blessed with the good fortune to call you grand-daughter.”
We sat in silence for a moment, Grandy’s arm still tight around my shoulder before she gave my arm a little squeze, and pushed back her covers. “Come on. Climb in. Let Grandy get us a cup of tea. When I get back we’ll make up a scary story to explain the howl that woke us both tonight and saved us from our dreams.”
“Grandy?” I called out to her in a tone more reminiscent of the playful child I once was than reflective of the fifty something mother of three adult chilren I now was, “Can you put sugar in mine?”
“Of course my child. How much sugar?”
This was written utilizing the prompts provided by the On-line Writers Guild challenge #2. I also included the prompt word: Howl as provided by Denise on her Six Sentence Story Challenge, however, as you can see I did not fit my story into six sentences…. The phrases provided by OLWG were:
- Mom, I need to go to the emergency room
- How much sugar?
- And other such skullduggery