"Grandma, we nearly have everything unpacked. Where would you like this notebook to go?" A young woman asks, holding up a small leatherback booklet. It was maybe half a foot in length, with a black fabric tie around it. An elderly woman slowly moves into view. "Ah, my old friend. I had feared I lost you in the move." The older woman takes it gingerly from the hands of her granddaughter, slightly caressing the spine of the little black book. The young woman shakes her head with a sigh. She then proceeds to break down the empty box before her. "You act like that thing is alive, grandma." She turns to face her grandmother and the older lady chuckles. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Call me senile you would." A smile cracks on the old woman's features, but it turns sad when she looks at the book once more. "It has been with me and helped me many times, Cassidy."
When the two lock eyes, the older lady nods her head. "Take that last box out then come in for a break. I will make some coffee." Cassidy nods her head and starts to head towards the door. The grandmother waddles into the kitchen, carefully setting the notebook down on the table. "Oh dear, how should I tell her, old friend? I am almost out of years left. Would you mind going to someone new after all this time?" She turns to look at the book for a moment, then continues prepping the coffee maker. Soon, the warm soothing smell lures the younger woman back to the kitchen. "That smells wonderful grandma!"
"Oh dear, you think all coffee smells wonderful." Cassidy laughs while her grandmother offers a warm cup of the dark liquid. For a moment, silence fills the room as both enjoy the steaming drink. Finally, the grandmother speaks up. "Cassidy? I would like you to keep this notebook." The younger woman looks at her grandmother with curiosity. "I thought you loved that thing?" Her grandmother nods somberly in reply. "I do, but I know it will serve you better than I right now. I have everything I need." She rests her wrinkled hand on her granddaughters with a warm smile. "I have a lovely new home, a nurse that is willing to deal with all my needs, and a granddaughter who has yet to be late to anything I ask of her." Cassidy only smiles and turns her hand to hold her frail grandmother's.
"After everything you have done for me grandma, it's the least I can do." The older lady sighs, then moves her hand to slide the book closer to Cassidy. "That is why I want you to take this. Should you feel alone or in need, simply write in it. Please," She holds up a hand as Cassidy starts to question her. "Don't ask questions. Just trust your grandma on this, understood?" The young woman closes her mouth and nods. She gently takes the notebook and holds it carefully. It seems old and worn, but Cassidy feels something different hiding behind the leather the moment her hand grazes it. She lifts her eyes to meet her grandmother's, but the older lady only offers a smile.
"Now, off with you! Don't you have class soon?" Cassidy shakes her head. "No, grandma. It's Saturday! I don't have classes on the weekend. And I don't have work today. I requested it off to help you move." The older lady shakes her head. "No, no. Not that. Didn't you mention a... what do you kids call it now? Strategic grouping?" Cassidy suddenly realizes what her grandmother meant. "Oh! Study group! You're right, it's in an hour! Thanks, grandma!" She quickly stands and moves around the table to hug and kiss her grandmother. The older lady quickly returns the gesture and smiles as she watches her oldest grandchild rush out the door with the notebook in hand.
"Serve her well, old friend. Bring her good fortune." A smile is on her face as she turns and faces the other side of the table. The now empty cup from her granddaughter sits there, then slightly shifts as if a heavy wind pushed it over a bit. The older lady only smiles as the feeling of a hand drifts across her shoulder before vanishing once more.
Five months pass by, and Cassidy sits alone at that same table. She sits at the same spot she had sat in those few months ago. The house had once felt homely and thriving. Now, it only felt cold and lonely.
But Cassidy couldn't let it go yet.
Tears start to fall once more, and the young woman sniffs in a weak attempt to hold them back. "They said you were getting better... You weren't supposed to go this fast. What am I going to do without you, grandma?" Laying her head on her arms, the woman begins to weep loudly. With the house empty, no one could hear her, so she just lets it out. She felt so alone without her grandmother there, despite the study group that said they would be there for her through this time.
Cassidy slowly lifts her head, spotting the clock on the wall across from her. She had just over an hour before the group was to meet, meaning she could stay for a little while longer. However, the young woman knew that if her grandmother was here, she'd remind her of that last time when she left with only an hour’s time, and then hit traffic and arrived nearly thirty minutes late. A smile breaks the poor woman's features. "You always did have the best advice, grandma..."
Slowly, Cassidy stands. She reaches down to pick up a backpack that was at her feet. As she stands, the zipper seems to open up, and out tumbles the little old leatherback black book. Cassidy stops and sets the bag back down on the ground. She then carefully picks up the notebook and looks it over. She hadn't really done much with the little journal since her grandmother gave it to her. However, now she remembers the words spoken to her by that lovely woman.
"Should you feel alone or in need, simply write in it."
Cassidy had never felt more alone, so she sits back down and carefully unties the black fabric. Setting it to the side, she then opens the cover and lets out a slight gasp. Flipping through a few pages quickly, she shakes her head and moves it back to the first page.
The journal was empty.
Confusion plays across her mind, but she remembers her grandmother said to trust her. She had never led Cassidy astray in the past, so the young woman grabs out a pen from her bag and begins to write.
"Well, I've never truly kept a journal before, but grandma gave this to me. She said to write in it when I felt alone, and I do right now. She wasn't supposed to leave yet. What am I going to do now without her? She was my lifeline. My anchor. My best friend. Now she's gone."
At that, the young lady breaks again, and tears start to fall. A few land on the page and Cassidy quickly wipes her eyes. As she reaches to try and dry off the little drops, they are suddenly absorbed by the pages. Shock sets in for a moment, but fear swiftly takes over when the page blanks. Cassidy launches back out of the chair. Gasping for air, the woman keeps her wide-eyed gaze on the booklet. 'Grandma, what the heck!?'
Suddenly, words begin to appear on the page in fine writing, as if someone, or something, was from the olden days. Slowly, the woman moves forward and eyes the page cautiously. The words read simply, "I did not mean to startle you, but I, too, miss your grandmother dearly."
Cassidy, slowly getting over the fear, returns to the table completely and watches as more words appear. "She asked me to serve you well, and she never once treated me rudely, or abused my abilities, so I will do as she asked. What do you want most?" Before Cassidy can grab her pen, the page clears and a few more words show up slowly.
"Besides your grandmother to return. That, unfortunately, I cannot do."
Sorrow fills the woman, but she smiles instead. Grabbing her pen, she thinks for a moment before she begins writing. "I don't have many needs myself. As my grandma always said, I really do have all I need." Cassidy stops writing and sets the pen down, hoping the book understood that meant she was done. The page blanks, and Cassidy nods to herself slightly.
It takes a few moments before words reappear, a little slower this time. "You remind me of her. Are you certain there is nothing I can help with? I would like to fulfill her last wish." Cassidy thinks for a moment, then an idea comes to mind. It was partially for her, and for all her friends in her study group. "The only thing I can think of that I would need help with would be the student loan debt my friends and I have. We are going to graduate soon, but the debt could knock us off-course for our dream careers." Just before the page blanks, Cassidy quickly adds, "However! I don't want any help until I get your name, please!" The page lingers for a bit, then it finally blanks. The words appear quickly as if pleased with the reply.
"My name is Alexander, and I would be most happy to help out there. Can you give me specifics?"
And, for the next few hours, Cassidy told Alexander everything she could until it was just small talk between the young woman and the ghost of the notebook.
She was definitely going to miss study group this week.
"I would like to thank everyone for coming to the grand opening of my cafe!" Cassidy speaks, standing before a small building with a sign above her head that read "The Cass Cafe". A neatly tied ribbon was blocking the doorway, but the windows revealed what was inside. Tables and seats were carefully placed, and one wall was lined with a large bookshelf. Cassidy speaks again, holding back tears. "I wish my grandmother could be here today, as I would like to honor her today for always telling me to chase my dream." The young woman's eyes scan the crowd, and she imagines her grandmother there, waving at her. Doing her best to keep her face happy, the new cafe owner continues.
"I would also like to thank and honor one of my grandmother's dearest friends that helped to make this possible for not only myself but for my other friends as well." She looks over to a group of young adults that all cheer loudly. Her study group. She smiles and waves at them. "Alexander, we thank you for your donation to help us all chase our dreams. Now, without further ado, welcome to The Cass Cafe!"
Turning on her heel, Cassidy reveals a pair of scissors and cuts the ribbon. Thunderous applause roars from the crowd that consisted of her family and friends. She turns to face them as a cool breeze blows by. The fleeting feeling of a hand on her shoulder makes her smile, and she pats the book that was in her pants pocket. "Thanks, Alex. I really mean that." She swears the feeling tightens on her shoulder slightly before vanishing. Cassidy finally understands why her grandmother gave it to her, and she lifts her eyes to the sky.
"Thank you, grandma."
The wind blows by again, and this time a leaf grazes her cheek, but it didn't feel like a leaf.
It felt like a kiss.
Cassidy smiles, then turns to open the doors to her cafe.