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Bonded

by A. Grace 5 months ago in Short Story

A story of loss and love.

Bonded
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The desert air is dry but cool this early summer morning. Opening the passenger door, I unbuckle the seatbelt and retrieve my grandmother's wooden urn. It is more of a box, with wheat elegantly carved along the corners. Her name is etched on the lid, "Edna Wilson." Cradling it in the crook of my arm, I make my way through the field.

Once, the arid earth was carpeted with vibrant green grasses and wildflowers, blue and white. Without care, it's returned to its original state: barren.

The ancient elm towers over the farmhouse; it grows like a weed and is thriving as well without water as it did when water was plentiful. Its seedlings grow all around the house, and one industrious plant broke through the slats on the porch.

The red paint on the old barn is peeling; cracks and splinters disfigure the wood panels. In places, timber has come loose from the siding, leaving gaping holes in the exterior. The large door lays decaying on the ground, after falling from its hinges. This is my destination.

Walking from the bright outdoors into the musty building feels like walking into the void. My eyes adjust, at last. Rays of sunlight penetrate through breaks in the sides and ceiling, giving the space a soft, dim glow. The scent of hay tickles my nose and fills me with nostalgia.

The walls are painted with memories. The colors are faded, and I can no longer make them out, except my grandmother's eyes. Crinkled and happy, they beam at me from a place both near and far.

In the back of the room, tucked beneath the decomposing landing, beds of straw are spread across the floor. My hands are clammy, and my eyes are full of tears as I make my way through the junk and abandoned tools. I open the box.

Starting in the far-left corner, I gently sprinkle the ashes through the haystacks. I wander to the stable that once housed a long-dead mare, and I pour the last bit of ash on the dirty floor.

With the container now empty, I fall to my hands and knees and cry.

I lay my head in my grimy palms as silence builds in my body. My breathing steadies, and I let the heat of the day overtake me, thinking of nothing. I am vaguely aware of itchiness in my forearms caused by the debris embedded in my skin.

A quiet snort startles me back to attention. The room transforms from dank and dreary to a place radiating warmth. My skin tingles and the hair on my arms stands up.

On the wall in front of me, the pale image brightens and comes to life. A buckskin horse nods her head with excitement, her dusky mane lively and windswept. In the grass, a girl with brown hair and freckles giggles inaudibly. An older woman watches from the fence behind them, her happiness evident in her expression.

With shaking hands, I leave the stall without the urn.

The barn is alight with sounds and alive in technicolor. On the western wall, bluebells dance in a tranquil breeze around the feet of a girl and her grandmother. Their two cerulean dresses billow at their ankles. The sky is endless. The clouds speed away from me like foam in a river.

On the eastern wall, the girl and her grandmother make bread. The aromas of yeast and butter entice me as it bakes. My mouth waters and my heart yearns. They grin at each other, and I can't help but smile too.

From the door, a loving voice says,

"Sweet girl."

My chest heaves as I turn towards the elderly woman with shining emerald eyes and a tender smile. She holds her hand out to me; it is both illustrated and organic. I reach for it. Her wrinkled fingers entwine with my own, and she leads me out into the daylight.

In the grassy meadows, the air smells like lavender. A golden filly prances. I embrace my grandmother, my face in her silver hair. I am warm. I'm home.

"I've missed you."

Short Story

A. Grace

I'm a writer, native to the Western U.S. I enjoy writing fiction and articles on a variety of topics. I'm also a photographer, dog mom, and nature enthusiast.

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A. Grace
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