Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: Retrieving Memories
By lynn potter
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Like clockwork, Granny left carrying her lantern. I heard the screen door slam just as it did every night around sunset. I never knew where she was going, but I watched her through my bedroom window until she faded away in the distance. Her frame was slight, a bit hunched over, but she left every evening with a determined gait. I stood watch at my post from my bedroom window until the light she was carrying vanished out of sight. All that was left was a track of footprints in the sand and the soothing sound of the tide going out.
We lived in an old house that Great Granddaddy left to Granny. It was on the beach at the end of Seashore Lane. We lived there ever since Mamma had her heart attack and Daddy left her for a younger woman. Mamma lived just a couple months after so Granny and me ended up living on Seashore lane together, just the two of us in her house.
I asked Granny on several occasions what she was doing and she’d give me a big smile, ruffle my hair and say, “Child, I’m out there retrieving memories.”
“Granny,” I would ask. “What do you mean?”
She answered, “You’ll know soon enough one day. Don’t hurry it on. Keep dreaming like you do and when it’s your time, you’ll have more to collect that you’ll know what to do with.”
Yesterday I vowed that I would follow her and find out exactly what she was doing. I didn’t want her to know I was there but I just couldn’t stand the suspense any more. I had to know what retrieving memories was and how to do it. I was twelve going on thirteen and had been watching her from my bedroom window a long time now.
You see, Granny wasn’t really my Grama. She was the nice old lady next door when I was growing up. I always called her Granny cause that was just fitting for her. She felt real bad I didn’t have anybody to raise me and didn’t want the authorities to come for me so she took me in like her own. Granny was real old when I was little. So now, Granny is really, really old.
I figured I should find a lantern and do like Granny did because it was long after dark when I would hear her return. She made me laugh as I listened for the old screen door to squeak open. It reminded me of my friend, Sarah who would slowly open her bedroom window after sneaking out to meet Jake under the old oak tree. I asked her what they were doing but she’d never tell. I told her she should oil that old window or something.
“Granny, you’re way too old to have to sneak into your own house!” I chuckled.
Tonight the moon was out just enough to give me light but not too bright to give me away. I fished out the spare lantern that Granny had in the guest room, the room where Granddaddy breathed his last. I didn’t think I would need it, but thought I’d better be prepared. The Girl Scouts taught me that.
Armed with my lantern and childish nerve, I waited for Granny to get far enough down the beach so I wouldn’t be caught.
“What is she doing now?” I thought. I saw Granny walk over to a shed by Mr. McKelvey’s house. She came back with a big bag hanging from her shoulder.
Then she collapsed.
“Granny!” I went running, faster than I ever thought I could go until I stood by her lifeless form.
I ran to Mr. McKelvey’s house and pounded on the door.
As we waited for the ambulance, I scooped up Granny’s bag and looked in. There was a journal, a pen, and a small beach chair.
I put a rose on Granny’s grave. I held her journal in my hands, tears washing my face. I opened it and read, “Child, walk the beach at twilight until you hear the voice of God. Sit and write. He’ll remind you what was important in your life. That’s how I’ve been retrieving memories all these years.”
Through a flood of tears I read page two, “Today I brought the little girl next door to live with me. What joy fills my heart.”
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