Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
TITLE: Lillian's Journey
By Marita Thelander
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Work-worn fingers clutched the little bouquet of wildflowers she picked along the way. She spun until her dizziness threw her to the ground. The sky whirled out of control as her hazel eyes danced.
Tears streamed down her face leaving a trail through dirt and grime. Today she would leave her beloved prairie so Father could find work in Oregon.
“Life is too hard here,” her father’s voice could be heard over her mama’s sobs. “Oregon has work. Farming is plentiful.” He paced as he tried to reason with her. “There’s work in the forests, too. I’m not like your pa. I can’t make it work here. I’m sorry.”
Lillian’s tears increased as the sky grew still.
She jumped to her feet and stumbled in a sleepy stupor. Father stood next to the wagon angrily waving her towards him. “Crimeny, Girl, we’ve been looking all over for you.” He paused to spit, “I’ve been through here twice and didn’t see you lying in the prairie grass. Git on up here, Lilly-Girl.”
Numbness filled Lillian’s heart, body, and soul as they rolled away from the homestead. Mama sat stiff and tall next to Father. No words…only silence.
Lillian settled in among her siblings and let the rhythm of the wagon rock her to sleep. She didn’t care if this should be an adventure, she would sleep all the way to Oregon.
Kristen giggled when she glanced at her Gra’ma Lillian. Her head leaned back and mouth gaped open. Once in awhile she’d let out a snore.
Lillian stirred when Kristen pulled her car off at a rest area. “Do you feel like you need to stretch your legs a bit, Gra’ma?”
“Sure,” Lillian yawned and wiped drool from the corner of her mouth as she stretched.
The pair walked arm-in-arm around the rest area as strangers smiled. “You know, Kristen-dear, I appreciate this trip so much.”
“I know, Gra’ma. It’s my pleasure to do this, besides, it’s an adventure.”
“Oh yeah, I’m such the adventurer sleeping all the way so far.” Lillian laughed, “You know I slept most of the way to Oregon seventy years ago. I didn’t want to enjoy anything.”
“At least it’s a much faster journey these days.” Kristen opened the door for Lillian and assisted her inside.
“More comfortable, too,” Lillian played with the power windows like a little girl just to make her granddaughter smile.
Kristen pulled back onto the highway and sped up.
“Are we there yet?” Lillian sighed.
Kristen laughed, “No, Lilly-girl, be patient.”
Lillian gave Kristen a sideways glance, “That’s what my father called me.”
Several minutes passed as Lillian watched telephone poles speed by. “I never forgave Father for moving us to Oregon.”
Kristen reached over and patted her grandmother’s leg.
“My siblings all adjusted well. I got held back in school…two years in a row.” Lillian wiped a tear as it rolled down her wrinkled face. “Father would tell me I was just like Mama. I’m not sure if she ever forgave him either. She never saw her folks alive again, only dead, in a coffin. She only returned for funerals.”
Lillian had no interest in the scenery anymore. She closed her eyes and fell asleep.
“Grandma,” Kristen whispered. “We’re about an hour from the old homestead.”
Lillian sat straight and absorbed the sight; miles and miles of prairie land. “Pull over here,” Lillian pointed with urgency.
“Is that it up ahead?” Kristen nodded to what appeared to be a couple houses and rickety old out buildings.
“Yes,” Lillian climbed out of the car.
As if in a daze, Lillian walked into the prairie grasses several feet off the roadway. Kristen followed at a distance.
Lillian stretched her arms out and began a slow spin, gazing into the deep blue sky that went on forever and ever. She sat herself down gently on the ground and then laid still as she watched the sky spin.
Kristen approached and heard her grandmother’s sobs. “I’m sorry. I forgive you, Father. You did what you thought best for your family.”
Kristen lay down and cradled her grandmother in her arms as forgiveness swept over Lillian’s heart. That day the prairie winds carried away Lillian’s bitterness…forever.
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