Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: The Brick
By Susan martin
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I was dating her grandson, who seemed to share an unspoken bond with her. I can tell that she longed to talk, but was kept behind a door where she was brought her meals everyday and allowed to sit in the outdoor patio a couple of hours in the afternoon. Her name was Greta, and it was only when everyone was still at work and I would have time to stop by after high school that I got to know this lonely and guilt ridden woman.
She was married over fifty years to an abusive alcoholic who never wanted children,and one night in a moment of mind-numbing uncontrollable rage, he set their house on fire to try and exterminate the young sons that he despised so much. There was only time enough for her to save one son. I wonder what her life would be like if she had saved the other’s life instead. She always enjoyed my visits, but when we heard either of the cars pull up I knew my visit was done for the day.
The summer of 1972, the family was planning a two week vacation and asked me to watch their mother while they were gone. The instructions were very simple, everyday after school I would stop by, heat up a frozen TV dinner, make sure she had water and clean clothes, and drop her dinner on a tray in her room. Then after giving her a half hour to eat, clean up after her, and set the lights then I could go home.
This was finally my chance to give Greta the freedom of not having to stay cooped up in a small room. I would occasionally cook something special for her for dinner, so she wouldn’t have to endure heated frozen food every night and would set her tray up outside so she can enjoy the beautiful garden that was ‘her’ backyard.
On that first weekend I got to go over early in the day; however, I was surprised to see Greta doing something that brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. As I was heading towards her bedroom I glanced to my right out the large sliding glass door and watched Greta hunched over, dragging a large towel behind her with a red brick on it across the yard to an area where other red bricks lay. After she would pull the towel from under the brick, she would push the brick with her foot to form a wavelike pattern around the garden of blooming flowers. Then she would go back to the other side of the yard to where the stack of bricks lay and do the same thing again and again.
I just didn’t have the heart to disturb her from doing something that she seemed to really enjoy and the little bit of freedom that she finally had, so I quietly closed the front door behind me as I left and decided to come back later for my regular dinner visit.
When her family came home from their vacation, I kept her secret by telling everyone that while Greta was eating, I passed the time by decorating the flower garden from the bricks they had stacked in the corner of the yard; they all thought I did a wonderful job.
After I graduated high school, jobs and other commitments took me and my boyfriend in different directions and I never had another opportunity to see Greta before she passed away. I wish I had though because her family decided that they just didn’t have the time to take care of her anymore and needed her room, so they put her in a home where she quietly passed away and was buried the way she lived her last few years-alone.
When I visited her grave to say my good-byes, I left a red brick on her head stone; it was my last way to let her know that I cared.
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