Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GREEN (01/19/17)
TITLE: Unlikely Legacy
By Ann Grover
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I loved Grandma Hazel’s house. I loved Grandma Hazel.
“It’s peacock eggs for breakfast today, Laurel.” I was staying with her, as I often did, while the rest of my family were busy with grown-up activities. I giggled as she filled my glass with orchid juice, fresh from an Amazonian jungle, delivered that very morning, she said, by the magpie strutting across the grass.
After we ate breakfast and wiped the table (which had once belonged to a German princess) and put away the dishes (from ancient Rome), we went outside, while it was yet cool, to work in the yard and garden.
Surrounded by a willow withy fence, the garden was a labyrinth of herbs and flowers, vines and shrubs, twined together in unruly camaraderie. Hollyhocks gazed into the eyes of sunflowers, while pansies and parsley danced at their feet. Peonies languished beside bold tiger lilies, and peavines wandered with the morning glory.
We weeded and watered while Grandma Hazel taught me the botanical names of the plants. Their uses. Their care.
“Try this,” Grandma handed me a leaf.
“It tastes like candy.”
“Mint. Now, don’t you go eating just anything from the garden. Lettuce, yes. Beans, yes. You hear?”
She told me stories, winging me away to places she’d been and places that seemed too magnificent to believe. When I grew tired of weeding and plucking spent flowers, I listened as I rested against the small boulder in the centre of the garden. Butterflies browsed amongst the flowers, and an inchworm folded and stretched, like the pleats of a concertina, along a delphinium leaf.
“Grandma, where’d this rock come from?”
“A dragon brought it.”
“No, Grandma. For true.”
“Your granddad and I found it. In the mountains up north.”
I pushed it. It wouldn’t budge.
“How did you lift it?”
“I ate spinach.” She flexed her arm, chuckling. “Actually, it was your granddad and your Great Uncle Michael and me together. It was a long time ago, before your mommy was born. It’s a special stone, Laurel.” She tapped her trowel against the rock, and it rang like a bell. “There’s magic inside, Laurel. Wishes to come true. Dreams. Healing.”
I looked at the dull green boulder doubtfully. It was just a rock, dusty and ordinary.
Soon after, I fell asleep, curled up on the wooly thyme beneath the bower of a mountain ash, misty visions of faraway castles and snow-mantled mountains and dark-timbered forests drifting through my head.
We had reindeer stew and zebra milk for supper, and then I bathed. Afterwards, wrapped in a silk kimono (from Japan), I watched the soapy water, bearing the soil of my day, funnel down the drain and flow away to the sea, which Grandma said was waiting to embrace its kin.
Then too soon, Grandma Hazel was gone. Her effervescence, her vitality, no more. Her stories, her extravagant, fanciful stories, silenced.
I was disconsolate, yet aware of the murmuring around me.
“It’s all worthless junk.”
“If we take everything out, the house will collapse.”
“Just throw a match to it.”
I wanted to keep everything, but I knew that was unreasonable. And without Grandma to infuse it all with mystery, her treasures were no more than lackluster knickknacks and worthless trinkets. The house was old, the land valuable, and in the end, Grandma Hazel’s will made the decision. Everything was to be sold and the proceeds divided between my mom and siblings.
Except for one thing.
To my beloved granddaughter Laurel, I leave the stone in the centre of the garden.
When the boulder was lifted from the place where it had rested in the middle of the overgrown garden for over fifty years, there was a small raw spot on its underside. A spot that gleamed with mystical green translucency when I wiped away the soil with a damp cloth.
From a fragment of that unremarkable but precious boulder, I had a small jade heart fashioned. I wear it always, strung on a fine gold chain around my neck. It is inscribed with a single word.
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