The room was dark, musty. The smell wafts slowly toward me, like an old person rising to greet a long lost friend. Even the hinges creak hello softly as I push the door to my grandmother's bedroom wide open. Dust swirls around me as my presence finally creates a wind of life raising the dead. What stories could the sparkling particles tell that vie for my attention as I rush to open the thick wood blinds? What is recorded in their layers of my grandmother's last days? Their silvery twinkles fall to settle at my feet as I survey the room in the dimming light.
Her bed is still neatly made, covered in the many-colored, multi-textured quilt we made after my parents died in a car crash. She knew I hated to talk about my emotions and she kept me busy, sane with the plotting and planning of a quilt that would represent our family. I still find it amazing that a piece of cloth, nearly square, neatly stitched had such power. I still marvel that random scraps had the ability to be a trigger of information that could break one down, make one laugh, or sigh for the wanting of the past.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, facing the plain, oak headboard, I settle easily in the indentation that I created while watching grandmother's shallow, labored breathing, night after night. I tried to be there, to keep her from dying alone. I failed, called away by an emergency at work. Her gentle, but firm, "Go Amelia, go..."
A false call, for when I arrived, no one was there. By the time I returned...tears creep up. Suddenly I can feel her hand in mine. So very real. I close my eyes, it's comforting to hold again, her thin, bony and dry crepe-paper skin. I trace the patch with blood-red rose that we had picked to represent her. She said the petals and thorns accurately depicted life. I did not understand her then. My twelve year old mind thought it was beautiful like her.
The temperature abruptly drops. A wisp of air blows across my cheek, causing me to turn. I hear a whisper in my ear. The chills cause me to stand up and my attention is drawn to warm sunlight that unnaturally illuminates the corner. The unique, triangular dresser beckons. The hand-painted golden roses gleam. I finger the tiny skeletal key at my neck. It feels like ice and I lift it off my skin.
"Hurry, hurry!" Was that Grandmother's voice or mine? The urgency swells, am I imagining tires coming down the gravel road? I tug at the key, breaking the silver chain. No time to worry, I unlock the third drawer, flip it upside down, press the left corner of the base of the triangle. It pops open. Were there two sighs of relief? I turn my head and catch a glimpse of a shadow. No time to worry. I clutch the dark, velvet wrap tightly. The hard shape reassuring me it's definitely there. The only thing I would take away with me. I back away, quickly scanning, the room would look undisturbed, except for the dust. It records my presence, the others will know I was here first. There is nothing I can do. The neighbor's dogs bark Yes, they are coming. But I have it. The proof of beginning and the end of the entire bloodline of La Croix.