Darla leaned back against the wall as she sat on the dusty attic floor, wiping the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. She held back tears as she gazed at the murky sunlight timidly spilling through the little round window and mingling with the dust and cobwebs. It must have been at least two decades since anyone had been in Grandma's attic. She wished she could have been up here under happier circumstances, that she could have sorted through these things with Grandma instead of doing it alone. She struggled against the sting of regret as it threatened to drag her down again.
Darla remembered playing in this attic as a child. She's spent many an hour digging in the large trunks and peeking in boxes, hunting for little treasures from her Grandmothers life. Mementos and heirlooms and trinkets filled the space waiting to delight and entertain her. The attic was messy and cluttered, as it always had been, and probably not the safest place for a child to play. But it became a second home to Darla. It was her hiding place, her refuge. As she'd grown her visits changed from treasure hunts, dress-up sessions, and tea parties to quiet time and contemplative moments spent scribbling in a notebook or drawing on a sketch pad.
Tears rolled down her cheeks and dripped from her chin to her chest as the memories washed over her, dissipating in the sweat that was once again accumulating on her skin. The weight of it all was matched only by the heat of the Wisconson summer, and Darla decided it was time to take a break. She pulled herself up off the floor and brushed the dust off her pants as she headed to the narrow staircase that lead down into the turn-of-the-century Midwest farm house.
Coming here from her California home was like a time warp, a real life twilight zone. The stark contrast between the hustle and bustle of her life in the Bay Area and this quiet piece of country in Excelsior still came as a shock to her. From the fast-paced, every man for himself attitude in California to the outskirts of town with little more to offer in amenities than the abundant hospitality and friendly smiles.
Finishing her descent from the second floor to the first now, Darla entered the large kitchen in the back of the house. She paused at the kitchen sink for a moment, gazing out the window at a garden now overgrown with weeds. As much as she loved it, Grandma just couldn't keep up with tending the little plot after she'd fallen ill in late June. Darla felt a twinge of guilt at not coming sooner, but she had been laid up herself because of morning sickness.
She let out a sigh as she poured a glass of lemonade and pondered the irony of it. Sickness. Sickness had kept them apart as one life began and another drew to an end. Her heart ached over the separation and the realization that this woman, who'd been such a precious part of her life, would never meet this unborn child. Exhaustion set in and Darla sipped her lemonade as she stepped out onto the shady wrap-around porch and seated herself in Grandma's swing.
A rapid fire flashing of memories raced through her mind. She could replay nearly her whole life in snapshots of her and her grandmother in that swing together. Right up to days before Grandma's passing when they had lounged there together on a breezy afternoon. Her grandmother snoozing peacefully in the swing under her favorite blanket. A pale blue blanket, edged in lace. A lacey blanket that still sat, folded neatly, at one end of the seat.
A light breeze struggled against the oppressive heat of the day and Darla layed down on the swing, resting her head on the blanket. She let the lingering scent of her grandmother's perfume comfort and lull her to sleep as the condensation rolled down the sides of her glass mimicking the tears on her cheeks.