Take Me Home

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


A short story inspired by the 2nd December 2017 Picture Prompt from the Imaginarium House.

Submitted: December 10, 2017

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Submitted: December 10, 2017

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Take Me Home

Beth, your Grandma has asked to see you. She’s not got long left. Will you go?”

Oh, Mom, it’s been years.....Will she even recognize me? After all, she’s crazy, right. Isn’t that what you’ve been telling me all these years?”

I’m not going to force you, not if you don’t want to go. But she’s dying. I don’t want you to feel guilty in the future.....”

No, I’ll go. I’ll go tomorrow. And if she doesn’t know me, fair enough, I’ll just leave.”

The ward looked much like any other; beds side by side, a small locker and a larger cupboard. The only difference with this to most was that the majority of patients  had been there for years,and mostly did not know where ‘there’ was.

In spite of the passage of time since they’d last met, Beth recognised her grandmother instantly. She looked so thin, so frail.....like a breath of wind would knock her from her feet and keep her down. It was obvious that she was dying, and not only that, but that she knew it, too.

She had not eaten for years, not proper food. Sometimes they had fed her through tubes, but no matter how weak and malnourished she became she maintained that she could not ‘eat human food any more.’ She had been convinced that she had lived elsewhere for years, but had in fact only been away from her home for an hour. Something happened in that hour, something that stole her sanity, but no one had been able to discover what that ‘something’ had been.

The old woman looked up as Beth approached her bed; it was as though a cloud lifted and she smiled in recognition. “Bethany.....I knew you’d come.”

Those words dissolved Beth’s reluctance and she hurried forward to gently hug her grandmother. She’d known her instantly; she was not so crazy after all.

I don’t have long, Bethany, I have to go home, and to do that I need your help. But it must be a secret between the two of us. Don’t even tell your mother. Will you do it? Will you help me?”

What was she asking? Beth did not know what to say, did not know what she was committing to. “I’ll do my best. What is it you want me to do?”

Look in my locker there and you’ll find some photos. Pass them to me and I’ll show you.”

Beth found the envelope of photographs and placed them in to her grandmother’s shaking hands. But the old woman shook her head. “You look through them, show me. I’ll tell you the one when you get to it.”

Pictures of her as a child flashed in front of Beth’s eyes; pictures of her mother in happier times, even ones of her grandparents, and then a bridge covered in snow. One she thought she recognized, but at the same time had never seen before.

That one!” Her grandmother almost sounded excited. “There; that is where I want you to take me.”

And even if they would, I’d not know where to go. And I can’t drive.” After all that. she was going to have to disappoint her grandmother, let her down.

The woman was shaking her head. “No. You misunderstand. I want you to take me there, take me home, in your dreams. They have been waiting for me.....for such a long, long time. Please, Bethany, say you’ll take me home.” The woman pressed the photo into the girl’s hand.

So she was mad, completely insane. But Beth said, “I’ll try.” And when she left there was almost a smile on the old woman’s face.

That night, Beth fell in to a deep sleep, almost as soon as her head touched the pillow. She was walking along a road in the snow, almost skipping, and a woman walked beside her, laughing but cautioning her to be careful of the ice. It was a happy scene, pleasantly relaxed.

They rounded a corner and there in front of them was a bridge. It was not wide, certainly not wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other. The waist height railings were white with snow. The woman turned to Beth. “You must stay here. I’ve got to cross the bridge but you must not set foot on it. Promise me!”

Yes, Gran,” a much younger Beth answered.

And the woman stepped forward. As soon as her feet were on the bridge, walking forward, a group of the most fantastic beings Beth had ever seen moved forward to surround the woman. They laughed, the woman laughed.....And Beth woke up.

The call came at 7.30am the following morning. Her grandmother, her mother’s mother, had died peacefully in her sleep. She even had a smile on her face. Beth tried to hold back the tears as she comforted her mother.

Later that day, alone in her room, she remembered the photo. She took it from under her pillow and studied it. As she looked, a figure appeared faintly on the print, with others that looked so strange, so magical. The woman turned, smiled and waved then the photo cleared....was as it first was.

Bethany smiled, just slightly. Her grandmother had always said she’d gone to Faerie Land, had eaten Faerie food; nobody had believed her, not until that very moment.

Goodbye, Grandma. I’m glad I could help you get home.” Beth placed the photo safely away, would keep it out of sight. She had made a promise of secrecy and she would keep it, her grandmother deserved no less.

 


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