Today that girl sits in a wheelchair outside the door to her room, the familiar aroma of lunch wafting around the corner from the rec room. It came to her sometime in the night: the names of the couple she remembered visiting in the sagebrush so long ago. His name was Tony and his whiskers always scratched her face. His voice was gravelly and she thought some of his words didn’t belong to her language. The woman, Annie, wore braids too and was very soft to hug. The older women had been best friends but lived nearly 50 miles from each other, past the reservation and into the Portneuf Gap.
Did she imagine that round wooden table and how she could stand up underneath it with room to spare? Eyes closed, she could hear the thunder rolling across the hills, see the sky darken and the pungent smell of rain falling on sagebrush. She knew for certain that on those occasions the four adults sat around that table, holding hands and talking softly to each other . . . and later to someone else. She was content to play under the table. If she did peek out she was shushed back under for ‘just a little while longer.’ Before the long ride home after supper, Annie gave her friend several larger rolls of paper tied with string. At home she watched as these were taped to the wall of the old woman’s bedroom. And since she slept on a small daybed in the corner of that same room, the little girl woke up each day to pastel drawings of multi-colored sunsets or sunrises always over the same broad expanse of valley with rolling hills behind. Sometimes birds flew across the drawings.
All of the characters playing in her memory were gone now. Even the cinderblock house had been razed leaving only the well pump visible. Once she visited her uncle, the Studebaker driver. She didn’t know this would be the last conversation she would have with him. They talked about marigolds, the chickens in the coops, and reminisced about the dogs that they had when she was small. Casually she asked if those had been séances at Annie’s house. Never a man to squander words he answered, ‘Noni, there are spirits of the dead who are having a hard time passing to the other side. We tried to help them.’
Written from a prompt at Sunday Scribblings. Read more 'out of this world' here.