Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fiction: The Cycle of Life

Ruth paused from washing her dishes to look out her kitchen window. Her robin was back. She smiled as she watched him gobble up the grape jelly. She loved watching her birds. It made doing the dishes a less dreary chore. She had put out the grape jelly to attract orioles, but the robins seem to like it also.

"Missy come here quick!" Her little granddaughter had just come into the kitchen for breakfast.

Missy rubbed her sleepy eyes and walked slowly over to her grandma. She was not about being quick in the morning. Ruth picked her up, so she could look out the window.

"Oh. Grandma! What a pretty bird!" she exclaimed.

"See, I told you birds liked to eat jelly, just like you!" Ruth was happy to finally get a smile from her granddaughter.

"It would have been nice, though if you had saved some of that jelly for us!" Grandpa Wally had just come in from his chores. He paused at the sink to give both his girls a morning kiss.

"Grandpa, Your face is all scratchy. You need to shave your whiskers!"

Ruth laughed, "You tell him girl! He won't listen to me!"

Wally put his hands on his hips. " Don't y'all start to gang up on me now!"

Ruth smiled. "Just sit down old man, your breakfast is ready!"

Ruth had scrambled eggs and sausage cooked and had been keeping it warm on the stove. She brought the frying pan over to the table and set it down on the trivet.

"You're staring to slow down Grandpa Wally! Missy and I were about to eat this fine breakfast without you!"

Wally feigned a mock protest then added. "I had to stop and check on Chocolate. I thought for sure that old goat would have her babies when I came out this this morning, but nothing yet."

"Were going to have baby goats!" Missy was excited!

"Maybe today baby girl, maybe today." said Wally with a broad smile. "Baby goats are called kids, just like you."

Ruth was smiling too. That was the most Missy had said at one time since the funeral.

"Grandma," Missy looked serious again, "Can Mama see the goats up in heaven?"

Ruth bit her lip before answering and looked across the table at her husband.

"Of course she can baby girl. She can see everything that we do." Ruth replied gently.

"Is God mad at us? Is that why he took Mama away?"

Ruth fought back the emotion building inside her and simply replied. "No baby, God isn't mad. He just wanted your Mama up in heaven with him."

"But, it's not fair!" she protested. "I need her here!" Missy started to cry again. Ruth picked her up and just held her.

Wally abruptly got up and left the table. Ruth could see a tear in his eye as he left the room. He had not been talking much lately either.

"Is grandpa OK?"

"He'll be OK Missy. He just misses your mama too."

Ruth knew that Wally had blamed himself for Sara's death. Ruth had been against it, but Wally had encouraged her to join the guard after high school. It was a good way to pay for her education he said. Wally had joined the guard after high school also. But, it was after Vietnam was over and the most he had to do were occasional deployments to look for a missing person and once to help after a tornado had struck a nearby town. Other than that, he just did his one weekend a month and his drill during the summer. He had retired from the guard about a year before Sara had joined.

Sara had met a boy during basic training and she had married and divorced him within a year. The only good thing to come from the relationship had been Missy. When the war started they were worried that she would be deployed. Sara hadn't wanted to go but, she simply said. "This is what I trained for. I have to go. It is my obligation."

Ruth gave Missy a quick hug and set her back down in her chair.

"Try to eat your eggs Missy before they get cold." Missy just pushed the eggs around on her plate, she had only eaten a few bites.

"Missy come quick! I want to show you something!" Wally had come back into the kitchen. Missy ran to her grandpa. He scooped her up and they went out the back door. Ruth followed right behind wondering what was up.

Wally had taken Missy to the goat pasture directly behind the house. Chocolate was having her babies and they watched as two baby kids were born. Missy was transfixed as she watched the miracle of birth. It was over in minutes and as they watched Chocolate clean off her babies, Wally began to speak.

" I know you are sad about your Mama, baby girl. You don't understand why God would take her away from us. Well, you aren't alone in that, cause I don't understand it either. But, God has a plan and it is not for us to know, we just have to live it. We are all part of God's plan, even Chocolate and her babies there. It is called the "cycle of life." When we are born into this world, none of us knows how long or short we have. That is why we have to live each day and be the best person that we can be. We need to treat everyone kindly, because we never know what God's plan is for us or for them."

Missy put her head on her grandpa's shoulder. They stood silently for a few minutes watching Chocolate and her babies as the mama goat nudged them both to their feet. Each kid eventually stood on wobbly legs and found their way back to their mama's milk.

"Look, they're having breakfast Grandma!" said Missy excitedly.

"They sure are Missy. Maybe we should go in and finish ours." said Ruth with a smile.

"Grandma, Can we go in to see Mama today? I want to water her flowers."

"That's a good idea Missy! And maybe we can get some more grape jelly at the store for Grandpa too!"

Wally laughed as they walked back to the house. "This time don't feed it all to the birds!"

This story was originally part of an informal writing competition called the "Last Fiction Writer Standing". A picture would be posted and a short story of not less than 500 words needed to be written and posted online within 3 days. I posted the photo for this round. It was to be my last story for the competition, but it was also my favorite.

First published on June 22, 2007:

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Anonymous Becky said...

Love this story Mary! Can't wait to read it again, which I'm going to do right now!

March 14, 2010 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Thank you Becky! This contains lots of little parts of my life at the time it was written. I channeled it here.

March 14, 2010 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

This is great Mary! Love this story, I can see why it would be one of your favorites! So happy to see your work here. My Twitter friends are so talented it's unbelievable! Can't wait to see more! (In the meantime I'll just do what Becky did and re-read this!). Fantastic!!

March 15, 2010 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Rottlady of the Ozarks said...

Mary, I love this story! I remember reading it a long time ago over on NV, but it's really one of my favorites too!

March 16, 2010 at 6:30 PM  

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