Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Amelia" by Tim Tobin

Amelia. That was my grandmother’s name. It still is her name, I suppose. She visits me frequently, both in dreams and while I am awake. The visits began when I was a child. Of course, I was scared the first time she appeared. She had to be just a dream, I told myself. But with the soft touch of her hand, she reminded me of the stories she had read to me and of the lake and my father returning from WWII. She had to be my real grandmother.

She asked me to finish a job for her. The aneurism had taken her quickly, before she had a chance to return her library books. “Please do this for me:, she had asked me back then. “I cannot rest until they are back where they belong. It is the honest thing to do. If you forget”, she smiled at me, “I’ll come back and haunt you until you do.”

I promised her I would.

The books were on her nightstand and were overdue by a couple of weeks. The fine would be twenty-five cents. I shook some coins out of my piggy bank and headed to the door. But then I thought better of it and put the books in my room.

That night, Grandma was back, scolding me for not returning the books. So I made a deal with her. I’d take them back tomorrow if she would read me a story. Her eyes twinkled at my mischief, but she read me my story. Naturally, I did not return the books the next day.

That was fifty years ago. Grandma had been visiting me ever since. Tonight was different though. She took my ageing hands in hers and told me it was time. She had stalled long enough and if I did not take the books back soon, I might beat her home! I cried like a small child. She held me tight and hushed me. “It won’t be too long,” she told me. She said she loved me and began to shimmer. And like a summer breeze, Grandma was gone.

I dug the books out of an old box in the back of my closet. I chuckled when I thought of what the fine would be now. But I did take them back. Grandma was right. It was the honest thing to do.

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