Hey guys! So this is the second part of chapter one, and it's back in reality (sorry if it's not as interesting as part 1). Thanks for reading!
I sat bolt upright with a gasp, shaking and breathing heavily. There was cold sweat standing out on my forehead and my joints felt stiff with fear. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply. Another nightmare, I thought. That’s all. Nothing to be frightened about. It was the fifth time I’d had a dream about that girl, but I’d never dreamed about the snake before. My dreams were becoming more and more vivid, every one worse than the last. I sat up slowly and threw the blanket off of my body before burying my face in my hands, glancing down at my limp, spindly little legs. At least I can walk and run in my dreams… I thought, dragging myself into the wheelchair by my bed.
I wheeled over to my window and pulled aside the curtains, letting the first rays of sunshine splash across my floor. I watched the finches and robins snacking on the feeder next to my window as I thought about the dream I had. My thoughts were still a little jumbled, but the same three questions kept surfacing as I watched the little birds chirping happily over the feeder. Why do I always dream of that girl? Why are my nightmares getting worse? What did that tattoo mean?
“Good morning, Isabelle!” my grandmother trilled happily, interrupting my thoughts as she walked over to where I sat.
The delicious scent of blueberry pancakes and sausages wafted in through the open door, making my mouth water.
“Good morning Memaw,” I said, turning my chair slightly towards her.
She smiled at me, the wrinkles around her bright green eyes standing out as she did.
“I see the birds like your feeder.”
She loved birds, so I had given her that feeder for her birthday two months ago. We both took a moment to watch them fight and chirp over it. There was a blue jay warbling loudly and chasing away all the smaller birds. I tapped on the window smartly with my knuckles, but he just looked back at me, mildly annoyed.
“Why don’t we go get some breakfast before it gets cold?” Memaw said at last.
I nodded and she slowly wheeled me to the tiny kitchen. She had already neatly set three places at the table, with each plate stacked high with pancakes, eggs, and sausage.
“My god Memaw, how much food did you make?” I murmured, staring at the three huge pancakes, mountain of eggs and little mound of sausage covering my plate.
“Just hush and eat,” she laughed, rolling her eyes. “We’ve got a lot of work to do today, so expect you to eat that.”
Not willing to argue with her so early in the morning, I simply bowed my head and began cutting my monstrous blueberry pancakes. Gramps suddenly stumbled in, bleary eyed and disheveled. He wandered over to the coffee pot, poured a cup, and sipped it slowly, a look of contentment crossing his face.
“Come sit and eat. I made plenty,” Memaw urged him.
“I’m fine with my coffee,” Gramps winked at her.
“I mean it, Hal.”
With an overly dramatic sigh, he sat down at the table, giving her a little peck on the cheek as he did. They began to chat happily, leaving me to brood over my thoughts quietly. I knew I shouldn’t be thinking about it so much, but I couldn’t get over how real my dream was. It probably didn’t mean anything, I told myself. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it did mean something. I continued to angrily pick at my food, still conflicted.
“Isabelle, please eat something,” Memaw sighed, snapping me out of my thoughts once again.
I looked up, realizing that they must have been staring at me for a while now.
“I’m sorry. I’m just not that hungry.” I smiled sheepishly at them, fidgeting uncomfortably.
“We’re harvesting soon Belle, we’ve got a lot to do,” Gramps said sternly. He was the only one who ever called me Belle. “Just eat half a pancake and we’ll call it good.”
I took a small bite of pancake, which was delicious to say the least, to appease them, but I really had lost my appetite.
“That’s it, just a little more.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m eating, I’m eating.”
“Sweetheart, I’m just worried. You’re so skinny-“
“I’m almost eighteen, I think I can handle feeding myself,” I snapped angrily, feeling like a child.
“Isabelle, we’re just looking out for you,” Memaw murmured gently.
I felt my face flush with indignity. I took a deep breath, fighting the strange urge I had to hit something.
“I’m just saying that I think I handle it.”
“Just eat!” she sighed, frustrated. “Don’t fight me on everything.”
“Sorry,” I whispered back.
I wolfed down some pancake and egg before pushing myself backwards.
“Excuse me.” Throwing my napkin down, I quickly wheeled down the hall to my room. They didn’t try to stop me.
I shut the door quickly and leaned back in my chair, wrapping my arms around myself, breathing deeply through my nose. I was furious, over something that normally wouldn’t make me more than mildly annoyed. My anger was irrational and sudden, but the more I tried to calm down the worse it got. I heard them talking in the kitchen, murmuring in hushed voices over the clatter of dishes. It made my blood boil knowing that they were talking about me and my strange outburst.
I rolled over to my bed and hoisted myself out of my chair, turning onto my side and closing my eyes. Being treated like a kid really had me seething. I had already graduated from high school and I was going to California College for the Arts next year, yet my grandmother continued to baby me. I must have dozed off, because suddenly a light knock on my door woke me up. I was still pretty upset, but I called out, “Come in.”
I heard him walk over and felt him sit down next to me, making my little twin bed creak with the extra weight.
Neither of us said anything for a moment. I slowly turned over to face him, my anger beginning to melt away. He looked around the room at the sketches and photographs I plastered all over the walls.
“I like that one,” he said softly, pointing to one on the wall. It was one of my favorites too, one of the few that I actually bothered to shade in. It was a purple hummingbird mid-flight, so real that it seemed to almost breathe.
I just nodded awkwardly, studying the drawing for a minute. Gramps soon broke the silence by coughing several times.
“I’ll be up in a second,” I assured him. “I know we’ve got work to do. I must just be stressed.”
He nodded. “Everybody gets angry at some point. That’s not why I came in here.”
I propped myself up on one elbow. He smiled at me warmly, his blue eyes sparkling. He held his fist out.
“Close your eyes and hold out your hand.”
I obeyed, and I felt something smooth and delicate drop into it. Opening my eyes, I saw a small, shiny red gemstone on a long silver chain. It was lovely, especially when the stone caught the sunlight, causing it to reflect ruby shadows along my walls.
“Wh-where did you get this?” I asked, getting choked up at such a precious gift.
“It was your mother’s,” he said sadly. I saw the tears standing in his eyes.
“It was her favorite necklace. It comforted her when she had nightmares.”
“She had them too?” I whispered.
“Yes.” He gestured for me to sit up. He clasped the delicate chain around my neck. “You look just like her when you wear that.”
Normally, I’d be annoyed to hear that because all of my relatives tell me I look like her, but with Gramps, I understand it’s a compliment. She died a few days after I was born, so I never knew her. We never learned who the father was either, so I went to live with my grandparents. I held it in the light again to admire it.
“What sort of stone is it? Is it a ruby or a garment?” It was almost cloudy looking, a deep blood red.
“Neither,” he shrugged. “I’m not sure exactly what it is.”
I smiled and wrapped my arms around his neck.
“Thank you anyways. It’s beautiful.”
“Just an early birthday present,” he responded, hugging me tightly. He pulled away but kept his hands on my shoulders. “Meet me outside in ten minutes and we’ll get started on the chores.”
“Sure,” I said as he shut the door behind him.
I held the necklace in my hand, feeling like I finally had a tangible connection to my mother.