[Impromptu prompt] The face outside

Prompt: You’re awoken from your midnight sleep in your favorite chair to your dog barking wildly in the living room. Pulling her aside, you look out the window, only to see a face staring right back at you. Whose is it? Why are they there?

***

The last of the burning embers were still glowing in the fireplace when my golden retriever, Anna, began to bark wildly. I yawned, stretched, and padded to the kitchen, Anna following close behind. 

"Quiet, girl. It's the middle of the night," I said as I managed to convince Anna to step in her service vest. It had been years since I had an epileptic episode, but my doctor insisted on me getting a service dog anyway. I was vehemently opposed to the idea, afraid of the stigma. In the end, Anna chose me. 

I busied myself, gliding from room to room, all the while Anna barking more fervently each room I passed. At last I reached the front door, and she all but tackled me while leaping at the window. 

"Silly girl. We walk through the door. What's gotten into you these days, anyway?" 

I walked to the window that Anna was bounding around. It was a silly habit, one from childhood. I was terrified of the dark as a child, and to vanquish the monsters that lie dormant outside the front door I forced myself to look through a window first. I have long since grown up and learned that the only monsters that existed lie within me, but I kept the tradition alive. Just in case. 

As I pulled back the curtain to glance at what I expect to be pure blackness, I saw a ghostly looking face staring back at me. I shrieked and dropped the curtain, the drapes falling into place. Against my better judgment, I opened the front door.

"Grandma Martha! What are you doing out of your home?" I shouted at the shrinking old woman who used to be my beautiful grandmother. Time had a way of taking away the most prized traits. First it was her beauty, then it was her mind. Her sanity was a close third. 

The shriveled woman stared at me blankly, and a shiver ran through my spine. Though she didn't say a word aloud, her eyes spoke volumes. 

"Let's get you inside, Grammy," I said, softening my tone. 

Once inside, I wrapped a shawl around her body careful to not put too much pressure lest I break a bone. As I moved to leave to get some hot tea, she grabbed my wrists and looked deeply in my eyes, into my soul. 

"The path for you is winding," she whispered so softly I barely heard her. It had been years since she uttered a sound, much less put together an entire coherent sentence. 

"What do you mean, Grammy?" I asked, our gaze still connected.

"I know only of what the Great Spirit tells me."

"What is it telling you?" I didn't have the heart to tell her I moved far away from not only our Reservation but spirituality too; however, I caught her bait.

"You are the creator of your life. You hold your own power. Use it wisely, Shining Star."

I flinched and withdrew my hand, broke our contact. Hearing my tribal name after almost two decades of cutting off all contact with family brought me back to that place of powerlessness. I became a scared seven year old again.

"Let go of the past as I let go of this life and move onto the next," she said, begging with her eyes.

"Oh, Grammy. Lie down for a bit. I'll bring you some warm tea."

Once again, she took my hand in hers and rubbed it against her cheek like she did when I was a young girl. But I wasn't young anymore, and I could no longer fit in her lap and listen to her wonderful stories of the Ancients, and I had to move on. Like her. Unlike her, though, I was nobody special.

As if she had read my thoughts, she maneuvered her frail body close to me and whispered, "You'll never know how important you are; how can you be sure that the Sun will continue to rise once you're gone? It is time."

I retracted my hand once more and walked in the kitchen, Anna staying behind. I mulled over what she said. Letting go, moving on, leaving the past in the past. The burden was too large, and I was collapsing into my own self-created self-pity. I thought of the wrongs people committed against me, the reasons I left the Reservation and the only home I knew, why I was set on living this life alone without human companionship. One by one, I thought of the people, most of whom had passed on, and I silently forgave them.

I poured the tea in the china she had given me when I was of age, and I walked into the living room. The air had shifted, gotten lighter, and I knew that as soon as I saw Anna bowing her head on Grandma Martha's lap that she had let go too.  

The End

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