- LOUISA SUMMERFIELD -
It was just like the dreams she had had as a child. She stood stalk still in the sea of black as men and women in raven colored robes inching their way glacially down an endless path away from her. Only this time the path ended, the men wore dark suits and the women dresses were cut to the knee. Vials varying in length and opacity hovered just with in reach of their tear stained faces, lightly fluttering with every breath like the lace gloved hands that rested but dared not touch the crisp white wicker chairs that surrounded her grandmothers grave.
Louisa was a strong yet sensitive young girl, she had always been the first to volunteer and the last to choose failure. Her grandmother Fern had taught her the importance of adaptability and forward motion, they would spend endless summers tending horses, raking leaves and baking pies on this very ranch, and in this moment it was like seeing a large cog in her internal clockwork standing still.
Louisa drew herself out of the crowd and began walking slowly out toward the field, hoping up on the bottom rung of the gated metal fence and looking out across the fenced in field, a full 160 acre quarter section. The fresh undeveloped land, dewy green grass springing up through the brown rolling hills, mares galloping happily unaware of the devastation that had invaded their world. To her immediate left stood the hidden treasure of this ranch, the spotless three story white Queen Anne Victorian country house with its majestic turrets and hand carved spindles was her grandmother pride and joy. In direct contrast across the field, beyond the thick garden of begonias and trellises overflowing with ivy, stood her Auntie Bert’s house. The modest yellow cottages hunter green roof was just peeking out above the dense foliage that lined the property and swooped up to frame the white picket gate. Louisa knew if she ran across the field and through that gate, and into the garden she would find the welcoming red door she most longed for - Auntie Bert was like no other Auntie on earth. His thick beard and burley physique stood in direct competition to what she had learned about other Aunties, but it was his endearing love and humor, his ability to make simple words magic and any space feel like home that would always make him simply Auntie Bert. Not human nor animal alike would ever question that. - and she wanted so badly to feel her Auntie's touch, to know that everything would be alright. But like the tree line that bordered the property which seemed unusually saddened as if they too knew a great spirit had left this world, she knew it would take him time to heal.
“Are you alright sweety?” a mans hand touched her back.
It was her dad. His gentle touch a welcome relief from the hoards of strangers and onlookers who still gathered around the burial plot long after the final dirt had been laid, as if they, like she, imagined she would turn away a stone and miraculously reappear. Louisa nodded her head and tried a courageous smile, then changed her mind and shook quietly while the tears began to whelm up yet again. “What am I going to do?” she coughed back the tears. “This is my home.”
“Hunny. You know the ranch isn't going anywhere, it is yours whenever you are ready for it." He rubbed his little girls back, though she was far from little any longer nearly sixteen and close to his own six feet. "You can come here anytime you want."
“But she won't be here, I don’t want it. I want my grandma. I want G.G.”
“You might not be able to see her, but you can't take her out of this place, she will always be here. In these crazy ass horses of hers, or in this beautiful house she loved, in your Auntie Bert, and mom and me!” He rubbed Louisa’s shoulder, wrapping his arms so tightly around her. “We all loved her so much Ouisa, but we have to be strong and let her be at peace. No matter how hard.” If it was possible to hug her closer he did and Louisa could feel her fathers tears as they seeped out on to her bare shoulder, rolling down the back of her neck. For a very long time, though her father knew his emotions should be focused on keeping her strong, they stood there silently crying together and starred off into the beauty that was G.G. Ferns legacy.
“What are you Summerfield’s doing hanging out all alone without me?” Louisa’s mother approached spreading her long willowy arms out around the two. Louisa smiled as her mom tousled her hair.
Robert, Louisa’s dad, did not even bother to wipe his eyes before he turned his head toward his wife and kissed her. They were constantly lathering each other with affection like this. “We are just recollecting the good stuff.”
“Like what?” Suzanne leaned in toward the fence facing her two greatest joys.
Robert looked around. “Like Starla.” he smiled. “She must have been the only animal on this ranch that had more gumption than G.G. herself.”
“Like how G.G. and I would repaint my room a new colour every year, and that miserable old cat would just stick his nose up, no matter what color I choose." She began to cry again thinking about Percival, her grandmother's cat. "And what about Percy whose going take care of him? He can’t be trusted not to get into everything.”
“Thats something we need to talk about Ouisa.” Suzanne wiped the tears out of her eyes. “G.G. didn’t want Percival to stay out here all by himself. He’s getting old and…”
“Well we are not putting him down.” Outraged
Shocked Suzanne stuttered.”Well… why would you? No hunny! NO!” Suzanne grabbed Louisa’s face. “She wanted him to come and stay with us. She knows how much he loves you. More than he ever loved me.”
“He must be so old.” She half smiled.
“You know what? Its amazing to think. That cat, these horses, those fields, spirit, nothing has changed. Only us!" Suzanne pondered.
"And to think it would ever out live her.” Robert added.
Louisa ducked down wiggling out of her parents grasp and ran off back to the house, her knee length black plaid silk dress tailed with the wind.
“Awe Shoot! I'm sorry Ouisa."
"No worries I’ll get her. You make sure the guests are all taken care of.” Suzanne kissed her husband and tried to chase after her fleeting daughter. “Thanks!”
"Suzanne!" She turned back around to her husband with her questioning doe eyes. "I love you!"
She smiled. "Forever and always!" and turned back to pursue her daughter as she rounded the corner toward the house.