Three years have passed since the only parent Lillian has ever known passed away. She returns home to pick up the scattered pieces of her once peaceful life.
The two six string guitars strummed through the busted speakers distorting the sound. In her mind, "Dust in the Wind" was not a song that needed to be playing at the moment. It did not seem to fit her depressed, but yet enraged mood. Soon, the soulful lyrics of Kerry Livgren relaxed her frazzled nerves and she left herself relax into the worn gray cloth car seat. Lillian let her mind wander from the events of her bad work day.
"Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea. All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see," she sang softly in a breathy low voice.
Lillian's mind lolled to the music as the town buildings gave way to the darkened hills of the country. "Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wi…Holy shit!" she yelled gripping the steering wheel hard.
She slammed on her breaks, pushing them to the floor and turned the wheel hard to the right, barely missing the back end of the large GMC Sierra that careened from the right onto the highway cutting her off.
Gravel flew all across the road as he sped onto the road. It pinged against the roof of the car, and one large piece of gravel chipped the windshield.
Groceries slammed into the floor in the backseat. They created a cacophony of noise as glass bottles rattled against each other on the floor.
Lillian punched the horn at the other person and wishing that horn was her knocking him in the face. She pushed down the gas pedal and straightened the car back up onto the highway.
"Son of a bitch!" She screamed through the open driver's side window.
The person did not stop to see if she was okay and flipped their middle finger out through the open driver side window in front of her.
She pushed the dark brown hair out of her face, grumbling about having to pick up all those groceries when she got to her grandmother's house.
She took the turn off from highway 16 to highway 345 fifteen minutes outside of Pace Springs, Mississippi. Her legs were aching from being on them for eight hours and then the forty-five minute drive home in a seated position.
Thirty minutes later, Lillian pulled onto the gravel road that led to her grandmother's hundred acres of land. Nobody understood why she stayed so far from town. They did not understand, except for Lillian. It was complete and comfortable solitude out in the woods. The only company was the two of them and the sounds of the coyotes that howled at the moon at night.
The tree limbs rustled with the wind as she drove down the curved path. Leaves fell on the top of her gunmetal gray 1978 Dodge Dart. As Lillian pulled into the driveway beside the old mint green and white Chevrolet Bel-Air in the driveway, a chill ran up her spine. Something was off kilter. She looked at the old car. It had not been driven since her grandfather's death nearly six years before. She never knew why anyone just did not take the car. Grass was starting to grow around the back wheel that was flat. Lillian kept looking at the car. Something still did not feel right, and she looked out towards the woods past the car headlights to see if anything was out there.
Her instincts told her to get inside quick. The groceries could be gathered up later. She took her keys out of the ignition, and grabbed her purse from beside the seat. She opened the door, and walked to the front door of the small brown house as quick as she could. Once inside, she felt a little better. She took slow calculated breaths to get her heart under control.
"Grandma, I'm home!" She yelled from the door.
She set her keys and purse down on the old maple credenza in the hallway by the front door. Nobody answered her call. Lillian looked at her watch and it said seven pm right on the dot. Her grandmother would be cooking right now watching the small television that Lillian installed in her kitchen. She walked past the doorways past the cozy living room on the right and the dining room on the left. Both were dark. Lillian walked up the cement steps that led to the kitchen and the back of the house. The lights were on with the television and someone advertising Rogaine for Men. Before and after pictures flashed across the screen. Nobody was in the kitchen. Potatoes lay on the oak cutting board halfway peeled. An onion and a clove of garlic lay beside them with the cutting knife and potato peeler on the other side. She touched the top of the onion. It was room temperature.
"Grandma?" she called again.
She did not receive an answer. Another chill ran up her spine.
She walked to the door on the other side of the kitchen at the end of a row of faded cream white cabinets. Lillian knocked gently on the door making sure her grandmother was not already asleep. She knew she was still recovering from the cold she got the week before.
Lillian decided to leave her alone, and saw what she had going on in the kitchen. Nothing was fully prepared. Pork chops were still thawing on the counter by the black microwave. She put them back in the refrigerator with the garlic and onions. She put the potatoes in a bowl to be finished up later. She put the skillet of grease sitting on the stove on a back burner and placed everything else back on the spice rack and on the counter.
Ten minutes later, Lillian sat at the table in a pair of red flannel pajama bottoms, t-shirt and an old robe that used to belong to her brother. She had a turkey sandwich with all the trimmings, not including tomato, in front of her with the television on watching one of the new primetime shows called Bones. She still had that feeling in the back of her mind that something was not right. She got up quick and made sure the doors were securely bolted and all the windows were locked. She knew no one would try to break in, but it still made her feel safe. Lillian decided to check on her grandmother after she was done eating her snack. She took a bite of her sandwich watching the woman named Temperance pull an old wallet out of the pants pocket of a skeleton from the 1950's.
She ate the last bite, and dusted the crumbs from her hands onto the paper towel. She threw it in the trash can underneath the sink.
Lillian knocked on her grandmother's door once again calling her name. No one still answered. She opened the door, and the only light on was the bedside lamp on her grandmother's side. The blue and white double wedding ring quilt was turned down, but nobody was in the bed. She walked down the two cement steps that led down into the small room. Everything was left alone on the dresser and the bathroom door stood open beside it. She looked inside and the room was the same. Toilet on the right by the door, sink and mirror across from the door and the tub was on the left. Nothing had been moved or changed. She looked in the mirror that showed the lamp across the room. She gasped when she looked and saw her grandmother face down on the floor in the mirror.
She got to her as quick as she could and checked her over. Her skin was cold and clammy and her pulse was weak. She turned her grandmother over on her back. Her head lay in Lillian's lap. Lillian put the palm of her hand slightly over her grandmother's mouth and felt a slight jerky breathing.
"Grandma, wake up," she pleaded softly, "Please wake up."
She slapped her cheek gently trying to rouse her, but she did not move. Lillian grabbed a pillow from the bed and laid the older woman's head on it. She ran to the phone on the dresser across from the bed dialing 911.
"911, what's your emergency?" a female voice said.
"My grandma, she's ill. I don't know what happened," Lillian said frantically.
"Miss, calm down and tell me your name," she soothed.
She walked over to the other side of the bed, pulling the phone with her and draping the phone line to where she could have the phone near her. She laid the phone cradle beside her. She took a deep breath trying to calm her voice before she spoke.
"My name is Lillian Henderson."
"Can I have the address?" the operator asked.
"It. its 2465 County Road 436, Kingston," Lillian said quickly.
"Now tell me what happened," she said.
She put her free hand on her grandmother's, rubbing hers gently. She did not know what she was doing, but she sent a silent prayer heavenward that it would help.
"I don't know. I...I...just got home an hour ago. I came in to check on her and she was on the floor when I found her," she cried, "Get someone here quick."
"They're on their way ma'am. Just stay on the line with me. Is your grandmother breathing?" the woman asked.
"She is, but barely," Lillian answered.
"Ma'am, the ambulance is in route. They'll be there in five minutes," the woman said.
Lillian felt her grandmother's hand starting to jerk underneath hers. The jerking quickly moved from her, up her arm and to the rest of her body. Soon her grandmother was convulsing in the floor. She told the operator what was going on and was instructed to turn her on her side and away from nearby objects.
"Miss Henderson, the ambulance should be on your road now," the operator said.
"Thank you," Lillian breathed quickly into the phone.
She put the phone back on its cradle, and ran swiftly through her grandmother's room and to the front of the house. She heard the sirens and saw the red lights through the trees as they came around the last curve on the road. She walked out in the driveway beside her car, waving her arms. The ambulance stopped in front of her and the person behind the wheel got out first.
"Where is she?" he asked.
Lillian waved for them to follow them, and they ran through the small house to the back bedroom. Her grandmother was still lying on the floor. She was starting to turn a grayish tint. They placed her on the stretcher and buckled her to it. One of them was putting an IV needle into her arm. Lillian winced as she saw it go underneath the skin. The other put an oxygen mask over her face to help her breathe and placed the medical bag at the end of the stretcher. They moved the stretcher through the house, and she followed them outside as they placed her in the back of the ambulance. Lillian went to get in the back with her grandmother and the young man stopped her.
"Ma'am, you can't come with us. You'll have to follow us to the hospital," he said solemnly.
"Please let me come. I need to be with her," Lillian pleaded.
He looked down at the ground and took a deep breath.
"Ma'am, I can't," he said and quickly turned around.
He closed the doors, and slapped them making sure they were closed. Lillian watched as they turned and sped away down the gravel road. She stayed outside until she could not hear the sirens anymore. She ran inside, grabbing her keys, purse and anything she thought her grandmother might need. She looked at her watch. It was nearly nine at night.
Lillian walked outside, closing the door behind her. As she was locking the door, her cell phone rang from her purse. She thought about ignoring it, but instead pulled the silver phone out of the front pocket and put it to her ear.
"Hello?" she answered frantically.
"Hey Lily. How are you doing?" the other person asked.
She finished locking the door knob and the deadbolt on the door before answering. She walked towards the Dart.
"Lily, are you there?" they asked.
"I'm here. Michelle, I really can't talk right now. Something's happened," she said trying to get off the phone.
"I know. We just heard on the scanner," Michelle said, "is everything alright?"
Lillian closed the door of the car after she got in, putting the keys in the ignition with her right hand and holding the phone with her left. She pulled the seatbelt around her and cranked up the car.
"No, it's not. I don't know what to do, Michelle," she said as she pulled the car in reverse.
She sped out of the driveway and up the gravel path to the main road. A chill ran down her spine. She did not know what was going on. She could hear frantic voices of other people in the background trying to talk at once. She heard Michelle scream for all of them to shut their mouths.
"Lily, we'll be at the hospital when you get there," Michelle said.
Lillian tried to say no, but heard the other line click and her phone beep to say the call had ended. There was no use in trying to persuade her not to come now. The ambulance was already further down the road then her, and Lillian knew it was impossible for her to catch up with them.