Jan 08

Kranz aus Gänseblümchen (Daisy Crown)

Note: this is a story I wrote a while ago, 5 months after my grandmother passed away. It's fictional, but some of the things mentioned (like the farm in Germany with a chicken coop and cherry trees, and the numerous things the main character says she misses) are all true. Also, I don't really know German, so I did use the internet for the title and the "Bist du bereit" in the story—I'm sorry in advance for any mistakes. 

The cherry orchard spread out before us, juniper green and crimson red. The sky was cloudless, sprawling, and a light breeze washed over the trees. There were green hills far off in the distance and they seemed to roll over in a noiseless sleep. 
  I imagined my grandmother standing next to me, clutching an empty wicker basket identical to the one I was holding. She looked down at me and smiled, her short brown hair rustling in the wind. 
  “Bist du bereit?” she asked in German. “Are you ready?” 
  I gave her a wide smile, running off into the abyss of the trees. She followed, her skirt and knitted sweater flying behind her. 
  There was a cherry tree in the middle of an orchard with a ladder leaning against it, but I ignored it and hoisted myself into the branches. My grandmother stopped at the foot of the tree and climbed up the ladder to pick the fruits. 
  When my basket was about to spill over the sides, I hopped down and dumped the cherries into another larger basket. Then I climbed back up the tree and continued picking. 
  I liked to think my grandmother was helping me—but the truth was, I was the only one filling up the big basket. The wind swept through my grandmother as easily as it swept through the tree’s leaves, but I pretended like I didn’t notice. 
  We talked about what we’d do when we got back to the house, maybe visit the chicken coop or play with my grandmother’s childhood dolls. She wanted to knit, but I wanted to explore the old bomb shelter in the hill near the wheat fields. 
  By the time I had filled most of the big basket, the sun was directly above us and baking us inside of our clothes. 
  “Let’s eat lunch,” my grandmother suggested, and helped me down the tree. We sat in the shade of the orchard and I ate my lunch of apples and crackers, sneaking a few cherries when my grandmother wasn’t looking.
  After I had finished, we went back to picking cherries until the sun was tugging at the horizon. 
  “Grandma?” I said as we walked back to the house, carrying the basket of cherries. She looked down at me, her almond-brown eyes sparkling in the evening light. “Can we sleep under the stars tonight?” She nodded, her lips turning up at the edges. 
  Finally, we reached the house, and I set down the cherry basket inside a little room near the back door. I carried blankets and pillows out of the house and to the hill where the bomb shelter was, next to a small clump of daisies. My grandmother followed me as I made multiple trips back to the house and to the hill again, silent in the night. 
  I had brought enough blankets to keep myself warm. I said good night to my family in the house, taking my grandmother’s transparent hand as we walked. 
  The light had completely faded, a quilt of stars bursting from the surface of the planet. The indigo night danced in the trees, balmy summer air flooding the German landscape. 
  I snuggled into the blankets, my grandmother beside me. 
  “Grandma,” I said. She glanced up from her hands, handing me a daisy crown she had made. I grinned, placing it on her head. “I miss…” 
  “Miss what?” she asked. 
  “I—nothing.” 
  She tilted her head, waiting for an answer. 
  “I miss the blankets and scarves you used to make, the socks and poncho and dolls and the clothes when I was younger. I miss your mac and cheese and your jam crepes with powdered sugar in the mornings. I miss how neat and tidy you always were, and your handwriting. I miss your glasses and rings and the necklaces you used to wear. I miss the grapes we always ate at your house. I miss you, Grandma.” 
  She squeezed my shaking hand and told me to go to sleep, that she would be there when I woke up. And I knew she would—in the frolicking birds, in the swaying trees, in the quiet depths of the night, in the yawning hours of the mornings.