Her little feet banged softly against the counter while the warmth from the kitchen seeped into her still growing bones. Fidgeting fingers found their way to biting teeth, tearing at the skin on the edges of her fingernails.
“Child, stop squirming so much. I know you aren’t learnin’ anything but still, there is peace in stillness,” the old woman at the stove told her.
Her grandmother’s hands were purple and she giggled a little. The beets looked slimy as they passed through her fingers after meeting their fate with the sharp knife. The gnarled fingers packed them into jars on the counter and soon the acrid smell of vinegar filled the air.
“Granny, it stinks in here,” the little girl complained. She continued tapping her heels against the worn wood. A swift glance from the elder woman though and she stopped.
“Can I go outside now, puhlease?”
Her granny shook her head,” No child, not today. I already told you why.”
She looked across the kitchen and out the window over the sink. It was sunny out and she saw a few birds flit across the sill. It didn’t look dangerous out. That’s what her granny had said. It was too dangerous for her to be outside today so she’d have to stay in and help her put up vegetables.
She thought back to earlier that morning when she’d been on her way out to play. The older woman had yelled at her from upstairs to not dare open the door. Her small hand hadn’t even touched the wrought iron door handle yet. As a matter of fact, she had been about to go out the back door that was tucked underneath the mudroom staircase that only led to the attic.
Puzzled at the admonishment, she’d backed away and walked towards the front room and sat down. For some reason she had wanted to cry. She didn’t know why. Her 7 year old self had never cried before about not being able to go out and play, much less been upset with her grandmother but suddenly she was furious and the tears that stung her eyes perplexed her more than anything.
“Control yourself,” came the order as her grandmother made her way down the last step into the foyer. She rounded the corner and had stood looking at her with pity and sadness. “I know you’re upset with me and it’s OK. It’s not a good day to romp around outside. Too dangerous. You can help me in the kitchen today.”
She’d watched as the older woman walked to the fireplace mantel and turned the picture of her mother towards the marbled wall, before moving onto the kitchen.
The rustling of pots and pans in the cupboards had stirred her from her confusion and she quietly walked to the mantel and stared at the picture frame. The backing worn and peeling.
“Marisol. Come please. Leave it be.”
Pushing the thoughts away, she hopped down to the wooden floor with a thud and wrapped her arms around her granny. “I love you. I didn’t mean to get mad at you when you didn’t let me go out. I didn’t really want to play anyway today,” she declared as bravely as she could.
Patting her head, her grandmother pried the young girl from her waist and looked down into deep brown eyes. Eyes that possessed far more knowledge then even the old woman could possibly know about. And that’s what scared her as she spoke to the innocent child before her.
“Mari, today will not be the last time you hate me. It will not be the last time you dream of committing heinous acts towards another person. That’s why it’s not for you to step outside of these walls today. What you felt this morning towards me will be the normal from here on out and all I can hope is that before my body gives out on us both, that I will be able help you learn to control a bit of that nature that is Marisol,” she explained, “I know you haven’t a clue as to what I’m talking about right now but you have to trust this wise old woman. Now run and grab some fresh table linens for nana like a good girl.”
As she made her way to the closet in the hall, she noticed that her mothers picture had been turned back around on the mantle. Stopping in the doorway of the living room, she quietly called for her gran at the same time a deep and haunting voice sprang forth from the back of the hall.
“Mari, sweet Mari. Why won’t you come and play?”