It was the anniversary of my mother's death today. I was going to take off from work early and go back to where our home used to be to see her grave. She had asked to be buried in the grove. And my father had requested to lie next to her.
The grove simply became a family plot. A graveyard for the Desmonds. My uncle was there too. He hadn't requested any special thing. So I put him with mother and father.
It was actually surprising to me that they had all gotten the cough and I hadn't yet. After all, I had been working in the smoke and feathers for ten years now. When I was working with uncle, I was working in the smoke to keep the factories running. After uncle passed away, I went and lived in a factory under a lady who worked us hard in the fuzz and feathers for clothes and bedding. I should have been ill and dead long ago.
I walked up the criss cross path that was carved into the hill. It led into a small driveway and an old house that I barely remembered. It was falling apart at the foundation. The glass was broken from strong winds over many years. The flowers and bushes dead from no one caring for them.
I clutched the three roses in my hand, pricking myself.
I walked around the old house to the grove behind. To the beautiful meadow full of butterflies and creatures no one but my mother could see.
Even though the house and garden were old and failing, the grove was blooming with life.
My mother kept it alive. At least I like to think she does. There isn't any other unreasonable explanation that fits. She probably would have said that the fairies keep it living. But I stopped believing a long time ago. They were just children's stories.
I walked into the middle of the grove. It was the clearing where we used to have picnics and imagine which were the butterflies and which were the fairies.
I looked up. All butterflies to me.
The three plots were side by side. And there was room for more to fill in the space. I started with my uncle.
I placed the rose carefully in the flower slot. "Thanks for taking care of me, I'm still alive."
It was a joke now. I've lasted this long when none of the other children haven't. Sure, it was sad that the factories killed us, but I'm sure it meant I would be joining the three of them soon.
I didn't really know what to say for my father. I just kissed his rose and set it in place.
"Mom. You kept my childhood happy. Thanks. But I'm grown up now. I think I know now that you meant for me to believe in myself. That's what every parent tells their child right? I'll probably be joining you guys soon. But I'll stay safe. I don't have the cough yet." It was the oddest one sided conversation I've had with her yet. I placed the rose and stared at the name carved in stone for a while.
As the sun began to set, I turned to walk away.
Something caught my eye, frowning I turned back, cautious.
It was a full grown wolf. And he attacked.