THE GRAVE of Miss Ethyl May Cottage

It was the first time she opened her eyes, and as she looked out past the sand and the waves and then beyond to the horizon, everything she saw was new, and the brightness of it all caught her by surprise. Immediately the sparkle of sunlight glistening on the waves captured her attention, and she stood there to take it in just in the same way as any young girl would who was beautiful and proud and polished. She waited a second, and then intentionally took her first deep breath and as she did, it filled all of her with salty ocean air.

Happiness flooded every nook and cranny that was in her soul, but for those who know her today, well they could only IMAGINE the experience she had at that time nearly one hundred years ago. They took their own moment to glance out to the horizon, just as she had done that first time long ago, and they tried to capture what she must have seen over the years for themselves. As they listened intently to the lull of the surf re-telling her stories, they turned back to glance at her once again and observed what she looks like now, lackluster with worn skin, and they tried to comprehend the life she had led.

Her story unfolds some more, and images of pinafores and pantaloons pulled up high just above the knees are conjured up like pictures in the minds of all of those who would listen. As other 

young girls twirled parasols along the beach, sometimes cars would
pass her way and park just within sight of her, and she would watch 
as picnics were laid out on the sand on warm days of summer in front of her. As she unfurled the years in memories of what life was like when she was young, a wind catches a piece of her and she is back once more into the present day. Time has been a hunter and she can feel its ravages within her bones, and the creaks and whines of abuse have made her look haggard. She sags in all the wrong places and her strength is now diminished. She cannot remember the last time someone sat on her lap or caressed her.

This past summer she was beginning to realize that time had finally passed her by and the images of what she saw as she looked out onto the horizon were far different from those of her youth. She shook and could not believe that the pantaloons and parasols she could still remember had since been replaced with bronzer and something they called thongs. Somehow it had happened that no one even saw her anymore, it was like she was invisible. The laughter she heard coming up off the beach was like an echo and it didn't stop to say hello any longer it just ran past her. Most everyone noticed the new gal next door, but they thought of her as old and out of step with the times. Raindrop 
tears filled her now and nothing was comforting. Splinters and shards of glass replaced her once smooth heart.

One day, a few weeks back she heard the thunder of a truck coming up her driveway, and as she turned around she felt even weaker in her knees, as the vibration caused her to falter. A nice young man walked towards her and looked to see if there was anything he could do for her, but in the end they both knew it was nearly time. 

He patted her rough skin and looked out at the beach and beyond just like all of the others who came by had done. He was looking to see what she had seen for all these years and as he walked off leaving her alone, he turned back towards her for a second and under his breath he said  "well old girl" I'll see you tomorrow!

I stopped by myself 
to say good-bye to this great lady. I thought 
that maybe I'd still have some time and more days to wave in her direction each time I drove by her, but this time it seemed different and the thought crossed my mind that someday she would be gone. Turning the steering wheel of my car to the right I pulled up into her driveway. Quietly I opened the door and got out for Irecognized the familiarity of her frail body. She was now beaten down because the years have taken their toll on her and there was hardly any sparkle left in her soul. I took some pictures of her and tried to listen once more to her stories, and then tears trickled down my cheeks too, because I sensed it might be the last time I would see her.

As I drove by this morning I looked in her direction and foreboding the inevitable.....she was gone. I hadn't expected that they would take her on a rainy day so I hadn't gone by the day before. Maybe that was good, because to see her being carried off would have had left her without dignity. Quietly they took her, close-mouthed like a thief when no one was watching, and now all that remains.... is HER GRAVE.

"she looked out past the sand and waves and then beyond the 

"she cannot remember the last time someone sat on her lap"

"lackluster and worn skin"

"the laughter off the beach was like an echo and no longer stopped to say hello"

"Well old girl I'll see you tomorrow"

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Amanda Frankel said...

Absolutely amazing, as always. Donna has a gift of making you feel as though she is in your heart, your head, and speaks the best words of yours from your own very mouth. Beautifully written

Butternutsage said...

Thank you Amanda