I hope you're enjoying all of the snippets from my young adult WIP Just Shut Up and Drive so far. This week, we're touching on an more emotional side of what Gramps wants to show young Wil.
For those of you wondering who 'she' was from last week...this will tell ya! ;D
“C’mon, son,” Gramps said, swatting Wil on the shoulder as he walked past him on the way to the door. “Stop standing there lookin’ so scornful or your face will stick that way.”
Wil breathed out sharply. “Do you think, maybe, you could give me an order without having to beat me at the same time? That would be appreciated. By the time this journey ends, I’m going to be bruised head-to-toe.”
“Well, if you didn’t daydream so much I wouldn’t have to keep shaking you awake.”
“If you didn’t talk so much, I wouldn’t have a need to daydream,” Wil said, closing the back door behind them.
Gramps grunted then opened the unlocked gate to the cemetery. “Grab a handful of those flowers there, will ya? Those are her favorites.”
Wil was about to ask who ‘she’ was again but decided to shut it. He knew he wasn’t going to get an answer from the old man anyway. He just assumed whoever it was, had to be a resident of the cemetery. Or his grandfather was finally losing it.
He bent over to pick the flowers, careful not to pull them up by the roots, and then slid through the gate. The cemetery was about the same size as two decent sized backyards found in the upper class areas back in Winnipeg. It didn’t look like a ‘rich man’s’ cemetery since most of the headstones were quite small or marked with simple nameplates or wooden crosses. It seemed to be well taken care of, though, judging by the lush green grass growing around each guest. A gorgeous willow tree stood in the farthest left corner of the fence, its branches hanging protectively over the nameplates around its base. Smaller trees sprouted out around the rest of the area, all with new leaf blossoms. One of the smallest trees standing beside a worn, faded wooden cross actually had a little bird’s nest in it. Wil shuddered with the profound realization that past lives rested there while new life still sprouted all around.
I think the old man is getting to me, he thought, shaking his head. He moved his eyes across the yard, stopping when he saw Gramps crouching down at a marker by the willow tree. He tip-toed over and around the path, silently apologizing to the names as he went, until he got to his grandfather.
“Here you go--” Wil started, then stopped when he saw the name:
LILY-MAE CARTER (HARPER)
Daughter, sister, wife, mother.
Rest In Eternal Peace
Gramps took the flowers and laid them in front of the small headstone. Then said, “See, Mommy? I told ya I’d bring him one day. This here is Wil. Wil, this is your Gran.”
Wil frowned, his mouth agape. “Gramps, I…why wouldn’t you have told me this was what we’re doing? It would have been nice to prepare myself.”
“Don’t you disrespect your Gran,” Gramps said, his eyes still on the headstone. “I just introduced you to a fine lady. Now mind your manners, get down here and say hello. She’s waiting.”
Gran died before Wil was born. But he’d heard many stories of her loving nature, wicked sense of humor and her endless generosity. She was also one of the strongest women, having fought breast cancer not once but twice during a time when women weren’t expected to live long after her diagnosis no matter how hard she fought. She did all of that while raising five kids and taking care of the house while Gramps worked. She was the rock in their family, and Gramps’ entire world. He still talked about her like she was still with them and always called her ‘Mommy’.
Wil knelt down next to Gramps, giving him a side-glance. Then he cleared his throat and said, “Hi, Gran. It’s nice to meet you.”
The two men sat, gazing at the headstone. A light breeze caught the branches of the willow tree, making one of the longer ones brush gently across Wil’s cheek. Goosebumps exploded all over his body. He bit his lower lip in a lame attempt to stop tears from forming. He heard the tiny squeaks of the baby birds calling their Mama from the next a few feet behind them.
“We’re just on a little road trip, Mommy,” Gramps continued, his voice barely above a whisper. “Gotta teach this boy a thing or two. Just like I had to with Craig. You remember those days, right? Trust me, this boy is all sass just like is dad. But he’s brains too so there’s some hope.” He coughed a weak laugh then said, “Well, we have to go for now. But you know I’ll see ya soon. I promise.”
With that, Gramps kissed the palm of his hand, pressed it to Gran’s name, adjusted the flowers for her then pulled himself up. He wiped his eyes on the back of his hand as he shuffled down the path back to the gate. Wil stood, never taking his eyes off the headstone. He’d never been to his parents’ gravesite and he didn’t want to. Somehow, the action of doing that meant he accepted their death and he didn’t yet. But for some reason, visiting Gran was…okay. It was oddly comforting. It actually filled a tiny part of him that felt empty before he got there. It was hard to put into words but it the feeling was similar to when his mom hugged him after getting hurt or being scared. He smiled, shoved his hands deep in his front pockets then followed Gramps.
They locked the gate and went back in the church to return the key. Gramps slid the key on top of the organ then started shuffling down the aisle to the front doors of the church. Wil stopped and said, “Wait a sec. I have to do something before we go.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you so much for coming back again this week. These characters are taking me on quite an interesting journey filled with some surprising twists and turns. I hope you come back again to share it with me. Be sure to visit the other samples HERE.
Until next week...