Behind Hazel Eyes
The little boy ran up the driveway, the crisp autumn leaves crunching beneath his tiny feet. The warm sunlight shone through the naked amber trees, making the pathway glow red and orange with the fallen leave's hues. He scrambled up the stony stairs and stood in front of a large oak door. Reaching up eagerly to clasp the chunky brass doorknocker, the door swung open. He never had to knock; she always knew when he was at her door. The golden afternoon sunlight revealed to him the person he had been so excited to see. The child's hazel eyes lit up at the sight of her white hair and aging face.
She commented on how he had grown since she last saw him and bent over to let him clasp his small arms around her neck. Lucas could do nothing but smile at his grandmother as she led him into the kitchen, the smell of freshly baked bread teasing his senses. Placing himself on the high stool that overlooked all corners of the well-used kitchen, he watched as his grandmother bustled about the small area like a young mother despite her old age.
Soon they were sitting across from each other on the rosewood table in the middle of the kitchen with plates of hot bread and butter. They sat in silence and watched the glowing sun slowly recede behind the naked trees as they ate. As the room became darker and cooler, she stood up and rekindled the glowing coals of the bread oven. Its red and orange flames cast light throughout the kitchen and warmed their chilly hands. She began to talk to her raven haired grandson, her soft loving voice making him feel at peace. He loved watching and listening to his granny as the gentle light of the oven-fire played across her elderly face.
After a while, Lucas felt his eyelids become heavy with the need for sleep. His grandmother noticed and lit a lavender scented candle, leading the sleepy child up the winding staircase to a room on the left. She tucked him into the warm covers and kissed his forehead murmuring a good night to him. Lucas detected the mild scent of the slowly burning lavender candle and was compelled to smile in thanks to his grandmother if she was still there. However, slumber's power was now overwhelming and he succumbed to its control. Whether his grandmother was still there or not, he never knew.
It was the next fall when he saw her again. He ran up the familiar drive way that was once again covered in the glowing red and orange leaves that the aging ambers were shedding. He clambered up the stony stairs that were now covered with green moss. There he stood before the same oak door, the afternoon sun reflecting the eroded grains of the door. He reached for the rusty doorknocker and waited for the door to open; to once again be with her. No one answered. He waited a few moments more, all the while a cloud of worry had formed itself in his thoughts. Why didn't the door open? Where could she be? Still, nothing had happened and so Lucas lifted the doorknocker and rapped on the door thrice. The strange sound of the brass reverberated through him, sending a cold shiver down his spine.
He heard the distant sound of heels clicking from within the house and the door was thrown open. A woman in white stood before him. Panic seized him. Where was she? He had no idea who this strange woman in stark white was. There he stood in the doorway, confused, looking at this unfamiliar face; he wasn't sure how to communicate with her. Lucas signed to the lady in white, not knowing if she would understand. He noticed that her face held a look of sympathy mixed with sadness as she bid him to come into the house. The nurse led him silently up the stairs and stopped outside a room that Lucas did not recognise.
Lucas pushed the door open and entered the room alone. His confused eyes lit up at the sight of his grandmother; however, it dimmed as he saw her lying on the bed, frail and vulnerable. Moving as quickly as he could towards the bed, he scrabbled up the chair to see her. She looked very sickly with her green eyes closed, white hair plastered to her perspiring face. He felt his eyes prickle with tears as he saw how weak she was. Why was she like this? He felt a lone tear slide down his olive face but he wiped it away with his sleeve. Was she going to die?
She coughed softly and moaned feebly, her face screwing up in pain. Lucas was distressed; he did not understand why this was happening. She had been well the last time he saw her. He saw her ivory hand lying lifeless by her side and put his small hand in hers. No longer able to keep his emotions within, he let them surge out like a river in the form of tears and silent sobs. He felt something wet on his finger and looked down to see that one of his tears had landed on her hand, sliding down onto his own. He saw her open her heavy lidded eyes to look at him.
She murmured his name and tried to smile. His eyes pleaded to know what was wrong with her as he signed to her Granny? his fingers fumbling. She was trying to say something to him, her lips moving but no words were coming out. Lucas sniffled and leaned in to try and hear what she was trying to say. However, he heard nothing but a sigh. The young boy started and shook her shoulder gently with his free hand, trying to wake her up. With no response, he shook her shoulder with more energy and urgency, desperate to see some sign of life in her. She lay there in the bed, lifeless, the cold sunlight revealing that she was gone. He once again began to cry, his small shoulders shaking as he sobbed uncontrollably.
His throat was choked with his tears as despair overwhelmed him. Why had she gone? His beloved grandmother! Why her? She had disappeared from his life in an instant. It was as if someone had snuffed out the life in her, like a candle. He let the tears freely roll down his face, a feeling of hollowness replacing his despair. His chest felt very empty, almost as though something within him had been taken away the moment she had breathed her last.
The little boy's let his emotions pour out for a while, but slowly they began to lessen. He wiped his reddened eyes and tear stained face with his sleeve, sniffing all the while. Sitting by her side, he shifted, feeling his warm hand still clasped in hers.
His hazel eyes looked longingly at his grandmother, wanting to see those green eyes open one last time; to hear her gentle voice wash over him, making him feel at ease. He knew that when people died, they would not come back. Yet the longing for her to come back provoked more tears, they pricked at his already stinging eyes; but he would not allow any more to fall. Something within him would not allow him to cry. As he sat fighting the tears, he found that his emotions had returned to him. The hollowness he had experienced was numbed, but instead he was now very calm.
He felt gradual acceptance descend upon him. He now knew that she would not be coming back however hard Lucas wished it. The boy didn't know how long he had been sitting beside his grandmother, when he became aware of birds twittering outside the bedroom window.
The birds' calls sounded strangely mutilated when he listened harder. Abruptly they began to turn into shrieks and screams, the frequency so high that he felt that his eardrums would surely burst. He clamped his hands over his ears, squeezing his eyes shut. His head started to throb very hard, as if his head was being crushed. He started to whimper and curled up into a ball on the floor. He mentally cried out for his grandmother.
He felt someone distantly say his name, pulling him by the waist away from the ground. Lucas' head felt like it would split from all the screeching and screaming. He refused and squeezed his eyes shut even tighter. He heard his name being called out again, this time with more urgency and felt a warm hand on his cheek.
He opened his eyes to find himself in the dark breaking out with a cold sweat. Someone called his name, his eyes focusing on the person sitting by the side of his bed. He saw her green eyes clouded with worry and felt her warm hand on his cheek. Lucas slowly put his own hand over hers, testing the reality of her ivory hand. He heard her soft calming words that it was just a dream.His grandmother searched his eyes, constantly soothing him with her gentle tone. He felt the solidity of her hand on his cheek, his mind slowly registering.
He felt the intensity of his emotions well up in him as he realised that it had not been real. The cascade of tears started again as he clasped his arms around her neck and hugged her tight. He felt her arms come around him and enclose him, making him feel safe.