This story is by Marie casper and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The soothing sounds brought a smile to her lips. As she lay there, a calmness and comfort came over her. The rhythmic tapping was an adult lullaby making sleep easy. It uncovered those childhood memories of falling to sleep in that attic room her grandmother arranged just for her. She couldn’t imagine a sound more comforting than the soft tapping of raindrops kissing a tin roof during a summer rain.
She was so tired. What had she done that was so exhausting? Oh, right. Mommy’s party. It seemed like it’s already lasted a lifetime but the guests are still here. She heard their hushed voices but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Adults never know when to leave a party. Kids’ parties are always two hours long. Enough was enough. Why don’t adults know when it’s enough for them?
She tried to block them out by focusing on the soft raindrops. She became aware these drops were a little harsher than she remembered. Usually it’s a soft ping when they hit but these seemed different somehow. She analyzed them, drop by drop. They really weren’t taps. As they hit the roof, the tin gave the drops a pitch. But not the usual soft thump; these were different somehow. The pitch this roof gave was unsettling.
She would drift off to sleep only to be jolted awake by them. She blamed it on those adults that wouldn’t leave. If they would just realize the party was over and leave, she would be able to get a peaceful sleep. Once sleep came, she had the most wonderful dreams.
She dreamed she was back in college. Everything about that time was a travel through bliss. Freshman year, she met a guy who was like no one else she had ever known or dated. She always dated the blonde surfer types and here was this guy that was dark and brooding. She was mesmerized by him and everything he did. She dreamed and schemed on how she could meet him but he was the one that made the first move. He had noticed her and was more direct. He didn’t dream or scheme, he simply demanded an introduction. They were engaged two years later and married after graduation.
She wondered how she got him. She thought he was the most sought after guy on campus and he chose her. Friends noticed that smile she had only for him. It shouted she loved him more than humanly possible. Everyone deserves to witness that smile from someone once in their lives. It’s a smile that only our soulmates can evoke. And there it was, one last time.
She looked up for him but he was with someone she didn’t know. The stranger was in a white jacket. She couldn’t believe the party servers were still here. The party should have been over hours ago. She soothed her anxiety by focusing on the raindrops. As she listened, she heard a definite rhythm. She remembered the raindrops being more random. Even though each drop was an individual, together they created an off-beat sonnet. These taps didn’t do that. They had a definite beat more precise than a metronome. And the pitch. It wasn’t a splattering ping dissolving into a thump. It was simply a ping. No, more like a beep. The sounds lulled her back to sleep. The warmth returned and she drifted peacefully off until the new day’s brightness brought her back.
The light was brighter than she remembered. After a summer rain, the sun would return brighter and clearer as if the rain had cleaned it up. This light was very clean. The warmth it provided was tranquilizing and exhilarating at the same time. Usually her mother would come in each morning but today must be a weekend because Daddy is here. He was always smiling and she just knew she was his favorite. All they did was play on weekends. She remembered when she told him she wanted a slide like they had in the park. He laughed and said you have a better slide than that. He sat down and stretched out his legs in front of him. “Now slide down”.
It was as if she slid away all her cares and woes. Was she peacefully happy or happily at peace? What did it matter? Whatever it was, these thoughts slid from her mind as fast as they entered. She began to realize some things just didn’t really matter. As she tried to focus on those things that did matter, she could only feel joy. It’s a joy that only children can bring. The satisfaction a parent feels when they realize it was a job well done. Her children were successful with children of their own. Then she got it. Parents brag about their children; what they do, where they went to school or and where they live. But deep down that isn’t what makes a parent happy. If your children are happy, you’re happy.
As she lay there thankful for her happiness, she unexplainably became anxious. The warm light was fading; the pain returning and the hushed sounds were stressful conversations. She must be having a bad dream this time because she doesn’t want to be here. What happened to Daddy and their day of play? Why am I dreaming of motherhood? I want to be with my Daddy.
As she called out for her Daddy she was comforted again by the warm light. She felt Daddy take her hand. He told he wanted to meet someone. You never knew him but he knew you. He watched over you and helped you whenever you needed it. This is Peter. He is your mother’s father. You would think her bad dream just evolved into a nightmare but the opposite was true. Her peace and joy expanded into another dimension.
She remembered how she wished she had a grandfather growing up but he had died when her mother was only eight years old. It was odd because her own father was killed in a car crash when she was only eight. And yet here they both were. It was all so clear. There were no thoughts of why. No thoughts of what did it all mean. She knew. Everything. She understood. Everything.
All those life’s memories were seeds. Seeds that were cultivated every time she recalled them. And now today she saw these flowers for what they were. Seeds of her memories that grew into incredible flowers of wisdom. Her daddy took one hand, her grandfather the other and together they walked home.
The room was in chaos. The nurses were checking tubes and monitors. The doctor rushed in pushing her husband and children aside. The tapping raindrops were screaming beeps, getting louder and more frequent. They melded together into a single shrill hum creating a flat line and then, just as suddenly, it was over.
She was peacefully happy and happy at peace.