Written for the Writer's Cramp Challenge, 8/21/19. A 500 word story.
| Candle-lit Memories
"I remember candles in the garden that August," my grandmother said, as I showed her the photograph. We were losing her more and more to dementia, and this was one of our few remaining ways of bringing her back.
Even this was no longer guaranteed to work. The photograph itself was becoming worn from so much handling.
"Will you tell me about it, Gran?" I asked. In truth, I had heard the story so many times I could have recited it alongside her, but I'd stay silent, let her delve back in to her past. Maybe that would help bring her back to the present for she hadn't had a clue who I was when I arrived.
She frowned at me. Would she question my use of the word 'Gran'? It had happened before. Once she had mistaken me for my mother, and there was a certain logic in that. We did look remarkably similar at the same age. Mostly now, though, she seemed to think of me as a stranger.
"That photograph was taken the first night I met my future husband," she said. "It was a warm night and we took advantage of the extra summer. Winter would not have been so very far away..." Her voice began to fade.
I'd give her a prod, ask her a question. I opened my mouth but before I spoke, she began again.
"He was visiting one of my friends, a relative of some sort... Oh, if only I could remember." She was becoming upset as she so often did when she fought to find memories that were no longer there.
"Tell me about the moment when your eyes met," I urged.
A dreamy look crossed her face. "Oh, it was love at first sight. An instant attraction. He sat next to me and we talked and talked in the garden that night. By the time the party ended and it was time to go home, I felt like I had known him forever."
She took my hand in her own, gripping as tightly as her arthritic fingers would allow. "We had to wait to get married. He was at university, studying law, you see. We wrote to each other all the time then... I wonder when he will come and take me home." She had tears in her eyes. Did she have any idea that he had been dead for the past ten years? I had reminded her once and she had been so distraught the staff had told me to leave.
"There were fireflies, weren't there? Tell me about the fireflies."
"Like little fairies they were! It was like they were attracted by the flames." My grandmother closed her eyes, took a deep breath then picked up the photograph from where it had fallen on to her lap.
I knew what was coming, even before she said the words. I tried to blink back the tears as she said once more: "I remember candles in the garden that August."