Maeve was sitting in one of the lawn chairs, a violet colored afghan wrapped around her legs and a winter coat buttoned up to her chin, even though the day was quite sunny. Kimberly from the past was sitting next to her, reading out loud from a book which had been on the New York Times best seller’s list that year. Maeve liked to stay current with what was popular. She appeared to be paying more attention to two children chasing each other in the grass, however.
Kimberly’s heart fluttered as she recognized Liam and McKenna, around six and a half and eight years old. As the oldest, Liam was obstinate and teased his sister to no end. He held something in his hands, insisting it was a tiny frog, but refused to show it to McKenna. Just as ornery as her brother, she ran around trying to catch him and drag his hands to where she could see. When she was unable to succeed, her laughter turned to vexing yells and whines. Although now older, Kimberly mused on how their relationship had not changed much over the years.
The spring sun was high and white, beating pleasantly on the children’s sun-starved skin. McKenna’s hair seemed to glow with its own orange-red fire. As soon as she was born, with her milky white skin and carrot-colored hair, Kimberly knew she was a true McKenna, like Maeve herself.
Maeve’s hair was no longer fiery red, or orange-red, or even brownish red. It was a beautiful crisp white. But her eyes were still as sparkly as ever.
The Kimberly in the chair noticed Maeve’s distracted attention and asked if the children were bothering her.
“No, dear. They do not bother me. They remind me of certain children from long ago…” she said with a wistful sigh.
The two women watched the children for a few moments, with Kimberly looking more and more irritated with the noise and commotion. She was about to get up and separate the two, who were still quarreling over the contents of Liam’s hands, when Maeve spoke again in a soft voice.
“Kimmie, dear, whatever happened to those old notebooks you used to write in?”
Kimberly, slightly startled, looked back at her grandmother. “You mean the ones from when I was a kid? The spiral bound ones? I haven’t seen those for years. I don’t know if I even kept them. Perhaps they’re in a box in the garage at mom’s house….Why do you ask?”
“Oh, nothing dear. It is just the tired remembrance of an old woman,” Maeve said thoughtfully. “Do you remember reading me the stories you used to write? Such lovely little stories. I was so proud of my little authoress.”
Kimberly squirmed a little in her chair.
“Yes, Grammy, I remember the stories. I used to want to be a writer someday, like my amazingly talented grandmother…”
Kimberly glanced up from where she was sitting and noticed the children had stopped arguing and were sitting in the grass inspecting the unfortunate frog which lay trapped under Liam’s fingers.
Thoughtfully, she continued. “I don’t really know what happened to that dream. I suppose that I just got busy and life took over.”
Kimberly was startled to feel a wrinkly warm hand clasp her own. She looked over quizzically into her grandmother’s eyes.
“Sometimes we have to be reminded of those dreams,” Maeve said softly. “Do you remember the story you wrote about the princess who had to choose between her lover and her crown?”
Kimberly shook her head, surprised that her grandmother could remember something so insignificant.
“You asked me how it should end. You could not decide if it should end with the traditional happily-ever-after, or if that ending was too unrealistic.”
Kimberly smiled, recognizing the questioning stubbornness from her youth. “So what did I end up going with? How did the story end?”
Maeve looked toward the children still sitting in the grass. “I don’t know,” she said. “I never heard the end of the story.”
“Oh, that’s a shame,” Kimberly chuckled. “It would be fun to try to find it and read what I wrote.”
Maeve was quiet for several minutes. Kimberly was just about ready to stand and corral them all into the home’s dining hall for lunch when her grandmother’s quavering voice made her stop.
“Sometimes, we have to write our own happily ever after….” she said.
Mist swirled into the yard and swallowed Siobhan and the Kimberly of the present into its fine vapors. More continued to roll in, the mist growing thicker and thicker until Kimberly was unable to see her hand in front of her face. All around her was a murky darkness which felt cold and all-consuming, seeming to sink into her bones. A shiver ran down Kimberly’s spine as she frantically started to shuffle around, trying to feel for Siobhan or anything solid. That day at her grandmother’s senior home had been one of the last few memories Kimberly had of Maeve sitting on her own and talking intelligibly. She had suffered a stroke about a month later, and remained bed-ridden and incoherent for five more months before finally being released from this life. Kimberly remembered the devastation she felt at losing her grandmother. Now, ten years later, the sharp pang of her departure was softened, yet Kimberly still longed for more time with the woman she loved so much. Standing in the dark, both blind and alone, reminded of what she had already lost, Kimberly wondered if her dream had turned into a nightmare. What sort of an aisling was this? Her grandmother was no longer alive. Her mentor, her hero, her friend was gone forever, and Kimberly’s aisling seemed to drift into the oblivion of this eternal, choking haze.
Just as Kimberly was about to succumb to the cold and darkness which seemed to grip more tightly around her, a delicate, gloved hand grasped her own. The mist gradually moved from black to gray, and in the haziness which surrounded her she could start to make out a subtle glowing light which was growing by the moment. The light seemed to fill her with warmth, chasing away the dampness and the dark. Finally Kimberly was encircled with the brightest light, and just when she thought the mist would at last clear the now familiar swooping sensation passed through her from head to toe. She found herself spinning, spinning, spinning….
Kimberly awoke with a start to the front door opening with a bang and her two grown kids laughing as they made their way into the house.
“Hey, Mom! I didn’t think you’d still be up!” Liam said, walking into the TV room.
McKenna followed after her brother and plopped noisily onto the couch next to Kimberly, issuing a huge sigh.
“Oh man, I’m beat!” she said dramatically, rolling her head to one side, then cuddling up next to her mother. “I think it’s time for bed…”
Brent woke groggily and sat up in the recliner. “I agree,” he said with a huge yawn, then looking at his watch he groaned. “It’s past time for bed.” Picking up the remote which was laying beside him, he clicked the television off, apparently not interested in the Miracle Blender infomercial which had been running across the screen.
“Happy New Year, Mom,” Liam said, leaning in for a kiss on Kimberly’s cheek, then repeated the gesture with his dad. McKenna did the same, with Kimberly mumbling, “Happy New Year, Honey.”
As Kimberly crawled sleepily into her bed that night, she had a strange nagging feeling that she had forgotten something. She attributed it to falling asleep on the couch and going to bed so late, and quickly fell back to sleep.
New Year’s Day dawned bright and beautiful. Brent was already up, cooking breakfast in the kitchen, causing the delightful aroma of waffles and sizzling sausages to waft up the stairs.
Kimberly awoke, feeling suprisingly refreshed and content. The smell of breakfast didn’t hurt, of course. Her taste buds seemed to wake up before her brain did. She slipped on her favorite fluffy robe and made her way downstairs to help with the food, passing through the dining room.
A reflection of light caught her attention out of the corner of her eye and she stopped in mid-stride. The sudden flash of memory washed over her like a flood….the mirror, the distorted room, the girl, Maeve….
Heart thudding painfully in her chest, Kimberly turned toward the mirror hanging on the wall. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. Her reflection in the antique glass was slightly wavy, making her face appear a little longer than reality. It was the same reflection she had seen in that mirror for the last forty years. What did she expect to find there? The girl, the mist, it was all a dream...right?
Later that afternoon Kimberly couldn’t shake the images in her mind of her grandmother Maeve. The dream had been so vivid, it had felt so real.
Finally she made her way up to the attic. It took a good fifteen minutes to move boxes and old pieces of furniture around enough to get to the dormer window in the front of the house. There under the window she found the old wooden crate she was looking for. Getting excited, she pulled out wadded up pieces of old newspaper, now yellow and faded with age. When the box was almost empty she could see the stained brown case. It was locked, and a tiny silver key was tied to the handle with a faded green ribbon.
The case was quite heavy, and Kimberly pulled it out of the crate carefully so as not to shift the contents. She set it on top of a battered dresser and untied the ribbon to release the key.
With trembling hands, Kimberly slid the tiny key into the lock and turned. The latch released with a satisfying click and Kimberly lifted the lid.
Nestled nicely inside the case was her grandmother’s typewriter. It was a portable Remington, made in the early 1940’s. The body was painted a dark army green, and the black glass keys still looked glossy and smooth.
This was the typewriter that her grandmother had written her stories on all those years ago. It was the typewriter on which she had compiled her book together. It was the typewriter which Kimberly had seen in her dream. Just like Kimberly’s old spiral bound notebooks, this had been the instrument which Maeve had used to pour her heart and soul into. It had been rained on with her tears and caressed with her loving fingers. Touching it, Kimberly felt a special connection with Maeve, rekindled and ready to explore. Her grandmother had left the machine to Kimberly in her will, but she had been unable to open it at the time. The pain of her loss was too plain and real. She had placed the crate in her attic and subsequently forgotten about it. Until now.
Kimberly did not immediately lift the typewriter from its attachment latch, however. There were two more items inside the case which caused Kimberly to pause and consider. Resting on top of the shining keyboard was a pair of ladies’ delicate gloves, made of the finest lace that Kimberly had ever seen. But she had seen these gloves before, just last night…
Just like Maeve, Kimberly had a story to write. It was the story of her heart, the depth of her soul, the embodiment of her dreams. It was her aisling, which had been hidden deep down inside her for so many years. Maeve had known about it, because Maeve had an aisling of her own.
Now it was up to Kimberly to write her own happily ever after and bring her aisling home.
Kimberly gingerly took the typewriter from its case, rolled a sheet of crisp paper onto the round rubber carriage, and began to write, the key strokes making a delightfully noisy clack.