This idea came to me, jumping out of the back of my mind fully formed as an entire story. I know I should be working on my revisions, but that is not where my head is right now.
Very different than my usual pieces (also very rough!), I’m posting just the first part here.
Maybe that’ll quiet it down.
Jayna made her first necklace when she was eleven years old. Aunt Cissy and Aunt Maddie sat her down in Grandma’s living room with a box of old buttons and some embroidery floss while they ‘discussed’ things in the kitchen. Jayna carefully perched on the edge of the vinyl clad couch, her starched skirt crinkling in protest as it met the unyielding fabric. Behind her, though the cracked open window she could hear the creak of rockers. Mama was smart, she was on the porch with Grandpa, keeping him company and out of the way of her sisters. Herself too.
The soft scent of lilacs from the front yard drifted over her as she opened the box. Jayna had played with the buttons many times. Grandma told her stories for so many of them. The scuffed brass button with the smashed lion, that was from a uniform Grandma’s father had worn in the war. With Grandma now gone, the stories were Jayna’s to keep. She pulled out the special ones, spreading the multi-color assortment on her lap. They made a bright spot on this bleak day.
No matter how sick Grandma was, and she had been very sick for a while, her death stood as a shock to all of them. Though, to Jayna, it seemed that once they finally convinced her to the doctor and the word cancer started to be whispered in the corners, the end hurtled toward them even faster. Everyone was at a loss, unable to grasp she really was gone. Her aunts in the kitchen, trying to be practical and help Grandpa, broke into frequent sobs.
Jayna arranged the buttons to a pattern she found pleasing. She did not want to string them and hide their beautiful faces, so she started to tie them together, interconnecting them like a web.
Outside her mother finally spoke. “Reckon you’ll finally come visit us for a while.”
A soft chortle from Grandpa. Jayna had heard often enough that Grandma and Grandpa never visited them in the city because Grandma didn’t like to be far from home. So she and Mama travelled down to visit them the first weekend of the month like clock work. Jayna didn’t remember a time she hadn’t known they’d be heading down to visit. “Reckon I will.”
“We have the extra room all set up. Your own entry, own bath. Even your own stove, not that I expect you to do your own cooking. Welcome to come and stay as long as you want.”
“Might be good to go for a while.”
“Have Harvey stay here a spell, until you decide it’s time to come back.” Harvey was Aunt Cissy’s oldest, newly married and steadily employed, which couldn’t be said about all her cousins.
“Buck won’t like that.” Buck was Maddie’s only son, still foot loose and fancy free, or at least that’s what Mama said. Jayna didn’t quite understand what that meant, although Buck constantly changed jobs and girlfriends.
“No, he won’t. But by the time he’s ready to settle down, Ms. Mularni will be out of the other half of the house and he’ll have that. But lord, don’t tell him or he’ll rush her out of there.”
Another soft chuckle from Grandpa. Jayna held up her creation, the buttons made a pretty necklace. Great grandfather’s lion button was in the middle and the rest of the family’s buttons spread out from there. Aunt Maddie’s button from her first baby bonnet was the last on one side while a button from Jayna’s mother’s knit bootie was on the other.
Not one to wear today, or ever perhaps, but it was beautiful and not just because of the memories.
Several soft creaks later, “What about you and Jayna, that leaves nothing for you.”
“We’ll have you, the best end of the deal.”