Home > Falling Fast(3)

Falling Fast(3)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

“Enough of this sad crap. I say we finish off this bottle of wine then open the other one I have in the fridge.”

“Sounds good to me,” I agree as she gets up, going to the kitchen and grabbing another glass. Coming back to the couch a second later, she tops off my glass and fills hers up.

“Now, let’s cheers.” She holds her glass up and I do the same. “Here’s to finding out your grandma is alive, new adventures, and hopefully hot cowboys.”

Clinking my glass against hers, I laugh then take a sip of wine, hoping that when I finally make it to Tennessee, everything will be okay.

~**~

As I pull onto the highway that will lead me to Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls, I take in my surroundings. It’s beautiful here with its sprawling farms set back off the highway, rolling hills covered in trees, and a beautiful lake I’m sure is full of life during the summer months. It’s the complete opposite of the city I’ve lived in my entire life. Everything is open and clean, and judging by the amount of people who have waved at me in my Jeep, it’s friendly here. As I reach the exit for Ruby Falls, I dial Nina’s number. I talked to her yesterday, and then again this morning after I left Chicago to tell her I was on my way and should be there by the afternoon, since the drive is only about ten hours. I could tell she was relieved I was actually keeping my word and coming. When I asked her about talking to my grandmother directly, she told me that she would try to get her on the phone, but it hasn’t happened, which worried me more than anything. I’m not worried like Natasha that I’m being catfished, but I am concerned about my grandmother’s state of mind. I know if she were thinking clearly that she would want to speak to me, especially after so many years.

“Gia,” Nina greets as soon as she answers.

“I just exited the highway. I shouldn’t be much longer.”

“Ned, she’s almost here,” she shouts, and the sound bounces through my car.

“Well tell her to get off her phone. Don’t she know it’s illegal to drive while on your cell phone?” he gripes, and I smile.

“I’m on my car’s Bluetooth,” I tell Nina, and then listen to her relay that message to her husband, who grumbles something about technology. Laughing, I stop at the red light and turn on my blinker. “My GPS says I’ll be there in less than ten minutes.”

“We’ll see you when you get here, darlin’. Just drive safe.”

“See you soon.” I hang up then turn left and drive through a tiny town with just a few small stores, a bank, and a bar. As soon as I make it to the street my grandmother’s house is on, my heart starts to beat hard. Even though I have never been here before, I’ve seen enough pictures of my mother’s childhood home to know exactly which one it is. Parking in the driveway, I shut down my car. The house is small, smaller than it seemed in pictures I saw when I was a little girl, and time has taken its toll on it. The yellow paint on the siding is peeling away, along with the white borders around each of the windows. The grass isn’t overgrown, but the flowerbeds are in need of weeding, and the trees surrounding the house need to be cut back, since they look like they are about to go through the roof.

Looking in the rearview mirror at my refection, I sigh. I’m a mess, but after driving all day, it’s not surprising. With nothing at hand to do anything about my appearance right now, I open the door and jump down, hearing what sounds like a screen door squeak. Slamming the door to my Jeep closed, my breath catches the second I see the woman standing on the front porch wearing a baggy, colorful knitted sweater and jeans. Her long salt-and-pepper hair is still thick and shiny, hanging down around her shoulders, and I instantly recognize the high cheekbones and beautiful copper-toned skin. She’s beautiful, and I have no doubt that if my mom were still alive, she would look just like her in a few years.

“Gabriella,” she whispers, studying me, and pain slices through me. Gabriella was my mom. I don’t think I look anything like the beauty who was my mother, but my dad used to tell me all the time that I did.

“Genevria, honey, that’s Gia,” an older woman, who I’m guessing is Nina, says, helping my grandmother down the steps with her hand wrapped around her sweater-covered elbow. “You remember her, don’t you?” she asks, and I can see it in my grandmother’s eyes that she is trying to remember but it’s not clicking. “Gia is Gabriella’s daughter—your granddaughter.”

“Gia,” Grandma says getting closer, and then a smile lights up her face. “Gia, you grew up.” She holds out her open arms toward me, and my heart clenches in my chest. Closing the distance between us, I wrap my arms around her frail body and bury my face in the crook of her neck.

“I missed you, Grandma,” I choke out as she rubs my back. Leaning back to look at her, I smile, tucking a piece of her long hair behind her ear. “You’re still beautiful,” I whisper, and her eyes fill with warmth.

“So are you. You look just like your mom,” she says thoughtfully before letting me go.

Turning to face the couple standing next to us, I stick out my hand. “Nina?” I prompt, and she laughs, pulling me in for a warm, welcoming hug.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she says before releasing me and jerking her thumb over her shoulder. “This is Ned.”

“Hi, Ned.” I smile, and he smiles back.

“Can you stay for lunch, or will your dad be expecting you home soon?” Grandma asks, and I frown then look at Nina, but she speaks before I can.

“Gia is going to be staying with you for a while, Genevria. Isn’t that nice?”

“Really?” Grandma asks, looking at me.

“Really.” I take her hand in mine. “I hope that’s okay.”

“Of course it is.” She grins. “Come on inside.” She takes my hand and turns me back toward the house.

With her hand in mine, I help her up two steps then walk into the house behind her. The inside is in need of just as much repair as it is out. Even though it’s clean the walls need to be painted and the floors need to be replaced, and when we walk into the kitchen, my gut twists. There is food, pots, pans, and bowls all over the place. It looks like a child was left alone in the kitchen and they tried to cook.

“Genevria was making dinner when we came to tell her you were almost here,” Nina informs me, taking a bowl of something that looks like pancake batter to the sink. “Normally she eats with us, but today she decided she was going to make herself dinner.”

“Well, I have plenty I can cook for all of us now,” Grandma says, and I look around.

“How about we go out to eat instead?” I suggest, hoping she will say yes. The place is a mess, and no one will be cooking anything until it’s cleaned up.

“That’s a wonderful idea, isn’t it?” Nina asks Grandma, who looks like she’s about to protest.

“Well, I suppose so, but don’t throw any of this food out. We can have it tomorrow,” she tells us, moving around the kitchen, picking up the things she left out, and taking them to the fridge. She places everything inside, including the pans and things that were made in them.

“She’s gotten worse,” Ned voices softly from beside me, and I tip my head back to look up at him. “At first, it was her just forgetting small things here and there, but she’s steadily gotten worse over the last couple of years. Her doctor diagnosed her with dementia, but she didn’t want to believe it.”

“She knows?”

“She does. I don’t think she understands what it means, but she knows. We had been coping with it, but a week ago, she wandered off when Nina took her to the grocery store. We couldn’t find her anywhere. The whole town had to be called in to help with the search. An officer finally found her down by the lake. When they asked her where she was, she couldn’t remember. She couldn’t even give him her address.”

“Oh, God.” I cover my mouth with my hand, watching my grandma looking a little lost as she follows Nina around the kitchen. “I’m so sorry. I wish I had known earlier. ”

“It’s okay. I’m just glad I was able to track you down. Your grandma told Nina years ago about your dad dying and her losing touch with you, but I hoped if I could find you that you’d want some kind of say in what happens next.”

   
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