Short Story By: Shadow Summit
Her hands were wrinkled and dry as they twisted a fine red yarn around a willow hoop. Her dark eyes were filled with memories as she crafted the object in her hands. Her warm brown skin on her cheeks were loose and folded however a smile played at her mouth. Others moved around her in the room of elderly men and women, but the woman seemed oblivious to it all. The woman was living her memories once again.
Her thoughts drifted to long days in the summer sun, sitting by her mother as she taught her how to make dreamcatchers. She’d watched her mother twist the red yarn so expertly that she doubted she’d ever be able to be as good.
“It’s not just about being good at the art, Aki, but also about the feelings you put into making it,” her mother said affectionately.
“How can you put feelings in it, mama? You can’t see feelings,” she’d replied with a confused tone.
Her mother chuckled but her sparkling eyes turned to look directly in her own.
“You can’t see feelings, but you can feel them, can’t you?” her mother said. “When you love someone and you put effort into making something for them, even if it is food, the feelings flow into the objects. It makes it so much more special for the person receiving it. Feelings wish for health, happiness and protection for that loved one.”
Aki smiled as she continued to create the dreamcatcher in her hands. As a child, she hadn’t completely understood what her mother had meant that day, however after getting married, having five children of her own and twelve grandchildren, she’d finally understood.
Aki sighed quietly and winced as a sharp pain shot through her chest momentarily. She rolled her shoulders and then lifted the dreamcatcher up to the light of the window she was seated next to. Aki’s eyes lovingly traced the lines of the hoop and the spider web pattern. It would be the perfect gift for the latest addition to the family, a baby boy.
Aki had continued to create dreamcatchers for every child in the family, though her two daughters didn’t seem to want to share the tradition. She supposed that she hadn’t done as good a job as her own mother at handing down the gift.
Upon completing the project, Aki let her eyes roam although her long distance eyesight was yet another thing that had deteriorated over the years. Several of her neighbours, who were also sitting at the window, were just staring blankly across the carpark that made for a very boring view. Several others played cards and sipped their third cups of tea for the morning. Aki rubbed her chest again at another spurt of pain made its path through her chest, which wasn’t unusual although they weren’t usually this close together.
Aki glanced to the door of the room as a movement caught her eye. She could see, surprisingly clearly, a young man his strong form leaning against the door frame. His black hair was long and left to fall around his tanned face lazily. The young man was looking directly at her, his brown eyes the colour of a dark-oak.
Perhaps he was the grandson of one of the other residents of the nursing home, he may be visiting since it was the weekend. Aki couldn’t help but appreciate the young man’s thoughtfulness, if that were the case. Nowadays it seemed the younger generation didn’t respect or take the time to visit the older generations. It seemed that once a person was put into a nursing home, their family didn’t need to bother visiting as often. Was it that grandparents and parents were just a handful when they couldn’t walk or function as they used to?
Aki noticed the young man still stood at the door, his gaze moving on to the dreamcatcher in her hands. Aki lifted it from where she’d let it rest in her lap and smiled over at him, waving him over. The young man looked slightly surprised by her actions for some reason but he pushed off the door frame and approached. He wore a loose sleeveless jacket, which was slightly unzipped and Aki noticed the edge of a tattoo on his chest.
“Look familiar?” the young man asked, moving the jacket aside so she could see the tattoo properly.
Aki was confused by his words, but as he moved the jacket it revealed a dreamcatcher tattoo. It look almost 3D on the skin and Aki smiled and nodded.
“A dreamcatcher,” Aki said. “Like the ones I make.”
The young man shook his head slightly and Aki frowned up at him. It most definitely was a dreamcatcher, she wasn’t that blind yet!
“Not just like the ones you make…” the young man said pausing. “It is one of your dreamcatchers. Take a closer look at it. Does it look familiar?”
Aki gazed over the wooden frame and the pattern inside of it. There were several feathers and beads hanging from the hoop their colours subtle but Aki’s eyes finally saw what the man wanted her to notice. It wasn’t just one of the dreamcatchers she’d made, it was the one she’d given her first son.
Tears filled her eyes and she reached up to brush them away. Her heart ached but not with a physical pain this time, but an emotional one that had been there for years.
“I made that for my son,” she explained to the young man. “He passed away when he was thirteen, it was all very sudden. We buried that dreamcatcher with him, I always said that it would keep him safe in the land over yonder.”
“I know,” the young man, stated quietly.
Aki looked up at the young man’s face and wondered how this man had managed to get an exact replica of the dreamcatcher tattooed on his chest.
“Who are you?” Aki asked, curiously.
“This body isn’t as it was when we last saw each other,” the young man stated, smiling warmly. “However, they say a mother never forgets her son.”
Aki sat in shock, but managed to stay calm for a moment and look more closely at the man. The more she observed the more her heart pounded in her chest. The same eyes, the same mole on his right cheek, and the same scar on his right hand where he had cut himself when he was four. It was suddenly so clear that he was her first son that she didn’t know what to say.
“How?” Aki asked breathlessly.
“I’ve been sent to get you,” her son answered. “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”
Aki gazed around the nursing home and noticed that no-one was acknowledging their conversation or the presence of her son in the room. The air felt different, she could see everything clearly and she breathed out slowly. She looked back up at her son and she gave a bright smile. Everything suddenly felt peaceful and she knew what was happening. It was her time to pass over to the land over yonder to where her mama, husband and son were.
“Look at where your heart is,” her son instructed softly.
Aki gazed down at her chest and noticed a dreamcatcher appear as a tattoo. She traced a finger over the lines and knew what it was immediately.
“The dreamcatcher my mother game me,” Aki stated.
“They help protect us in this world. It’s the gift of a mother to her children, and mine has served me well for many endless days,” her son explained.
“My mama’s will surely be the same,” Aki said, looking up at him once again.
“Welcome home, mama,” he said in a warm tone.
His hand reached out to enclose over her own, the warmth of his touch seemed to release her from the pain of the many years. Her skin became smooth and the wrinkles all seemed to disappeared except for several lines as her pearl teeth revealed a wide smile. Her hunched shoulders relaxed and she sat up straight. She stood from her wheelchair which she’d been in for many years and allowed herself to be led forward.
As Aki was led away, her old and worn body was left behind. Her worn hands clasping the completed dreamcatcher held gently against her chest and a smile on her lips.