Lillie stood on the large rock, her hand shaking. If you were there, you wouldn't be able to tell if it was from fear or from the cold. Maybe both. She stood upon the large rock, looking down at the fields below her. This was supposed to be her happy place. The large rock in the middle of the cornfields at her grandparents farm, where she could see everything, where she could feel like she was in control. But as she stood on the rock, she felt anything but happy. She was petrified. She was frozen in time. She was 16, but she felt like she was 8 again. 8 was when her grandparents died and Mom sold the farm. 16 was where her mom had decided to answer a text. While she was driving. It was the last text she ever sent Lillie could see the new owners of the farm, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, running threw the field, their bodies cutting through the corn like knives. Lillie hadn't been to her happy place since the farm was sold, but she needed it now more than ever. Her mom was underground in a wooden box. It wasn't fair, Lillie thought, that her mother was gone.
"Get off, girl!" the farm owners snapped at her as they ran closer. They were followed by Lillie's dad. "Get off, Lil! We don't live here anymore!"
Truth be told, they had never lived at the farm, but they visited their grandparents so often that it felt like ````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````home. She had lost that a long time ago. and she wanted it back. If she couldn't have her mom, the world could at least spare her a rock.
"Fuck you," Lillie sneered at the old couple, and then turned to her dad. They shared the same face; sunken green eyes, thick bushy eyebrows, and the most recent feature: tear-stains.
"Why, dad?" she asked. "Why the hell is she gone?"
"Lillie..." he sighed, shaking his head.
"What, Dad? You want me to be strong? You want me to act like a 16 year old? Well you know what? My mom just died. Your wife just died. I deserve to be sad."
Her dad looked resigned, taken aback, but Lillie just stood there, motionless. She held her hands to her heart and looked up at the dark green, cloud filled sky, and she new a storm was coming. A big, big storm that would carry her away, she hoped, far away from earth and to her own happy place, her own rock. To her mom. She cried.
Is it possible to love something that's going to hurt you? Is it possible to crave something that you know isn't good for you? Is it possible to want something that you know won't love you back? These questions float around in my mind like molasses, slowly pouring into one another and overlapping until they're just a big jumble. Matt fumbles with the phone until finally, satisfactory fills his face as the screen begins to glow. He sighs, then looks at me and holds the phone out.
"You ready, Mom?"
I bring my hands up to my face, tracing my wrinkles as if admiring one's old age was a thing.
"No," I respond curtly, turning away from his outstretched hand.
"Come one, Mom. Lacey hasn't seen you in so long. This is the only way,"
"How about you buy a plane ticket and fly her here?" I shoot back, letting myself the slightest bit of guilt. It was always a sensitive topic, talking about Matt's daughter. My granddaughter. She smoked and cursed, even though she said she was trying to be better, trying to be healthier. But she only got moodier, locking herself in her room and sneaking out at night. That was before she ran off with her boyfriend at 17, and didn't connect again with her parents until she was 20. The police found her in California, God knows how she got there, but refused to come back because she had her boyfriend, who was older, with her. Matt and Dayna didn't fight her.
"Fine, Mom, if you really don't want to," he sighed, turning away.
I sigh back, shaking my head. "Okay, okay. Fine."
Matt smiles and hands me the phone. I fight the urge to squirm away and throw the phone to the ground. All I have to do is press a button. One button.
I reluctantly lower my finger onto the screen.
The phone rings 7 times before picking up.
It's a young female voice, raspy, crisp.
Its a mask. It's covering up pain and too many bottles of beer.
"It's Grandma Lillie," I whisper back, shoeing off Matt. He throws me a thumbs up and slowly closes the door, grimacing as it squeaks.
I look around me, at the guest bedroom. The soft, pastel yellow that Lacey would hate. The warm sunshine, the jumble of gnarled wires, the birds' nest made of wispy straw and sticks that peek out from under the roof.
I hear a cough from the other side of the line.
"How have you been?"
My hand is shaking now. I don't want to do this, I don't want to touch the device that killed my mom. I want to smash it to the ground and get rid of it.
I can remember it clearly, the moment Dad stepped into my room, eyes wet. I was on a call with my friends at the time, and I begged him to get out. He took my phone from me and hung up. It was the last tome I touched a phone. His voice was like beads, slipping off the thin thread and falling everywhere. He couldn't gather the words, gather the syllables. He began to sob and so did I. The tears pooled up and soon we were drowning in the salty water. We got used to just floating there, and then all the water drained and we were stranded, lying cold and alone.
"Fine, I guess," Lacey replies. I can almost imagine her blowing smoke out of her mouth, rolling her hardened eyes at the sound of my voice.
"What have you been up to lately?"
"Lacey, I wanted to say that I'm sorry."
"For what?" she asks, a bit of anger seeping into her voice.
"For not being there."
"Yeah," she replies.
I look at the phone, and then it vibrates.
I press on it until a video of Lacey pops up.
Her hair is died purple, her ears and nose are pierced. She is different then the little blonde girl with bright eyes who bothered me while I worked, begging me to get her ice cream.
"I guess I forgive you," she whispers, her eyes scanning the phone. I can feel her stare spreading across my face, my wrinkles.
We're like cracks in a mirror; we can't see our full reflections, our full selves.
I love Lacey, or course.
But she burns. She hurts.
I want her to love me, I want to be her Grandmother.
But how can I do that if she will destroy me?
Not love me back? What if she doesn't like me anymore?
I stare at the device in my hand. I want to get rid of it. It got rid of my mother all those years ago. But this is for Lacey.
"I miss you, Lacey." I spit out.
"I miss you," she repeats.
We sit in a silence for a while.
I hate technology, I hate everything about it.
But I love Lacey.
It's a comfortable silence.