Author’s note- This is about the relationship between Rachel and her grandma Isabella. Enjoy!!!
“How do you bake chocolate chip cookies, grandma?” I wondered out loud, my gran smiled, her tanned brown hair was in a tangled braid, her eyes had an old, mature style yet a childish touch to it. Her dimples appeared as she patted my back gently.
“I’ll show you Rachel dear, follow me,” She took my hand in her own, I instantly felt warm and cozy with her. Grandma Bella always made the best chocolate chip cookies ever! Her signature recipes were handed down from generation to generations. I was in awe as I heard her melodious voice speaking proudly of her heritage… our heritage now.
I always wanted to learn how to bake those famous cookies of hers but she always said it was a secret. I begged her to show me when I was younger and grandma agreed but with a compromise of her own. I had to be twelve to learn the family's secret recipe. I impatiently waited for years until I was the age I was now. Finally, I’m going to learn the top secret recipe of gran’s cookies!!
“Take the flour and eggs out,” Grandma ordered me, I nodded and went to find her ingredients in the pantry.
I watched carefully, observing everything as gran measured the ingredients and added them, she gave me tips on how to make them soft and chewy.
“Now for the secret and most important ingredient.”
“What is it, more chocolate, milk, cinnamon?” I kept adding on the list but gran shook her head and gestured me to come closer.
She whispered the secret ingredient in my ear.
“Oh, well I have lots of that,” I added, flashing her a grin.
“I’m sure you do.”
I smiled, I’ve never seen grandma so happy before, it was like she belonged here… and I belonged with her… forever.
Forever didn’t last long I’m afraid. I was sitting on the dining table doodling away, daydreaming how the cookies were going to taste, I heard a thump come from the kitchen as if something heavy had fallen. Immediately I rushed over to investigate.
“Grandma?” I was at her side in an instant, gran looked so tired and helpless. I tried to help her up but I was afraid I’d hurt her more.
“Rachel…” My grandma uttered, her mouth twitched as she hesitated to finish her statement.
“Don’t cry,” She finally finished, I couldn’t help but weep more. My tears spilled on gran’s cheeks as I stayed by her side until 911 aids came for her.
“Are your parents here?” A kind woman asked me, she had a notepad in her hand as she jotted down anything that came to her mind.
I shook my head, they were still at work.
“Well, then come along, we’ll call them at the hospital,” She sighed as she opened the front door of her chevy and I hopped in.
“Will she be… ok?” My voice broke, I couldn’t imagine a life without gran, her lovable traits, the way she smiled reminded me of the rising sun that eliminated the darkness, her warm eyes were like mine, soft and tender. Who would bake cookies without her? Cookies? Oh no, the cookies were still in the oven, they’ll burn now, I felt the burning sensation in my throat, it was like inhaling poison.
I crossed my fingers for good luck as I waited for a response.
“I’m not sure… could be a minor problem or a major issue,” She said the ending very softly I only got half of what she spoke.
“Don’t worry, what’s your name?” She looked at the rearview mirror to see my face, I was biting my lower lip in anxiety. Blood was starting to appear on my lower lip as I bit harder… I wasn’t feeling the pain when I already was in agony.
“Rachel,” I replied unknowingly as I glanced across the window, I could see a huge white building coming to view.
“Nice name, I’m Karen,” She remarked, I didn’t pay much attention to what she said so I nodded as if I were.
Karen didn’t talk the rest of the way, I began to feel the aching pain sore to my heart, my heart was throbbing faster than ever before, I began to feel lightheaded so I placed my head against the cushion and dozed off…
“Rachel?” I heard the name as clear as daylight, that voice… the same voice that sang lullabies to me as a baby, the voice that protected me, the only voice that loved me just the way I am.
“Grandma,” I called out to her, she appeared as soon as I mentioned her. The same sweet smile, dazzling eyes and all.
“I have to leave, be a good girl,” She gently kneeled down in front of me to match my height as she stared into my chocolate brown eyes with passion.
“Don’t leave me gran,” I insisted, tears cascading down my cheeks, I held my hand out to her but gran moved backwards, slowly as her image started to fade away from my naked eyes. I cried out to her as I retreated my hand, nothing held it. Gran was gone.
“Rachel?” I gasped from the nightmare, my body felt a hundred degrees hotter as I searched for gran frantically.
“Rachel, what’s wrong?” Karen shook me out of my trance, she offered me some spring water and helped me relax until I was able to cope without her support.
“I… I saw gran leave me,” I blabbered, the nightmare was so real, what did it mean? I never day-dreamed before, was this a sign of something?
“Where’s gran?” I examined my surroundings carefully for a sight of her but her presence was empty.
“She’s inside, come I’ll take you, your parents are on their way,” She said, filling me in on everything.
“Will she be ok?” I choked out the question I’d been keeping inside me, I asked the doctor who had been examining grandma, I needed an expert's opinion to be sure my ephialtes had nothing to do with her… that I was just unstable and deranged.
“I…” The doc didn’t meet my eye, she kept looking behind me as if I didn’t exist. “Yes?” She looked hopeful that I would buy her answer but her reply came out like a question, like she didn’t want me to brood, like she was keeping something from me.
“I want to see her… now,” I demanded, my voice sounded childish but it didn’t matter to me.
“That’s not a very good idea right now, why don’t you color…”
“NO,” I pushed away from her presence and ran through the door, I didn’t stop until I saw my gran’s vibrant face again.
“Gran?” I spoke softly, hoping not to disturb her calmness, the walls were a light pastel color, an old antique wardrobe stood near the bed, pictures of still life flowers hung on the walls, the only decorations that I was able to see, I could see that I wasn’t the only visitor. A woman about gran’s age stood lifeless near gran’s bed. Her eyes had bangs underneath as if she didn’t sleep, her grayish brown hair stood straight like a porcupine quills. She reminded me a little of gran.
“You must be Rachel,” The woman stated, how did she know my name?
“She is my sister,” The woman pointed to gran, I was taken back. I didn’t know gran had siblings, she never mentioned them, looks like gran had a lot of things I didn’t know about.
“I’m Ainslee, you can call me… Ain.”
“I didn’t know gran had a sister,” I clarified my doubt.
“Yes, I’m aware… it was my fault, I left my family at a young age to go to a private school at another state, I lived with a distant uncle until I was mature enough to fend for myself. So I didn’t see Bells very often and I guess we… lost touch,” Ain glanced back at her sister's face, she seemed embarrassed as I looked down at my shoes, folding my arms behind my back while swinging my leg.
“Do you have kids?”
“Yes, I have a daughter and also a grandson, he’s younger than you though,” She smiled, as if remembering something funny.
“What’s his name?”
“R- Rachel?” I heard my gran ask for me, her eyes were closed shut, she seemed so… weak. Gran had never shown feebleness before, she always was so brave and…
“Your parents are here,” Karen announced, cutting my thoughts short. I sighed as I left grans' side to receive them.
“Rachel, what happened?” My mother inquired, she seemed to be in other thoughts… probably work.
“Gran… fainted,” I looked back at the room where she was kept.
“Oh dear…” Mom left my side as she strolled across the hall to talk to the doctors, I watched mom’s face flip through multiple emotions as she nodded at what the docs told her.
“Honey, no matter what… remember that gran will always love you,” I heard my mom sniff a sob as she gave me the, ‘I’m so sorry’ look.
I didn’t want to hear anymore as I flew across the room and sat by gran’s side, her condition got worse minute by minute. I knew that I was losing precious time with her, my throat felt tight as I brushed my hand against her cold skin.
“Rachel?” My eyes flickered back to gran’s face, her eyes were vaguely open, just enough for me to see the warmhearted brown eyes of gran.
“Yes grandma, I’m right here, are you ok?”
“Rachel, do me a… favor?” Grandma's voice was so mellow and feeble I had to edge closer to her endearing face.
“Here,” My eyes narrowed to my gran’s shaking hand, the one without a wire attached to it as she placed her hand on my lap.
“Take the bracelet,” She kindly ordered.
“Please, I want you…” Gran’s eyes closed in pain, I saw the blood pressure rising inside her as I was about to call for backup in case this was a serious matter.
“I’m fine,” She smiled weakly, showing she wasn’t some old woman that depends on others but her own person. I tearfully held her fragile hand for moral support.
“Take it… please?” Grandma had never asked me for anything, I nodded, obeying her wish and unclasped the charm bracelet, the cold metal felt like home as I tied it to my own wrist.
“Thank you,” I whispered, placing gran’s hand next to her other.
“I love you Rachel, never forget that.”
“I won’t,” I stared tearfully at her, gran smiled more broder as she closed her brown eyes, taking away my sunshine, her hand dropped at her side and her head fell to the side as she drew her last breath.
“I love you gran… always,” I cried out, realizing that gran was gone… forever. I’ll never get to see my grandma ever again.
“I’m sorry,” Ain comforted me, rubbing her hands against my shoulders as her tears spilled on me.
“Why?” I wailed as Ain squeezed my hand, consoling my grieving self.
Gran’s voices ran through my mind, she’ll want me to move on with life. I stood up from gran’s side, wiping my tears with the sleeve of my t-shirt as I kissed gran's forehead one last time and left unwillingly but for grandma’s sake I’ll do anything.
* * * * * * * *
“Come on Rachel, make some cookies… I know you can do it!” I rolled my eyes at Kevin; my boyfriend.
“I’ve never really made cookies alone before… not without…” I shook my head, trying to forget my disturbing past.
“Without?” Kevin questioned, his eyebrows creasing, making a ‘v’ shape.
“Nothing,” I blurted out, I was sensitive to that topic, I didn’t like to talk about… gran.
“Come on Rachel, my best friend’s coming over, he loves… no he adores cookies,” I felt Kevin nudging my shoulder with his playfully, I groaned having to recall recipes I’d forgotten years ago but Kevin’s convincing expression changed my mind as I agreed to make cookies… it was the holiday season after all!
Smiling, he placed a kiss on my forehead and left, leaving me to think clearly.
“Let’s see, what should I add first?” I asked myself foraging for just the right ingredients.
I took out the basic ingredients; flour, sugar, eggs… anything that made sense in a cookie.
My arms ached as I mixed with all my strength, the batter was a little lumpy than I remembered being.
I tasted it with the tip of my finger just to make sure the taste was perfect.
“Yuck,” I scraped the ruined batter in the trash.
“Gran, how do I make this?” I complained, sitting down on the stool with my head down. I’d only seen gran make cookies once… on the day she… died.
‘Bake from your heart’ I felt the words penetrate through my head.
“Gran?” I looked up, disappointed not to see her sympathetic face.
‘Don’t give up, remember what… I… told you’ The voice faded away, I stood up. This time with an encouraging smile. If gran was with me then I can do anything.
“I won’t let you down.”
I got started once again, this time gran’s instructions flooded in my mind like a harmony, telling me every step.
I laughed when she did, we were actually baking… together.
My memories brought me back to when I was little, the day gran and I worked together on making a scrumptious chocolate chip cookie, my hand felt like it was on fire as I whisked the batter, added the chocolate chips, everything gran instructed… I was fulfilling.
‘Add the secret ingredient’ Her melodious voice instructed, the warmth of her voice was so strong I felt her presence with me. All these years I’d thought gran left me for good but… I was wrong. She had been in my heart. With me every step of the way.
“Secret ingredient?” I questioned myself, what did gran tell me it was?
My hand unknowingly touched the charm bracelet gran had given me before she passed away. The cold metal feeling, the same I’d had when gran whispered her final words to me.
‘I love you Rachel, never forget that’ I blinked back tears, just hearing her voice again made me more confident.
“Love… that's the secret ingredient,” I facepalmed, how had I forgotten that?
‘Good girl, I must leave now…’
‘Remember, I’ll always be within you’ With that gran’s voice dissolved with the air around me.
* * * * * * * * *
“Wow, this is amazing!” Kevin remarked, kissing my flushed cheek as he took another bite of my cookie.
“Yes, it’s impossibly delicious,” Hayden; Kevin's best friend complimented. My cheek turned red as I sat down next to Kevin, seeing him happy gave me joy.
“What’s the secret?” Kevin asked once Hayden had gone home.
“Promise you won’t tell?”
“Promise, cross my heart.”
“Love?” Kevin looked confused.
“Yup and I have tons of it to share.” I smiled back.
‘You sure do’ I heard gran’s voice in the back of my head.
‘Thank you… for everything’ I thought back.
Gran chuckled, ‘Remember, I’ll be here when you need me’
‘I know, I love you so much gran’ I took a bite of my cookie, it was just right with a hint of love.