“Good morning world.” The August sun melted into Elirose’s eyes as she looked up to examine her surroundings. She was a small, frail woman and the lines on her face each told a story about her life. She loved the sun in all of its shades, when it rose and when it set. She knew she was on borrowed time so she took great care of it. Her one-hundredth birthday happened to be on that day. That irked her. She had hated every one of her birthdays since her family made a big deal out her turning 80. “What’s so incredible about me living another year? Will you guys just let me live.” That was her perspective at 80, but over 20 years her sourness began to turn sweet as her eyes became more empty.
“Mom. Mom? Mom!” Elirose finally aware, turned her blank stare in the direction of her daughter. “Mom you won’t believe what I found!” Elirose’s daughter, Amelia, stood there holding up an old pair of shoes. “I found your Chuck Taylors in the closet.” Those shoes had taken Elirose to so many places and had lasted her until she was told she was too old to wear them. It was 1939 when it dawned on her that her age was not just a number. Her grandson was 15 and teen angst filled his tiny brain. Elirose was a fairly tough woman, especially in her 60s during world war II, but when her grandson mocked her for wearing her beloved sneakers, her face turned a shade of red. She wasn’t angry or embarrassed. She was just dumbfounded at the fact that she was being criticized by her own grandson. She put her favorite pair of shoes away that night and they never saw the light of day until her daughter was holding them up to her face. Elirose’s mind came back to the present and she remembered why Timmy wasn’t in the will. “Oh honey that’s great. Thanks. You can just leave them on the ottoman. I’ll look at them later.” Amelia was glad she could help and walked away feeling accomplished. The door clicked closed and Elirose jumped out of her seat, almost falling and clasped onto the pair of chucks. She put them up to her face and took a whiff of them. Her mind was flooded with so many memories. She could only really smell the rubber but her nostrils focused on the melted butter from the picture palace, and the coffee that she got on her first date with a girl. She felt something fall down her face. This feeling was familiar. She couldn’t believe she was crying over a pair of sneakers. The last time she cried was at her sister’s funeral and that was 10 years ago. Her husband died 2 years after, but she didn’t waste any tears on him. She only stayed married to him for the kids. After Todd cheated on Elirose, she vowed to never love him again. She was a forgiving person, but Todd had slept with her best friend, Monica. It was a mess of a situation, and Elirose had her bags packed and was heading out the door, but her daughter, Julia peeked her head out of her room and she had the most curious face. Julia was 6 years old the year of her father’s affair and she knew very little of what was happening around her, but when she saw her mom packed and ready to leave, she knew it wasn't a good thing. Her little eyes met her mom’s and every cry and laugh they had together filled Elirose’s eyes with tears. She decided to stay for her children, not because it was the right thing, but because she loved her daughters more than she hated her husband. Elirose’s day was full of looking back on her life and she hated that. After all, it wasn't a big deal but it seemed like her brain was making it one. Her hands were now shaking with the shoes in her hands. She felt a cool breeze that picked up her shirt. She placed the shoes on her feet and walked around to break in the 60-year-old pair. She instantly felt young again. There she was, a petite, young lady with no wrinkles or bruises or varicose veins. She was again that curious and driven girl ready to take on the world. Time had stopped for her in those ten minutes. The wind never felt so warm and the sky never looked so beautiful. She stood towards the sun with her arms out ready to be embraced. The sun glistened on every line and every white hair. Elirose was happy with her life and how far she had come. She became okay with leaving this earth the longer she stood. The familiar sound of leaves cracking when a car drove up the driveway caught her attention. She had forgotten that today was her birthday. Her 100th birthday would be a special one. All her family agreed to come over since it was “a big deal.” She refused to let them see her on what she knew was her last day. She knew it would hurt more if they saw her face right before she died so she ran. She couldn’t run too fast or too far but she made it around the block by the park. She didn’t want to die but her body didn’t make living any easier. She felt her toes wiggle in her shoes and smiled at the feeling. Letting go seemed like the toughest thing to do but as Elirose sat there on an abandoned park bench, she just watched the children play on the swings and run in the sand. She watched them get their sneakers dirty, sneakers that looked like hers and she knew that her life wasn’t over yet. There would be more. More joy and more fights and more sneakers. It wasn’t a big deal that her life was ending because others were just starting. She sat back into the cozy, wooden bench and the color left her eyes. Her spirit flew above to touch the sky and bathe in the sun.
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