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Once Upon a Fairytale of Real Fiction


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Heartbreak resonated throughout the funeral home. Tears fell like stones cascading into oblivion. Death is part of life; however the eight-year-old granddaughter of the deceased fell short of grasping the finality of this goodbye, to her idol, her role model, her Nanie. The funeral home had a sickeningly cheery decor; flowers filled the area surrounding the white casket that held the body of the only person who could have made this gloomy event cheerful. The heart wrenching truth that her light had burnt out sunk into each guest as they filed through paying their respects to the woman who looked as though she was simply sleeping. When it was her turn the granddaughter stood on her tip toes to see her grandma’s friendly face one last time; salty tears rolled down her soft cheeks. Seeing the body of her grandmother crushed the childhood innocence of not knowing death, which she had barely been given the chance to enjoy. As the child’s eyes graced her grandma, her mind began flashing back to every moment she once spent with her Nanie, wishing for extra time to make more memories just like them.

The memory of the pure kindness that the little girl’s Nanie had shown her the day when she had made a three legged table flowed through her mind. When everyone else called it juvenile and useless, her Nanie told her that it was a fine piece of work and promised that someday they could make a beautiful dining room table together. Or all the days when the young girl had been sick, her Nanie would put Pocahontas into the old dusty VHS player, wrap the girl up in blankets, and serve her delectable homemade chicken noodle soup. Every memory complex or minuscule ran through the little girl’s mind. Her fondest memories were the simple ones of playing games at Nanie’s tiny dining room table and eating succulent plums all afternoon until her mom told her it was time to go. Nanie never spoke to the girl like a child; she would talk to the girl about anything, as though she was an old friend. Even though the shell of the woman who shared all of these memories lay before her lifeless, Nanie’s warm chuckle still echoed in her mind. The small girl still had not fully accepted that this would be the last time she would see the lovely face of her most admired role model.

She had stood over her grandma for nearly twenty minutes, but to her it felt like twenty seconds. Her family pushed her along, knowing not even twenty more minutes would be time enough to say goodbye. Her mother guided her back to a front row seat for the remainder of the funeral service. Tears continued to collapse to the floor seeping into the magenta carpet that covered the cold concrete underneath, as the Pastor tried to comfort the crowd with a few cliché words. The thump of the casket closing reverberated throughout the room, and the devastated mass was dismissed to the cemetery. The little girl’s heavy heart felt full of piercing shattered glass as the conclusion of the funeral finalized itself in her brain.
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Two months had passed, yet grief still overwhelmed the little girl; she yearned for a warm hug from her sweet Nanie or the comforting, jolly chuckle accompanied by her Nanie’s bright smile. Her family dynamic was different without the matriarch there to guide them. All hope of comfort seemed to be lost until one magical night, when the young girl had a vivid dream of her Nanie. She was in an elegant bed of gold, and her skin was smooth and new; Nanie looked better than the girl had remembered. Her hair shimmered, and her eyes were bright. She looked at peace as she held her granddaughter’s hand and the lucid words,

“No matter what, we won’t ever be apart as long as you keep me in your heart,” slid out of Nanie’s mouth with clarity and softness as she pressed her hand to the child’s heart, “I’ll see you in a year,” Nanie playfully continued with a wink of her periwinkle blue eye.

Before the girl could answer, the dream quickly halted; she vigorously squeezed her emerald eyes shut, hoping to go back to that place. The heat from her Nanie’s hand was still present over her heart, and the young girl knew that somehow she had just been with her Nanie.

The following morning the girl told everyone that she had been with Nanie, and that everything would be okay. Hardly anyone believed what the girl had to say, and the kids at school told her that, “Fairy tales aren't real,” and to “Grow up you big baby.” Even with discouragement the girl’s faith never wavered; she believed in her heart that what she said was the truth. When she was asked to give a ‘realistic’ explanation of the story she was unable to comply. All she had to show for her meeting was a heart full of happiness and the comfort in knowing that her biggest role model would be at her Christmas program, her high school prom, her graduation, her wedding, and every other important event, even if it was just in spirit.

Every year since, the little girl has dreamt an unexplainably vivid dream of her Nanie, and each year she woke up with the warmth of her Nanie’s touch still flowing through her veins. As the small girl became a woman Nanie did not age, if anything, she looked more youthful each year. The two spent their time discussing what had happened in the past year and their yearly meeting drew to a close with Nanie sharing her wisdom with her now adult granddaughter. Their time together was not long, but just having a new conversation to add to her collection of memories, filled the girl with undeniable joy. Each dream concluded with a cozy hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a promise to meet again in a year. The young woman’s Nanie kept the promise that she had made eleven years prior, to be there always and has never once left the girl’s heart.



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