The Meeting Place. NINETEEN
Ms. Hart zigzagged her way among the gravestones. “What are you doing here?” she said with a sprinkle of scorn. Ms. Hart looked like she knew more about Liv than Liv knew about herself so she kept quiet. “You running from something?” Ms. Hart asked, scratching the back of her head and raising her hand up high then landing it on her hip. An exhale followed. “The money’s on that, you know.”
Liv shifted from left to right to left. The seconds of silence were itchy. “You knew I was here?” she squeaked.
“I surmised.” Ms. Hart now formed a nimble star, feet spread, hands on hips, elbows jutting outward, and a zest of sunlight in her crown. “On my afternoon drive yesterday, I saw a girl that looked an awful lot like you comin’ from these woods. I doubled back to check it out.” With a finger pointing where Liv was now looking, Ms. Hart continued, “The disarray looked like it happened sooner than later.” Her words traveled into Liv like a hummingbird toward red. “You know what I’m talkin’ about?”
Liv kicked at an invisible leaf pile. “Yeah, I know what you’re talkin’ about.” She walked toward the rose granite headstone and bent to gather up the pieces of her Grandy’s plate. “I was having a bad day.”
Ms. Hart moved toward her, put a hand on her back as Liv righted herself, and said something that made Liv sigh in a relief that had been long in coming. “I get it, Liv. Believe me, I get it.” And Ms. Hart sighed, too.
Liv had taken the broken shards of the plate and hidden them in the pocket of the heavy coat at the back of her closet. There they could stay until winter. She had flopped on her bed and fallen asleep, dreamed the dream. Then Dave’s interruption. And now, on the cusp of her next night’s sleep in the new house on the new street that led to the highway with that cemetery lurking behind the scrim of trees, Ms. Hart’s question came back to her: You running from something?
All she knew was that she hated goodbyes. Her Grandy couldn’t help her now. Liv was on the Island of the Grandmotherless, taken far from the volumes of wisdom that were supposed to fuel her choices and confidence and strategies for living a good and happy life. Strip away the grandmother and you strip away the medicine for the falls, the potions for ease and laughter. What was she running from but the awful pain of goodbye.
Watch future Thursday posts for more of The Meeting Place.