“Aunt Lily tell me a bedtime story,” Aurora said.
“Arms,” Lily said slipping the night gown over the little girl’s raised arms. “There you are,” she made a funny face at the little girl as her head popped out of the top.
Gathering Aurora’s white-blonde hair and pulling it from the opening, she asked, “What would you like to hear?”
“Tell me about when you and mommy were kids.”
Lily bent down and looked into the girl’s lavender eyes. “You know things were different back then, right?”
“I know. Tell me about your big fight. What was it about?”
Lily studied her niece. While technically not Aurora’s aunt by blood, she was so much more. A second mom would be more accurate. “Sweetie, that’s more of a campfire horror story not a bedtime story. All I need is to give you nightmares and your mom would have my head. Literally. Or daddy would.”
Aurora looked at her, pouting.
“Besides, I’m pretty sure you know the story. You’ve either overheard it, or you… you know,” Lily said.
Aurora’s face was pinched in a moue of disapproval. “You know that’s not how it works. My sight is the future, not the past.”
Lily had to suppress a grin, thinking such haughtiness from a 7-year old. “Fine. Crawl under the covers first. Just remember that if you have nightmares, I’m telling your mom and dad you forced me. And you better not snitch me out you little monster. If one of your brothers or sisters comes asking about this, I’ll know who to blame. And you can bet I won’t be happy,” Lily said the last as she tickled the girl.
“I can deal with mom and dad,” Aurora giggled. “I wouldn’t snitch on you, and I promise I won’t tell anyone else.”
Lily sighed and tucked the covers around her niece. “Where to begin… it was the mid-sixteen hundreds and life was very, very different than what you know. Your mommy’s parents work for mine, doing farm work.“
“Were you rich?” Aurora interjected.
Rich? No. We worked hard, but we were only a little better off than others. Our home was made of mostly rough-hewn wood unlike your mommy’s, which was made of waddle and daub.”
“Wad-what?” Aurora asked.
“It was made by taking branches and weaving them together and then filling the gaps with the kind of clay that dried hard. It was kind of like making a big mud pie house.”
this elicited another giggle from Aurora. “Anyway, the cities weren’t big, they were more like villages. We lived out in the country, and there were fewer kids to play with and less time to play since we all had chores to do. You have it easy compared to us. But we still found time to play.
“Since there were fewer kids to play with, and we were closest to each other, your mom and I became close friends at an early age. I was a year younger and her family worked for mine, but we treated each other as equals.
“As we grew, we spent most of our time together both working and at play. We were basically inseparable. We were the best of friends. We shared everything. Our chores, our clothes, our food and other things as we grew up,” Lily said, a smile growing as the memories came back.
“Like what?” Aurora asked.
Lily’s smile disappeared. “Oh, um, toys and other things like that. Anyway, we grew up and became teenagers, still spending as much time as we could together. We worked six days a week and went to church on Sundays, usually having lunch has a group, both of our families.
“Sundays were our days to explore and play. One Sunday, after church and our usual lunch, we changed out of our church clothes and headed out to play. That particular day we decided to head into the nearby forest.
“We played in that forest for years and know it better than most of the woodcutters and hunters.”
“What kind of animals lived in the forest?” Aurora asked.
“Mainly smaller animals, like squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. An occasional snake or deer would show itself. The snakes or maybe a wild boar were the only things that might have hurt us, other than ourselves of course. We were champion tree climbers because of that.
“On that day, we played until after dusk. We were playing hide-and-seek and it was my turn to be it. The copse was big enough we had set boundaries, or else we could spend hours looking for each other, even through we both knew all of the best hiding spots. So our area was about an acre, which we could cover in about fifteen minutes.
“Your mom hid and I searched all the usual places and couldn’t find her, so I went back and looked all over for her again. After a half hour more, I gave up and called out to you. ’You win Annabeth,’ I yelled. It was getting dark out and even darker inside the forest under the canopy of leaves, so I yelled for her to come out so we could head home, but she never answered me. I yelled and yelled for her.
“I searched for her inside our area and started going out further and further, thinking that she might have gotten hurt and couldn’t call out for help.
“By the time I stopped searching and went for help, I could see the moon’s glow through the tree tops. Coming out of the woods, I saw the moon was full, providing plenty of light to see by, so I ran back home, yelling for your mommy all the way.