Wolf's Lullaby

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Till we meet again....


A duck with a top hat.

A walrus with glasses.

A Santa in a tutu.

Hmm… That one definitely looks like Ms. Bartek’s nostril hair.

I observed the clouds lumbering over the afternoon sky as Ms. Bartek droned on and on about something I wasn’t paying attention to. It was the last class on a Friday.

I looked at the time on my phone.

Yeesh, I thought it had been like half an hour but it’s been only ten minutes and the lecture already bored me to death.

No wonder they call her Lona Snoozefest. The woman could lull a rock to sleep.

I burrowed into the red scarf around my neck, making myself comfortable in the hard chair. Gran made the scarf from my childhood blanket, said she couldn’t bring herself to throw it away. It was all that I had from my mother, a woman I never got the chance to meet. Gran never talked about her. It hurt too much; she died very young. I picked at the corner of the scarf that held the initials C.T.

I thought about her sometimes, usually as I reached a new milestone or on my birthday, though I never felt like I missed out on love and affection. Gran bundled me up in those sometimes to the point of suffocating, and I loved the woman to death. But scenarios played in my mind occasionally about what our life would be like had my mother been here with us.

Gran… she acted strange this morning…

“You sit your ass down. Today is a rest day.” I announced, ushering a thin, gray-haired lady back towards her comfy armchair.

“Oh, stop it,” she swatted me on the shoulder, “I’m not a child, young lady.” she straightened her spine, and fixed the blouse tucked in her skirt. She was all primped up, a pink lipstick on her thin lips, hair styled in a chignon. Even her nails freshly painted. The pig-headed woman.

“You weren’t feeling well yesterday. No running errands today for you, Missy.” I said adamantly, nudging her towards a chair again.

She pursed her lips, her nose high, but she sat down huffing in annoyance. “I’m fine. It’s just anemia you are being ridiculous,” she scoffed, crossing her hands over her chest.

“No. You are acting like a petulant child, and I just worry about my grandmother,” I pointed out, my voice stern, brow arched.

She clicked her tongue, and as a fore mentioned child she sunk in the armchair, pouting. Heaving a sigh of defeat, her blue eyes turned to me. “Ok, then you can take my car to school.”

“No way! My ass will go nowhere near that death can.” I shook my head, shuddering, thinking about the ancient Volkswagen.

“Oh, shush! It’s not that bad!” she defended.

“Not that bad? It’s older than you and its only holding on by duct tape, God’s will and our hope and wishes it doesn’t fall apart on the road,” I countered, waving my hand towards the window through which you could see the poor thing parked in front of our house. Green paint chipped, a crooked bumper, door handles only worked if you kicked the damn thing, and the windows didn’t go down anymore. “We should call someone to tow it to the junkyard. I don’t need to die an early death thinking about you driving that thing.”

She looked at me, her mouth opening as if she was about to argue, but then her eyes softened. Her pink lips turned up into a smile, and she waved at me to come closer.

“How tables have turned. Until yesterday I was the one scolding you,” her smile widened, her expression gentle. She cupped my cheeks, “I can’t believe that in a few months you’ll be eighteen! You grew up too fast,” her voice caught as her eyes shimmered with oncoming tears. My heart stuttered in my chest, “Gran, what’s wrong?” She shook her head, one tear escaping, sliding down her cheek, but her smile was wide. “I’m just proud of you, Sweet Pea. You grew up into a fine young woman, and I couldn’t have asked for more.” Her eyes roamed my face, and she smoothed my hair away from it.

“I love you too Gran,” I smiled widely, hugging her. She held onto me tightly for a long while. It made something churn in the pit of my stomach. It was as if she was afraid if she let go of me, I would disappear. “Gran, I need to go. I’ll be late for school,” I chuckled, extricating myself from her, placing a kiss atop her head.

“Oh, right? Off you go then.” She shooed me away, a smile on her face, but it was a sorrowful one. She took a tissue, wiping her runny nose, her eyes rimmed red, “I get too emotional with age,” she laughed.

I couldn’t explain it. I had an urge to just stick to her, stay home. “You know I could skip school today and we could have a girl’s day, the whole day,” I suggested.

“Oh, don’t you use me as an excuse to skip class! Go, you’ll be a senior in September, you need your attendance. I’m fine, I promise!” she clasped my hand, squeezing it affectionately, reassuring me.

Reluctantly, I pulled away from her, but not before I hugged her briefly once more. Then I bounded to the front door, backpack in hand.

“See you tonight Gran!” I looked back at her, waving.

“See you Sweet Pea,” she waved back, smiling.

I still had that unsettling feeling, but I shook it off and smiled at the text message that came half an hour ago.

Mon Gran: Hey Sweet Pea, don’t forget to pick up pizza for tonight.

I choose the movie! We’ll watch a classic you’ll love it!

Love you : )

My phone pinged again. Sara.

I turned to my friend, who sat at the back of the classroom. “Open it,” she mouthed.

As soon as I did, ‘Brahm’s Lullaby’ played. She sent me a video one of our classmates made of Ms. Bartek and my dumb ass didn’t turn off the volume.

Flustered, I fumbled with my phone to turn it off, but I was so surprised that it flew out of my hand and landed on the floor, still playing.

Right in front of Ms. Bartek’s polished black shoes.


I glared back at Sara as she covered her mouth, eyes wide in amusement, as she and the whole damn class tried not to laugh out loud.

Ms. Bartek gracefully bent down, picked up my phone, her expression unfazed as she looked at the video.

I’m dead. I’m so fudging dead.

Ms. Bartek fixed her glasses on her nose, ran a hand over her sleek hair she had in a low bun, straightened her spine as she leveled me with a look. “Miss. Celaeno, would you like to continue my lecture? I see it must be of no importance to you since you’re watching videos on your phone. That must only mean you already know everything. Enlighten us, please.”

Ok, God, now would be a time to open a portal for me to another dimension.

Ms. Bartek raised her brow as I gingerly took my phone from her hand, giving her an apologetic smile.

Any minute now, God. My body is ready for an isekai adventure. Just get me out of here.

That didn’t happen, unfortunately, But as I was preparing an apology, the door to the classroom opened abruptly.

Oh, Mr. Lozek! My savior! Maybe?

His expression was somber as his eyes landed on me.

“Ms. Bartek, I apologize to interrupt your class, but I’ll need to borrow Miss. Celaeno for a moment.” Oh, yes! I’m saved! I nodded at Miss. Bartek and flew out of there like a bat out of hell.

Mr. Lozek took a few steps away from the classroom, then stopped and turned to face me.

He seemed uncomfortable, not looking me in the eye. He was fidgeting like a toddler. I never saw him this nervous for all the three years he’s been my homeroom teacher.

“Miss. Celaeno,” he started, his voice wavering, sounding grim. “I’m sorry... It’s your grandmother, she…” And my heart sunk into the chasm that opened right underneath me.

She was gone.

My grandma, my only family, died.

It was a heart attack; she died instantly. Our neighbor Olga found her on the floor of her shop, called the ambulance, but they were too late. She was supposed to sit her ass down, yet she went to a goddamn store!

Everything was just a blur. A world of shifting, dimmed colors. Like I was underwater, holding my breath, waiting for someone to pull me out and tell me it didn’t happen.

I didn’t remember getting home.

Words spoken in muffled voices, from the lips on the faces I couldn’t register. My hands and legs moved automatically, slow, and heavy as lead…

Someone was beside me, holding me close. Their hands familiarly clutched mine and their flowery scent filled my lungs, soothing and numbing the sting in my chest.

A loud crash of something breaking startled me. And for the first time since I got the news, my mind blinked back to the present.

Intense, light green eyes of my childhood friend, which I haven’t seen this close in some time, looked at me with concern and sympathy.

“Hey, sweetie,” she said, giving me a rueful smile. I looked at her, confused.

“Hey…. what are you doing here?”

“Um T, hon… What do you mean? I was here since yesterday…” Mina’s voice was tentative, concern etched on her face.

“Oh... well I should tell grandma... she…” My eyes grew hazy with the oncoming tears.

“T... Oh, honey...”

“No... no...” I shook my head, jumped up from where I was sitting in the living room of my house, and darted towards the steps leading to the second floor. Running through the throng of people dressed in black, milling about, I pushed to get to grandma’s room.

I barged inside, only to find it empty. Her bed made, and her nightgown neatly folded in the middle of it.

But she wasn’t there.

Frantically I called for her, opening her dresser only to find all of her stuff still there. Opening the door of the bathroom.

She wasn’t there.

Lying down on the cold tiled floor, realization slammed into me like a tsunami.

Mina came soon after, sat down, and cradled me to her chest, running her hand through my hair.

“Minmin, she’s gone... she left me…. I’m... I have no one, anymore….” Bawling and sobbing, barely catching a breath, I cried my eyes and soul out.

“Shhh... T honey, I’m so sorry….” Holding me tighter, voice trembling. “You got me, sweetie. I’m here with you, don’t worry…” I held her shirt, balling it in my fist, burying my face in her chest.

That night I slept in grandma’s room holding her nightgown. Inhaling her scent for the last time, while Mina hummed a lullaby grandma used to sing to us when we had sleepovers as kids, stroking my hair until I fell asleep exhausted.

Soon after, the pain morphed into anger. A myriad of blazing thoughts filled my mind, screaming unjustly at her echo. How could you leave me?! How dare you die on me?! Why didn’t you take care of yourself more?! You should have gone to the doctor for checkups more often! You left me all alone!

The bouts of anger intermingled with sadness, stretched over the days leading up to the funeral. People were saying their last goodbyes, leaving flowers on the casket, and I clutched daisies, her favorite flowers to my chest.

I couldn’t utter those words.

In my mind, as I placed my flowers, I imagined her with a smile on her face, one hand on her hip, the other waving me off to school like she always did.

“See you later, gran.” I muttered, and on the wind, I imagined I heard her say, “See you, Sweet-pea.”

It wasn’t a goodbye; it was a promise we’ll meet again.

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