Renora… Renora… Renor-…. The startled girl jolted upright in her small straw bed in a cold sweat. She moaned and wiped the small droplets from her forehead with the inside of her left wrist. Her long blonde hair was damp and her strong blue eyes were soaked with salty tears. She moved to the side of her bed and the cool wood felt pleasant on the bottoms of her feet. Her toes stretched and pressed into the floor. She felt like lying on the smooth wood, sprawled out, to cool off her whole body. She glanced up at her grandmother whose bed was a couple yards from hers, a concerned look sketched on her wrinkled face.
“You had another dream about… them, didn’t you, Renora?” the girl’s grandmother asked softly.
“No, no, it w-” She breathed in deeply, trying to compose herself before she tried to speak again. “It was just a bad dream.”
“You heard them calling your name.” She didn’t ask this, but stated it, for she knew. “You always wake up in a sweat when you dream about them, dear. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Gran, you know I miss them, and that’s why this is happening. They are always on my mind. Whether I want to or not, I always see their faces.” Her feet grew hot so she shifted them to a different area on the floor where they were once again comfortable.
“Your parents were great people, Renora. They loved you more than the air they breathed, and they should never leave your mind.” She slowly sat up on the side of her bed, grunting in pain from her arthritis. She clutched her knees with a frail hand and painfully stood up, her eyes squeezed shut. She slipped on her white wool slippers and took baby steps to Renora’s bed. She sat slowly and placed her hand on Renora’s knee. The girl gently placed her head on her grandmother’s shoulder. “Look at me, sweetheart.” Renora obeyed. “I can’t do anything to make your dreams vanish from your memory, but I can help you to forget for a little while.” She smiled, letting her slightly yellowed teeth show. Renora was forced to return the smile, knowing exactly what her grandmother was hinting at.
She helped her frail elder to stand and walk down the short hallway to their living area. Renora placed a few oak logs in the aged stone fireplace and lit them with a match as her grandmother trudged to the kitchen and started throwing various ingredients into a metal mixing bowl. Soon enough, the logs were overtaken by the heat and intense flames. They let off a sweet smell which mixed which the herbs hanging to dry in the kitchen, which was Renora’s favorite. It held so many memories of when she used to cook with her mother.
Laughter filled the small room as Renora and her mother were preparing supper for the family that night. Fire enveloped the large bulky oak logs that lay helpless in the stone fireplace. A small metal pot was dangling on a rusted pole slightly above the flames. Renora, holding a large worn wooden spoon, joined her mother on the floor.
“It smells so good,” Renora commented as she stared at the scorched logs. “What does it smell like to you?” The inquisitive girl shifted her glance to her mother.
“It smells like…” She thought for a moment, then answered. “It smells like home.”
This seemed like the right answer, for Renora smiled and continued to watch the logs burn.
“Renora, the soup is boiling,” her mother cautioned as she clicked into teaching mode. “Now is the time to add in the basil leaves.” Renora did so while taking the pot off the fire with a small rag and placing it on a nearby hand towel. Her mother sniffed it, took a little taste, and smiled. “You passed.” They both laughed lightly, their giggles soon evolving into loud chuckles as if a personal joke was shared between them, just as Renora’s father walked in through the back door.
“Something smells awfully good!” her father bellowed happily. His rifle was hanging loosely on his back while his hunting knife was secured tightly on the side of his blackened leather belt.
“Father!” Renora shouted as she ran over to him. She wrapped her arms around her father, him kissing her head, closing his eyes as if he was saddened by something. Renora clung to her father for just a couple more seconds, not caring the slightest bit that his clothes were stained with blood and sweat.
“Hi Forrest,” Renora’s mother greeted, her smile daring to fade, as she could tell why her husband was disturbed. She stood and walked over and hugged him when Renora finally let go. “How was your day?”
A long few seconds passed before a response was spoken. “Fine I guess…not too much happened today….” Renora’s father trailed off, seeming to always change the subject when it came to his job. Renora noticed this clearly, but did not dare ask. She didn’t think about it much, but just then it crossed her mind that she had no idea what her father actually did for his job. “Carina, we have raised us a fine young woman,” Forrest said as he looked at his daughter. “Nothing short of my talented and beautiful wife.”
“Oh, Forrest,” Carina giggled. As they exchanged a gentle kiss, Renora laughed. Soon the room was filled with loveable laughter, and there was not a better feeling in the world.