Story A Day for May, Day 22


Wild Child

Kate woke in a dark space–the umber ceiling pressed low, and she crouched so her head wouldn’t bump it. Columns framed her view. Through the slanted sunlight, golden dust motes spun, and into the golden sparks strode two long legs.

“Grandpa!” She rushed out from under the table and hugged him tight around the waist, a button from his shirt pressing into her cheek.

Can you hear music in a dream? Can you smell?

She smelled his cedar scent. She heard the faint riff of a guitar.

“Dance with me, Katy-Moon.”

They spun with the golden dust, through the sunlight. Over the guitar a voice sang, high and low and wandering like they did, through the magic dust and over the cracked floor.

“Dance with me!”

Kate opened her eyes to find the sunlight slanting into the bedroom. She felt her cheek where her grandfather’s shirt button had pressed. Her skin was creased from the fold of the blanket. She stretched, not wanting to release the memory of the dream. She still heard the song.

Wild child
eyes sparking light

Wild child
dance through the night

Wild child
wolves sing your name

Wild child
never will you be tame

It wasn’t a dream song. It was a dream song, but it was also a real song. She knew the lyrics. She hadn’t sung that song for, what–forty years? What was this song?

There had been good days, after all! Those stories she’d told herself, about a happy childhood–they hadn’t all been lies. There had been days when the door was open, and her grandfather greeted her when she ran in from school, and they’d danced and she’d hidden beneath the table, and he’d played the piano, and she sang, any old song she made up, and then he wandered through the study, calling, “Katy-Moon? Have you seen my moonlight?” and she would leap out from under the desk, grabbing him around the waist, and the button from his shirt would press into her cheek, she would hug him so hard.

Those days had not been lies.

And the silent days, too, the ones that had lain hidden through all the stories she told–those days had been lived, too.

Their lives lay side by side–with her stories, his poems, her songs, his notebooks. There were the dances they shared. There were the long days with no words. Their lives fit his shadows, his pain, but also his joy, his loves. It held their secrets: his unprofessed love, her prayerful hopes.

And there had been days when it wasn’t OK, and there had been days when it was magic.

Kate’s grandfather had taught her how to live. He had fashioned a space as wide as a sunbeam filled with dancing dust motes, as close as the musty fort under the table.

Every space could hold loneliness. Every space could hold love.

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Prompt for May 22: “Your character wakes up in a space they don’t recognize,” from