Twelve-year-old Amber Fieldale stood beside Mrs. Hobbs, Gran’s housekeeper and companion, in the family pew. Amber was an orphan and had lived with Gran since her parents had been killed in a car crash. Gran had been Amber’s legal guardian since she was six years old.
Amber’s legs felt like jelly and she sat down with a thud. A shudder went through her as her attention went from the black clad people attending Gran’s funeral to the oak coffin covered with white daisies and roses.
Mrs. Hobbs gave Amber’s hand an encouraging squeeze and smiled.
Amber turned her head to look out the window and into the surrounding hills. Her thoughts drifted to the evening before. She had been standing beside Aunt Anne, Gran’s daughter, in the funeral parlor, as everyone had gathered to say goodbye. The coffin was open with Gran propped up against a white satin pillow. The coffin’s lining was also satin, but green. Gran had looked at peace but also like she would sit up any second and say something.
Amber had shivered and bolted outside when Aunt Anne had asked her to kiss Gran one last time. The stars had twinkled in the dark sky, but one star had been brighter than the others. Was Gran looking down and watching over her? Goosebumps had formed on Amber’s arms, and she had folded them over her chest. She wished she had grabbed her coat.
The click of Aunt Anne’s heels on the wooden floor as she walked down the aisle brought Amber’s mind back to the present. Amber and Gran hadn’t seen Aunt Anne very often because of Aunt Anne’s busy schedule. Every few months, there had been a whirlwind visit that had exhausted Gran. Between visits there had been phone calls and an occasional letter.
Aunt Anne dabbed her eyes with a rumpled handkerchief. Her back was stiff and erect, and she was dressed in a dark grey pinstriped suit with a black hat. A black veil concealed her dark brown eyes.
Amber’s gaze wandered to where Uncle Mathew, her mother’s younger brother, and his family sat. She had always looked forward to his visits. He was a kind, gentle man who told stories about the scrapes her mother and he had got into when they were kids. Uncle Mathew lived a quarter mile away and Amber played with her cousins frequently.
Amber’s thoughts went once more to the night before when she had tossed and turned in her bed. She had drifted from one dream to another. She smiled when she remembered the dream where she’d danced in the meadow with Gran.
Gran had been ill for several weeks and had been rushed to the hospital. On Amber’s last visit Gran had squeezed her hand before drifting off to sleep. That night Gran had passed away and the following days were a blur.