Lily closed her eyes, feeling the delicate autumn breeze press softly against her skin. She shook up a chromatic bottle, breathed in deep, and blew out through her pursed, chapped lips, slow and steady into the soapy hoop. When she opened her eyes, she saw dozens of bubbles floating towards the heavens, a rainbow in each watery world.
Towering beside her stood Grandma’s favorite sight: a single birch tree, its bleached-white bark in an eternal state of peeling, with crimson leaves so stark that they demanded full attention, even in autumn. Grandma used to sit on her wicker chair in front of the porch, knitting gifts for her grandchildren and watching the breeze rustling through the crimson leaves. When Lily looked at the birch tree, she thought of her father’s fluorescent red Patagonia ski jacket. Before it became a memento, it had belonged to his own father. He wore it today, rummaging through Grandma’s home. Packing the things to keep.
Lily wondered if he would keep the vintage rocking chair.
Grandma loved to watch Lily blowing bubbles in the garden as she rocked and knitted and chatted of younger years, like when she was Lily’s age. When she too made bubbles in the green grass.
Lily’s mother emerged from Grandma’s house in tears. She dashed out, hopping into the car and slamming the door shut. She was staring at a gaudy necklace she held in her hand.
The girl closed her eyes. She could hear the dry creaks of the wicker chair and her grandmother’s gentle voice. She could smell Grandma’s stew cooking, wafting from the open window, the fragrances of primrose, jasmines, and her namesake no match for the scent. She blew more bubbles and opened her eyes. She couldn’t see Grandma on the rocking chair. But she realized that if she really, really focused, each bubble evolved into a crystal ball.
In one, Lily saw her grandmother looking back, the same age as her. Blowing bubbles in a magical garden. Smiling larger with every breath.