Journey to Adeltraud
By Andrea W.
By Andrea W.
Emily Anderson was an ordinary girl. She had straight, brown hair and dull brown eyes. She was in sixth grade at Jefferson Elementary School and had average grades. She had lived in the same house as far back as she could remember, and had known her best friend, Hannah, since she was a baby. Emily’s life was normal. But that was going to change very soon.
. . .“Come on, Emmy, Please?”
Emily was walking down the hall of Jefferson Elementary School with her best friend Hannah and she was bugging Emily to let her look at the essay Emily had written for the Social Studies homework.
“No! You’re the one who didn’t do the assignment and Mr. Twitch will know if you copy my essay!”
“I won’t copy it; I’ll just get the information I need and then write the essay in my own words.”
“Go to the library and get your-” Suddenly Emily stopped. Their principal, Mrs.Howlette, was standing right in front of them with a melancholy look on her face. “Emily? You need to come with me. Your mother has called and requested you be available for pick-up within the hour. Where is your locker?”
As Emily was being pulled away by a very sorrowful Mrs.Howlette, she gave a puzzled look to Hannah, and then led Mrs.Howlette to her locker.
. . .Twenty minutes later, Emily was in the back of her mom’s Camry on the way to the hospital. Emily’s grandfather, her dad’s dad, was dying and had requested to see Emily. Why does he want to see me? I hardly know him! Thoughts raced through Emily’s head as they pulled into a parking space close to the hospital’s entrance. The hospital was a very large, old building. It had seven stories and Emily had only been in it twice in her life. The first time when her baby sister was born and the second time when her older brother broke his arm skateboarding. As the elevator slowly creaked up to the fifth floor, Emily saw that her mom’s eyes were pink and puffy. She had been crying. The elevator doors dinged open and her mom silently stepped out while a young woman dressed in a smart business suit stepped in. The woman had deep, green eyes and red hair that looked like silk. Emily barely got out of the elevator before the doors slammed shut. She had been captivated by the young woman’s expression and by the way the woman had stared through those sharp jade eyes at Emily with a look so gentle and soft, yet curious and pensive. By now Emily’s mom was way ahead of Emily and Emily had to sprint through the wide halls to reach her. They opened the door to Room 519 and walked in on a room full of people who were surrounding the hospital bed that held Emily’s grandfather. As Emily squeezed to the head of the bed, she noticed that all her aunts and uncles, all her cousins and siblings were in that room. Now she stood next to her grandpa and he said in a low, raspy voice,
“Emily- could I have a moment with you? Privately?”
He had said the word ‘privately’ a little loud and the room was slowly emptied. Emily stood awkwardly next to her grandfather’s bed as everyone shuffled out into the hall. Once she was alone with her dying grandpa, he let out a slow groan.
“Emily, there is something I need to give you.” He spoke in a hoarse, barely audible whisper, so Emily had to lean in to hear him. “This is yours.” He was struggling to talk, his face was pale, and his cheeks were hollow. He opened Emily’s hand and placed in it a small, tarnished key. Then he breathed a long, deep sigh and breathed his last. Emily was shocked. Someone just died while giving me a rusty key, There are people outside, and I have to tell them he’s dead?!? Let me rephrase that. She was stunned. She walked slowly to the door and pushed it open. Everyone glanced at her and then looked inside the door at the lifeless body in the bed. Emily’s mom gasped and swept up Emily in a hug as nurses rushed in. Aunt Jenny started crying while Uncle Henry embraced her. The cousins stood in stunned silence. Emily’s dad had tears rolling down his face. One of the babies started crying and Aunt Dena shushed her. After everyone had quieted down, Aunt Jenny asked, “What did he say to you?” Emily replied,
“He gave me this key.” As she showed everyone the key, they all leaned in to get a better look. One of the cousins asked in a sarcastic tone, “He gave you a key?”
“Yeah, and he said ‘this is yours.’ Then he- well, you know-”
Everyone nodded and looked away.
. . .The drive home was quiet. Even Emily’s four-year-old sister knew to be quiet. When they pulled into the driveway, everyone silently got out and went to their rooms. Emily started doing homework because tomorrow was Friday, but she couldn’t stay focused. She took the key out of her pocket and took a really could look at it. It was very intricately carved, with a picture of an apple tree whose branches were almost touching the ground with the weight of the apples. Why did he give me a key? What is it for? She examined the key, slowly turning it around in her fingers. Then she set it down and started on the math assignment.
. . .Before she knew it, it was Monday morning and they had to go to the cemetery for the funeral. On the drive down, her mom kept on talking about how great grandpa had been and what a great influence he had been on her and how she was so glad that he had died peacefully. Emily thought she would never be quiet. About fifteen minutes later with the crunch of gravel, they pulled into a parking spot at the cemetery. Everyone got out of the car and straightened out their messed-up clothes. They all started toward the funeral location with an uncomfortable silence. Being in a cemetery gives you an unexplainable feeling. You see all the gravestones and you think how lucky you are that you are alive and that the ones you care for the most are alive. This is what Emily was thinking when she kept on walking past tombstone after tombstone. The headstones had inscriptions like: “Beloved Dad and Husband” or “She left to soon.” It was a cold, wet day and the fog hung over the grass like a thick blanket. When you walked, wisps of fog swirled up behind you. There were great big oak trees scattered throughout the graveyard, and water dripped down from their brown and orange leaves. There was dew in the grass, and fresh droplets of water on the gravestones. There was a tranquil group of people dressed in black surrounding a grave, and that is where the Anderson family walked toward. When they reached the grave, they saw a coffin in the bottom of a large, rectangular hole. For about fifteen minutes, there was nothing but silence. Then the minister said a few words, everyone threw a little bit of dirt on the coffin, and everybody started moving toward the small gazebo that was about a hundred yards away. After Emily had had a quick bite to eat, she walked slowly among the headstones, reading the epitaphs and wondering what all those people must have been like. She walked for a long time, and when she glanced up to look at the gazebo, it was nothing but a small white speck in the distance. Near her she noticed a fountain that had no water. There was gooey, brown mud in the bottom section of the fountain, and there was a layer of dead leaves on top of that. It was a dull grey color because of all the years standing out in the harsh, fast wind. Emily was about to head back to the warm gazebo, when something caught her eye. It was a key-shaped indent in the grey stone. She slowly put her hand in her coat pocket and pulled the key her grandfather had given her out. It had been in her coat pocket since she put it there Friday night. She slowly reached out and put it into the indent. It fit perfectly.