The oak trunk in the attic, carved with intricate lilies, opened with a creak. Selah kneeled before it. She inherited the house and everything in it from her grandmother, being so close to Eleanor. Selah had only been in the house for a month. She missed her grandmother and still had many things to go through.
She pulled out an old white dress, satin and chiffon, both crumbling. Carefully, Selah lifted it out of the trunk by the shoulders, realizing that the it was an off-the-shoulder style wedding gown that her grandmother had worn. She had seen pictures of Eleanor in this gown. The satin now hinted at a hue of dark yellow. Holding the dress away from her, she looked at the impossibly tiny waist. Chiffon wrapped the waist, then tumbled down the back, creating a delicate train. Sad, Selah turned the gown around to survey this chiffon in the back. A row of satin buttons lined the back all the way up, and down, the gown. The button on top stood out from all the other white satin buttons in a mixture of blue and clear stones. When she looked more closely, Selah realized they were sapphires and diamonds.
When she touched the jeweled button, it fell off the dress into her hand. She immediately stood, shoulders hunched, tears streaming down her cheeks because the dress was now a memory of its former glamorous self. She carefully laid the fabric back in the trunk and closed the lid, running her hand along the top with finality.
She folded her fingers around the button, drew herself up from her knees and headed downstairs. From the utility room, she grabbed a trowel. Then, she headed to the back door.
Once in the back yard, the heat of the day hit her like a slap. She faced the lily garden for a long while doing nothing. Memories of her grandmother gardening flooded her mind. Lilies were Eleanor’s favorite. Selah would plant nothing but lilies in her garden.
Selah approached the side yard of calla lilies just off the porch. She knelt down. Perspiration already began to bead on her forehead and beneath her dark, heavy hair at the back of her neck. With the trowel, she dug a hole and sat back on her heels. She could feel the sweat smoldering beneath her tank top. She pulled Eleanor’s treasure from the pocket of her capri pants. Looking at the button between her smudged fingers, she marveled at the quality of the gemstones.
She intended to place the button in the lily garden, a glorious jeweled seed. Suddenly, the button sprouted wings. It flew from her hand up into the heat, flitting, holding steady in the air, then coming back to rest, wingless, in her palm. Selah blinked back tears. Her mouth hung open.
Her gaze remained fixed on her open hand. There the button lay just as before, gems gleaming, as if nothing happened. She wiped sweat from her face.
Selah sighed. Her glance slipped down into the hole she had dug for her grandmother’s button. Whether the sultriness had played tricks with her vision or Eleanor tried to convey to Selah her wishes, she didn’t know. After countless minutes of silent contemplation, she slid the brilliant stud into her capris pocket. She filled the hole back in with dirt, leaving it empty.
Selah went inside to wash her hands.
This flash fiction short story was originally published in Fieralingue in 2011.
© 2018 Dawn Leslie Lenz