Gone by Samantha Seto

In a small house hidden among evergreen trees and a misty, tall mountainside, Ava pushes the black wired door open to the backyard enclosed by a wooden fence. Ava picks round fruit from a tree branch. The bright sun is high overhead in the late afternoon. Ava wears a long floral skirt and a blouse. Her thin blonde hair flutters in the gentle wind. She puts the fruit in a light brown woven basket. She lifts up her skirt to prevent it from dragging across the grass. The sun beats down on her face. Ava feels a warmth cover her body. She takes pine needles and breathes in. She walks to the beans and peppers and touches their raw coats. Ava puts a handful of them in her basket. “Ava! Where are you?” Grandmother Rosemary calls. Ava turns to look at the house and she sees her grandmother with gray hair, wearing an apron and standing at the door. Her parents had left town to celebrate their anniversary.

Ava walks to the door. “Ava, the water is boiling on the stove. I need the bean sprouts,” says Grandmother Rosemary. Ava gives her the basket filled with colorful fruit and vegetables. Grandmother Rosemary takes the basket and hurries into the kitchen. Ava follows her. Her grandmother drops bean sprouts into the pot on the stove. Ava listens. She carries napkins and silverware to the table. She sets them down in front of two chairs and goes back for two glasses. Ava waits and sits in a mahogany armchair, looking through the pile of mail at letters, bills, and magazines.

Grandmother Rosemary wears an oven mitt and carries the bowls of soup to the table. Ava walks to the table, which is covered in a white linen tablecloth, and sits in a woolen chair. Ava puts a spoonful of soup to her lips. Grandmother Rosemary says, “It’s a beautiful day outside.” Ava gazes at the window. “I wish I could go horse-back riding at Keira’s house,” Ava says. Grandmother Rosemary nods. On the wall, there is a portrait of Grandfather who passed away when Ava was a little girl and a serenity prayer print. Ava puts down her spoon. She says, “Olivia is getting married next year.” Grandmother Rosemary puts her napkin to her lips and sighs. Ava smiles and brushes her hair to the side. Grandmother Rosemary glances at the clock and says, “Time flies.”

Ava opens the curtains in the room upstairs. The moon glows in the sky. She looks at the queen-sized bed with a quilt and two pillows. Ava sits at a desk with her father’s childhood teddy bear and sees pencils in the drawer. Ava walks to the dresser and finds a stack of old photo albums. She picks one with a silver cover and sets it on her bed. Ava turns the gold knob to open the door of the closet. She walks inside and the light comes on. The closet smells of mothballs and old-fashioned clothes. Ava finds a purple-blue dream catcher in the dark corner and reaches out to touch it. She strokes the delicate, soft feathers and looks at the star design on white strings.

Ava walks down the stairs. Grandmother Rosemary sits on the sofa to knit. She uses yarn to make a blanket. Ava sits next to her grandmother and opens an album cover. “Look what I found,” Ava says. She flips the pages to look at snapshots of her uncle’s wedding. “Remember, you were a flower girl,” Grandmother Rosemary says. The photo album keeps memories in torn, crinkling pages. Ava points to a baby photograph. Ava is an infant. She wears a little pink dress and carries a stuffed bunny. Grandmother Rosemary plucks a tissue from the box on the table. She dabs the tissue at her eyes.

That night, Ava wears her nightgown in the dusty, empty room at her grandmother’s house. She wonders if her parents are having a good time in Maine. They had taken an airplane that day. They left me here. Ava lays awake. She stares at the brown, caving-in ceiling. The room is filled with darkness. Memories flood her mind. Ava weeps silently. Her melancholy tears stream down her cheek onto the pillow. She feels as if her heart has been ripped out of her chest. Ava tiptoes on the creaky floor. She opens an orange capsule pill bottle and shakes a small white pill in the palm of her hand. She takes the tablet and a water bottle from her bag. Ava plops it into her mouth and takes a sip of water. Then, she returns to the bed. Her cheeks are red and tear-stained. Her eyes painfully ache. Ava quietly hums a song to herself and falls asleep.

Samantha Seto has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University as a Writing Seminars major and a History of Art minor. Samantha is a third prize poet of the Whispering Prairie Press. Her writing has been published in various journals or anthologies including Ceremony, Soul Fountain, and Black Magnolias Journal. Samantha has work published in the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Brown University’s Cornerstone Magazine, Yale Logos, and The Harvard Ichthus. She lives in Washington, D.C.