Jenny slipped into her room and pressed her back against door. Her shiny black curls fell over her eyes and she shook her head, afraid to move. Head lowered, she listened until the clatter and voices downstairs assured her that the adults were still in full swing, saying all those things that didn’t matter.
Grandma had given Jenny a big red purse a few days before she died, and mother had said Jenny could carry it at the funeral. Jenny felt grown up and lonely with it over her arm. When she saw Grandma in the casket, in her long flowing Sunday dress with the toes of her Sunday boots peeping from under the skirt, she just knew that Grandma had planned it like this. She must have. So when no one was looking, Jenny undid each button at the cuff of each of Grandma’s boots and slipped those boots right into the big red bag. After a moment, Jenny pulled the skirt of the dress down over Grandma’s crooked brown toes, hoping no one would notice. Jenny knew they wouldn’t understand, but Grandma would want to go barefoot into heaven. She’d do it for Jenny for sure.
Grandma had pulled on those boots every Sunday morning for as long as Jenny could remember, then walked down to the service at Ebenezer’s singing “I’ll Fly Away” as she walked. Jenny had watched from the window of her room, wondering why she and mama didn’t go too. But when she’d asked, mama just shook her head, then pushed her yellow hair from her eyes and looked away. Maybe it skipped a generation, thought Jenny.
Now, Jenny planted her small bottom on the floor and pushed at the big red bag with her own crooked brown toes. After sitting awhile with her feet against the bag, she finally found the courage to pull out the boots and slip them on. She’d never seen Grandma do it, but it only made sense that she could. If anyone could, it was Grandma, and the magic was in the boots. If Jenny wore those boots just right, she was sure she could learn the trick too.
“Okay” Jenny said. She walked to her window, pushed open the sash, and pulled herself up to the sill. She was ready,, she knew it. She took a deep breath, stepped out into space, and began to fly.
db mcneill’s work has been published in Ranfurly Review and elsewhere, made the top 30 for Glimmertrain’s Short Story Award and won Allegory Ezine honorable mentions. She was awarded a Writing the Other Sentient Squid Scholarship in 2017. She lives in Colorado with a spouse, three sons and some critters