Scent Notes: Soothing chamomile tea, with a touch of lemon, spearmint, and a drop of honey.

It was a beautiful June day: the sun was shining, a light breeze ruffled the leaves of the tall oak trees in the backyard where Pearl sat in her wheelchair in the shade. Butterflies flitted about the garden. She watched with delight as her four grandkids, two girls and two boys between the ages of 6-11, ran around the yard, alternating between the swing set, the trampoline, and the pop-up tent they were calling the “home fort.” Pearl’s daughter Olivia sat in a teak chair to Pearl’s right. A small table sat between them, and on it rested a mug of chamomile tea, Pearl’s favorite drink. Olivia was drinking something she called a “Mom-garita,” but Pearl was fairly certain it was just tequila over ice.

Pearl felt her right leg twitch and spasm; that leg had never fully healed and was the reason she’d ended up in the wheelchair after that tumble she’d taken a few years back. Olivia looked over. “You okay, mom? Need me to get anything?” Pearl nodded and said, “Can you gather up all these children? I want to tell them the most fabulous story.” Olivia rolled her eyes. “Gonna tell them about your wild adventures? C’mon mom, nobody believes that stuff! You were a stay-at-home mom with three kids. You didn’t go around the world chasing danger.” Pearl nodded again. “No, you’re right; it’s just a fun story for the kids! Don’t you think they’ll get a kick out of it?” Olivia sighed and shouted, “Hey, children! Come over here, grandma Pearl wants to tell you more of her adventure stories.” It was perfect timing as one of the girls had just shoved one of the boys down into the garden dirt, and the other boy was doing some dangerous-looking stunts on the trampoline as the littlest girl sat in the fort, hiding from her older, more destructive siblings.

Olivia made the kids sit in a horseshoe at her mother’s feet, then excused herself by going to make a fresh pot of chamomile tea for Pearl. As she walked to the house, Olivia shook her head and smiled, sadly. Her mother had such grand stories that were totally implausible: trips to Europe and South America looking for artifacts and antiques with dangerous people following her, even trying to kill her! There was absolutely no evidence that any of these things had happened; but, Pearl was old. She was living with Olivia and the kids now, in a small bedroom suite on the first floor. Olivia walked inside, set the teapot in the kitchen, and put the kettle on. She looked out the window and saw the kids enraptured by Pearl’s story, sitting straight up as Pearl talked animatedly, seeming more alive than she had in years. Olivia was saddened. Is this what happens in life? You get old, make up stories, and have to live with your kid and their kids for the rest of your days? There was a strange beauty in it, she supposed.

Olivia walked across the kitchen and to the door of her mother’s room. She walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at the old family photos Pearl had displayed on the nightstand and dresser. Such gorgeous vintage photographs: her mother and father as young lovers on the beach somewhere; their wedding day; a professional portrait of the whole extended family that Olivia had paid for shortly before her father had passed. Olivia had always been a daddy’s girl; she admired her father and the brave, adventurous nature that nobody had been able to fully tame. She stood up to leave and stubbed her toe, hard, on something under the bed. After yelping out a string of curse words, she got down on the floor to pull out whatever the offending case was. It was a large leather briefcase she’d never seen before. In pain and intrigued, she set it down and opened it up. Inside were letters, old photos, and an incredibly-expensive looking locket, with what appeared to be a coat of arms engraved upon it. She picked it up to admire it, and then heard the kettle screaming in the kitchen. More curse words as she scrambled to her feet and into the kitchen.

She quickly shoved the locket in the front pocket of her jeans, preparing the tea to the exacting standards her mother had always preferred. She put the teapot and some snacks for the kids on a tray and headed outside. Nobody seemed to notice as she walked across the yard, the children enraptured by their grandmother and Olivia glowing while she finished up her story. “And that, children,” Olivia heard as she set down the tray, “is how I saved the Queen Mother, and how I learned to make chamomile tea.” There was a soft thump as the locket fell out onto the ground from the pocket where Olivia had hastily shoved it. Pearl looked down at the ground, saw the locket, and looked up at her daughter with shining eyes. Olivia was aghast. She opened her mouth to say something, but Pearl just slightly shook her head and winked as the children grabbed for snacks, yelling, “Grandma! That’s amazing!” “Tell us another story, Grandma Pearl!”

Scent Notes: Soothing chamomile tea, with a touch of lemon, spearmint, and a drop of honey.