The name was Sunnyside, which was ironic because the tiny window of my room looked north. The sun never shined in and they almost never let me outside. At night, the longing wail of the train woke me up. Sometimes I thought it was my sister calling for help from the grave. If I pressed my face against the far left size of the glass, I could see the edges of old grave stones. One was a giant, crumbling cross made of some sort of white stone. The road across the street was a seemingly deserted county road that turned to dirt about a quarter mile down. The ornamental grass waved at me from the edge of the road. One would think a place called Sunnyside would at least have a garden or a slab of grass outside so I could sit in the sun.
They say I was once an amazing woman. I don’t remember all that. There are pictures of a much younger woman with kids and horses. There’s even one of her in a bridal gown with a groom next to her. His bow tie matched the cyan colored accent flowers of the bride’s boquet perfectly. They say she won awards for biological rsearch. The stories also say she has boxes of ribbons for horse back riding. They say she also won community awards for sitting on the school board and helping create after school programs. I don’t know about all that. But the most interesting part about the stories is they say that woman is me.
People call me, “Mom” and “Grandma.” One would think I’d remember having children, but most days I think they’re just trying to make me feel less lonely in this place. This Sunnyside. I remember because it doesn’t have much sun like the name suggests. The train wakes me up at night so I can press my face against the cold glass window and watch for my sister’s ghost in the cemetary. That girl next door had the television turned up loud when the trail wailed. She was watching National Geographic. The program said tigers are turned in to an elixir that kills almost all health ailments. I do know that is an ancient myth full of holes. There are no reputable, repeatable scientific studies that confirm animal parts cure diseases or make men more fertile. Which is a laughable joke anyways because the Chinese demand tiger penises for fertility, but they aren’t even alowed to produce more than one child. I don’t understand why such a culture needs to be concerned with with fertility.
How long ago did the sun push past the horizon? Today seems long and lonely since the train woke me. The ornamental grass waves, producing a knock on my door. I imagine the creak of the door opening even though my ears can’t hear such aounds anymore. I turn my head to see a pretty, young woman walking into my room.
“Hi, Grandma,” she smiled brightly. “Would you like to help the Horse Camp kids brush the horses ttis morning after tea?”
“I hear there are people hunting tigers there. I don’t thinks it’s safe for kids there, Jaycie.”
“Ellie. It’s Ellie, Grandma. Have you been watching National Geographic with Moira again? There are no tigers here, Grandma. This is your farm in Illinois. The only place we have tigers is where they are locked safely in the zoo.”
“That’s nice, Ellie. Did you say Sunnyside Horse Camp starts today? How could I have forgotten that? I don’t have the lessons prepared.”
“Let’s talk about it over tea and breakfast.”