She smiled standing in her friend’s room. It was one hundred percent Rosie Chastain, appearing light and delicate, but held up by a solid sturdy foundation.
The ninety-year-old high-back rocking chair still sat in the corner. Made from thick oak by Rosie’s Uncle Preston, with pale pink cushions hand-sewn by his wife, Delia, it was Rosie’s special place. Whenever she had to sit and think about something, pray over something or someone, or collect her thoughts after a bad day, Rosie sat in the rocker.
Ana ran her hand over the smooth, glossy wood.
Next to the rocker was a massive nine-drawer dresser. Ana wasn’t sure what tree the dresser’s wood came from, but she remembered hearing workmen swear at the dresser’s weight when Rosie bought new carpeting and it had to be moved.
She opened drawers, not surprised at the order and neatness. Ana walked into the closet and was overwhelmed with memories of Rosie. The scent of the light jasmine and amber cologne Rosie loved was still in the air. Nurse’s uniforms, surgical scrubs, and lab coats took up a full third of the closet. Ana looked through the dress clothes, smiling at her friend’s love of silk.
She walked out of the closet and stood next to the large four-poster bed. Like the dresser, the bed was made from real wood and took four men to move it.
Sitting on the side of the bed, Analeigh buried her face in her hands.
Rosie was gone and now she had to get rid of these precious things.
Jeff told her to leave anything she didn’t want in the house and the auction company would include it in their inventory and sale.
Ana didn’t think she could part with the bedroom furniture. She had no space for it in her modest two-bedroom condo back in Columbus, but these were the pieces Rosie loved and cherished most and they were important to Ana too. She would find premium movers and storage until she made decisions about her future.
Ana reached for her notepad and realized it was on the kitchen counter.
Headed for the kitchen, Ana stopped when she saw something behind the bedroom door. She closed the door to find a dark leather ottoman. It was large and square… and Ana had never seen it before.
Rosie must have bought it after Ana left Corwin.
She knelt for a closer look and saw the tiny brass hinges. Ana raised the ottoman’s lid and clutched her chest with a raspy gasp.
Her eyes filled with tears as she reached into the ottoman to retrieve the treasure.
Sitting on the floor, Ana hugged the one hundred percent Merino wool afghan. She rubbed her chin and cheek against it, incredulous it was still as baby soft as the day she and Rosie completed it.
She was right.
Ana was thrilled when Rosie presented her with the bulky snow-white yarn. She watched the accompanying video four times over two days before she would even consider beginning her project.
On the third day, Rosie laughed as a giddy Ana dumped the first bag of yarn on the dining room table.
A small piece of paper clung to one of the skeins. Ana picked it up and read it. Her mouth gaped open as she backed away from the table.
“What’s wrong, Analeigh?”
Shaking her head, Ana opened her mouth to speak but the words didn’t come.
“Analeigh? What’s wrong, honey? You okay?”
Rosie took a step towards her, but Ana threw up her hands, the slip of paper clutched in her fist.
“You spent almost five-hundred dollars on yarn? For me? Rosie that’s crazy. You have to take it back.”
“Is that what has you so upset? The cost of the yarn?” Rosie waved her off. “The cost is not important, sweetie. The look in your eyes and the smile on your face is what matters. The sense of accomplishment you’ll have at trying something new… being creative, that’s how we grow. Accepting challenges. Now, calm down and let’s get-”
“No, Rosie. You have to take it back.”
“Stop talking nonsense, child. I’ll do no such thing. And haven’t I taught you it is rude to refuse a gift?”
Ana walked over to Rosie, lifted one of her hands and placed the receipt in it.
“Yes, you did, Rosie, but this is too much. I’m not worth it.”
Rage erupted in Rosie and her tawny brown skin glowed as heat suffused her body. She crumpled the receipt in her hand and stalked around the table. Her arms flailed, and her gaze darted around the room.
Analeigh Sellers took a step back, afraid Rosie would send her away and not be her friend anymore.
“I’m sorry, Rosie.”
The wiry old woman rushed to Ana, grabbing and clutching her to her chest.
The teen didn’t understand, but held on, not wanting to be sent away. When Rosie pulled back, Ana saw her face was wet with tears.
“What’s wrong, Rosie?”
She smoothed Ana’s hair down and cupped her cheeks in her hands.
“Some folks think the worst way to hurt a child is physically… beat on them, smack them around. But, sweetie, what’s been done to you is just as bad… worse in some ways.”
“I don’t understand.”
Rosie Chastain tilted her head toward the table.
“Child, if I spent ten-thousand-dollars on that yarn it was worth it to me to see you smile because you are worth it. You are important to me. You matter.”
Ana opened her mouth to argue, but Rosie stopped her.
“You can’t put a price on people, Analeigh, everyone has value. Everyone matters because they are here… alive. There isn’t one of us who is better or more worthy than anyone else. I know that to be true. I’ve seen a lot in almost seventy years on this earth, but I’ve never come across a person who was better than anyone else.”
Pain mixed with the confusion on Ana’s face and she looked away.
Rosie gently turned her head back to see her eyes.
“Child, I could tell you how special and worthy you are all day long, but it don’t mean nothing if you don’t believe it yourself.”
~ ~ ~
Ana wiped her eyes remembering that day. It took a little more time, but she soon learned to walk with her head held high. Because of Rosie Chastain.
On the last day, Ana locked the final stitch and the women complimented each other as they admired their handiwork.
“We’re pretty good, huh?”
“Child, you could sell this for twice what the yarn cost.”
“No way. I’ll never sell it.”
“Does my old heart good to hear that.”
Rosie ran her hand over the blanket.
“Just a month ago, this was piles of yarn, no shape or form, sitting on the store shelves waiting to be purchased. I bought the yarn and you, Analeigh, studied the process. You decided on a pattern and we worked together, keeping the blanket uniform…no loose ends. And now we have this beautiful creation.”
Ana admired her handiwork until she realized Rosie stopped speaking. She glanced in her direction only to find Rosie’s eyes locked on her.
“This blanket is you, Analeigh.”
Ana’s brow knitted in confusion.
“Your young life here… in this town, was just a pile of loose ends. No one tried to give you structure and guidance. They just grabbed a loose end and pulled. But you’re growing into a beautiful young woman and forging your own structure without anyone’s guidance. You’ve got the pattern, Analeigh, time to make your own creation.”
“If I did any of those things, Rosie, it’s because of you.”
“Oh, no, child. I was the shelter from the storm. We all need one sometimes, and we all act as one. You’ll be someone’s shelter one day too so they can have the opportunity to figure it all out. That’s all I did for you.”
“No, Rosie… it’s not. You gave me structure and guidance. And love. And Rosie you saved my life.”
Ana gathered the ends of the snow-white afghan and placed them in Rosie’s hands.
“That’s why I want you to have this.”
The bond between the two friends was cemented that day. Ana knew she would leave Corwin and its suffocating judgment behind. Leaving Rosie Chastain wasn’t an option.
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