Secrets and light
It sat on a small table by the window. To catch the sun's rays, Granny always said.
Lily was never allowed to touch it. It holds all our secrets, love. Better they stay in there. Lily knew she didn't want Granny to know it was she who had eaten the last cookie, or who had crushed Granny's herbal plants chasing butterflies...so she kept her distance.
But she would spend long sunmer hours lost in the stained glass swirls that seemed to slide across the wall on beams of sunlight. Laying on the elderwood oak floor, she would hold her hands up and marvel at the way the colors created patterns of slithering snakes or burgeoning butterflies or, once, a phoenix rising. She would entertain herself with stories about the fairies caught inside whose effervescent wings created the colorful designs that so delighted her. And whose magic kept their secrets safe.
Sometimes Granny would listen to Lily's stories. She even made her crowns of flowers and wings of leaves so she could be the princess fairy of her dreams as she danced in the light of the jar. Some days she'd tell her own. As they pulled weeds or Granny baked, she would enthrall Lily with tales of beautiful little creatures in the woods that granted wishes to the foolish, stole pretty little girls for their own, whose wings could sing as they flitted amongst the flowers, sipping the colors, absorbing the light. Who lived forever. Lily hung on every word.
Until she didn't.
As she got older, she visited Granny less, until she stopped going at all. She forgot about those forays into a world of light and magic. And secrets.
Until her mom called to let her know Granny had passed and asked could she come for the funeral. You were always her favorite, darling.
After the funeral, they all went back to Granny's house at the edge of the woods to eat and grieve. As Lily sat in the living room, mourning the years she had let slip by without visiting, she felt her eyes drawn to the table by the window. Her eyes widened as a surfeit of memories overwhelmed her. Someone's young daughter was reaching out to touch the jar. The jar. She was across the room before she could think, picking up the curious child.
Mustn't touch the jar, love, she whispered. It holds all our secrets. Best to leave them there. Okay?
Looking down at the little girl, Lily froze at the kaleidoscope of colors swirling in her eyes.
Too late, the child replied in a singsong voice not her own.
Lily slid to the floor. Before she lost consciousness, she heard Granny's voice, tinged with sadness. I had always hoped it would be you....