I remember with fondness swinging gently in the summer breeze on her porch swing, drinking lemonade and listening to her read me stories.
She always smelt of lavender. She made little pouches for her wardrobe from the rows of plants lining her front path.
When I said good-bye before leaving for university – she held me tightly and asked me to write. I did send her letters and she always wrote back in her spidery scrawl accompanied by a jar of homemade jam or a cake or some other delight.
Once I had completed my literary degree, I dreamed of owning a bookshop but worked in one instead.
When I last visited Aunt Edna it was in hospital. She was very frail but her face lit up when she saw me. Our bond was still as strong as ever. I read to her as she had done for me when I was young. We shared a deep love of books.
After her death, I was surprised to hear she had left me an inheritance. It would be something small I’m sure – she didn’t have much. Her house had been sold by her nieces – the money divided.
So when I was told that she had left me a property I was shocked. When did Aunt own a shop? Most of the family had no idea she had this place but Aunt Mildred did whisper that Edna had kept it secret for a reason – me! She knew I would treasure the place.
After all the legal details had been completed, I was handed a large ornate key and an address. Now to find this place – what could it hold?
Turning into the small lane, I am met with a sandy storefront with a faded red door. The bay window has panes of glass covered in years of grime. It is impossible to see into the interior.
Bravely unlocking the door, my senses are assaulted by a musty, dank smell. As I enter dust swirls around me – obviously no one has set foot in here for a very long time.
Flicking the light switch a dim glow appears from a naked bulb in the centre of the ceiling. Large dustsheets hang all around me. Careful to pull them slowly I reveal sturdy oak shelves, a counter top and several tables.
This is exactly how I dreamed my bookshop would look – it is as though Aunty had seen my dreams.
As instructed I open the old manila envelope I was presented with – I was only allowed to open it here.
I gaze at the letter in my Aunt’s familiar scrawl – she has left me not only the store but also a thousand books. For safekeeping and preservation, they have been stored in a special facility so they do not deteriorate.
My dream was never this wonderful and I thank my Aunt – she surely is my guardian angel. I will name my store in her memory – Edna’s Books.