Like any decent grandchild, I loved my grandmother. She made me cookies, I weeded her gardens, and then we’d sit around eating cookies and watching game shows. I liked to visit her as often as I could growing up, but it wasn’t always easy. Every time we crossed the river, the family got smaller.
We had often talked about bringing her over the river to stay permanently. The river was brutal, but it was fast. Like ripping off a bandage or chopping off a limb. You had to be quick if you wanted to survive.
The forest, though, was a nightmare. It wasn’t as lethal, but the amount of work it took to get through would probably be the death of her. She was a lovely, hardy old woman who would probably outlive her kids, but the march through the trees would have been too much for her.
At this point, I was the only one who made the effort to visit her. My parents weren’t as hardy as she was and they were getting up in years. My siblings had mostly settled down, refusing to travel beyond our little village for anything. They tried to pretend otherwise, but I knew they were afraid. I could see it in the way they clutched their doors and herded their children away when I visited.
I’d made the trip only once before, and that was with a hired escort. Today, I was going to do it alone, even if I was too broke to hire anyone. She hadn’t written in weeks and someone needed to check, the dangers be damned. I could do it. I knew that, if it was at all possible to do alone, I could make the trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.