When Samantha was young, she would always go to her grandmother’s house after dinner. To her, entering it was like entering another world; a smaller, cozier world, with the constant scent of cough drops and perfume and, of course, fresh baked cookies, which they would devour together upon her arrival. Then she and her grandmother would sit down in Samantha’s favorite chair, a rather old, olive green rocking chair. Her grandmother would lean back in the chair and sigh, and Samantha would stare into the old woman’s kind face, her eyes crinkled and her mouth surrounded by smile lines. “Tell me a story, grandma,” Samantha would say in her high-pitched voice, and obligingly, her grandmother would open her mouth, and weave hypnotizing fairy tales, creating images with her voice about adventure and love and loss. The old women’s voice would become that of a wise elder, an ancient sorcerer teaching the ways of the brave princess, of the magical stone, of the terrible dragon. “Tell me more!” Samantha would say, her eyes wide with delight, and immediately, her grandmother would start again, this time mesmerizing Samantha with tales of her father when he was a boy, the pranks he would play, how mischievous he would be. “I see him in you.” Her grandmother would say. Then, the woman would pick up a small box in her frail, bony hands. The box was covered in pictures of elegant ballet dancers. It was smooth and wooden, and had a certain, quiet beauty to it. She would twist the knob, and close her eyes as beautiful, melancholy music echoed out of it, filling the whole room with a sense of peace and love. And the little girl would smile, and her eyes would slowly close, as she was sung to sleep by the mystifying lullaby.
Samantha thought her grandma would always be there, to bake delicious cookies, and soothe her with sweet music, and mesmerize her with all sorts of tales. Until one day she wasn’t. It came as a shock that everything doesn’t last forever. That day when the blood stopped flowing, and the heart stopped pumping felt like the end of the world to young Samantha. The cookies stopped baking, and it seemed as if the stream of stories had halted to an unprecedented pause. But still, as she sat alone in her grandmother’s apartment for the last time, the ghost of the grandmother’s wizened echo repeated itself, and once again the images of heroic figures danced back to life, now living through the precious granddaughter. And, of course, when Samantha twisted the smooth, mahogany knob of the small wooden box, the music box played on too.