Faith slows her car to a stop at the end of the road leading to the farmhouse she grew up in. She had loved walking up that road after school, with the trees lining it and filling it with shade, only letting the softest rays of sunshine hit the gravel. The school bus would drop Faith and her sister Hope in the very spot she was now parked, right beside the cow shaped mailbox that her father had made long ago. He had said it was because they had dairy cows on their farm, so they should have a dairy cow mailbox. The logic had never made much sense to Faith. The mailbox looked ridiculous to her as a teenager and now it just looked sad and old. But, there was something romantic to her about walking up the road, so would always volunteer to go check for mail in the cow’s rear end. She didn’t love much about growing up in that house, but she did love the road that led to it.
Faith gets out of her car and stands beside the cow-box. She’ll come back for the car, she decides and begins walking her favourite path. It looks the same as it always did, but she feels the empty feeling she has had for the past few days seeping in between the trees along with the sun.
It is funny what one remembers about a place. For Faith, it is this path and the smell of vanilla. That smell always brings her back home, despite the more powerful smells that come along with growing up on a farm. But her Mama loved the smell of vanilla and always kept little bowls of potpourri scattered around the house. And her vanilla shortbread cookies were practiced to perfection. The smell often greeted Faith and her sister as they arrived home after school. Nearing the front door Faith smells that same familiar scent of cookies fresh from the oven. She must be imagining it. She is here for her mother’s funeral.
It takes her a few minutes with her hand on the doorknob to work up the courage to push it open. When she finally manages it, Faith walks in to find Hope pulling the second tray of vanilla shortbread out of the oven with tears streaming down her face.
“Faith?” Hope looks up holding the tray helplessly in her oven mitted hands. “I miss her so much.”