This weeks excerpt is from the short story, "Yesterday's Children."
Lynette was on all fours scouring the kitchen linoleum when Will arrived home from work.
After scrutinizing Lynette’s excessive scrubbing he asked,“So, what did the doctor say, it’s not good news is it?”
Lynette shook her head.
Will held Lynette’s arms and helped her to her feet. She laid her head against Will’s chest as he massaged her back. “There’s nothing more they can do. It’s just a matter of making him comfortable.”
Will held Lynette’s shoulders and moved her back, so he could look into her eyes. “Baby, I am so sorry, but I’m sure the Hospice Center will see to it that he doesn’t suffer.”
“He’s not in the Hospice. He’s right in there.” She pointed to the guest room down the hall.
Will lowered his voice to a whisper. “I know how much you love your father, but you can’t possibly take care of him here. What are you thinking?”
“I wanted him to be somewhere familiar and comfortable. He grew up in this house, in this neighborhood. Isn’t it fitting that he spends what time he has left here?”
Will kissed Lynette on the forehead. “I suppose you’re right, but promise me you won’t take on more than you can handle.”
The next morning Lynette went in to check on her father. She paused for a moment and took a deep breath. He’s not going to see me cry. “Good morning, Dad.” He didn’t respond, but she kept talking. “I bet you'd like some fresh air, huh? I know how much you enjoy spring.” She opened the window beside his bed. The white sheer curtains fluttered in the breeze.
“Lilacs,” Richard mumbled.
Lynette walked over to his bedside, stroked his thin, gray hair, and managed a smile “Yes,there is a hint of lilac in the air this morning. I’ll be right back with some breakfast.”
She raised the head of his bed and left the room, gently pulling the door shut behind her.
Richard closed his eyes and inhaled the sweet aroma of his childhood. He heard someone outside calling his name. Straining to see out, he caught a glimpse of a little boy.
The little boy sneezed and wiped his nose on his sleeve. “Darn lilacs always make me sneeze.”
“Ronnie, is that you?”
Lynette pushed the door open with the tray in her hands.“Dad, were you talking to someone?”
His lumpy arthritic finger trembled as he pointed out the window. “Ronnie . . . he was right out there.”
“Uncle Ronnie died three years ago. Remember?” She placed the tray in front of her father. “You were probably having a dream. When I left the room, you were a still a bit groggy.”
Richard stared out the window. “He sneezed. He was allergic to lilacs.”
“Okay Dad. Have some breakfast, take your medicine, and maybe you should try getting some
Richard’s wrinkled hands trembled. He dropped his spoon, so Lynette fed him and gave him his pills. “Get some rest. I’ll come back and check on you in a little while.” After taking the pills,
Richard dozed off. A few moments later, music from an ice cream truck woke him. Again, he heard his brother outside.
“Richie, you missed the ice-cream truck and the baseball game. Come out and play.” Richard glanced out the window. Ronnie sat in the old tire swing, eating a fudge bar. As it melted, it ran down his soiled hands.
“Ronnie, I want to come out and play.” Tears filled Richard’s eyes.” How’d you get to be a kid again?
“Remember what Dad always said? You’re only as young as you feel.”
Lynette rushed into the room. “Are you all right? I thought I heard you yell.”
“Ronnie was out there again.” Richard struggled to sit upright, but didn’t have the strength.