I try to put a new short fiction on my webpage at the end of each month. For August, I’d already done the five part experiment for POV, so I decided to keep this story short–very short. More like flash fiction.
I just finished the romance I’ve been working on, and it put me in a happy, gooey mood–unusual for me. And it made me want to write a different kind of romance, not the fresh ups and downs of new love, but the enduring comfort of knowing someone for a long time. It’s on my webpage (in the left column under Loretta), but it’s so short, I thought I’d just stick it here:
A Mill Pond Romance of a Different Sort
Mom was having another bad day. I turned her every morning and every night, like the doctor told me, but she was still getting a bed sore on her bottom. I noticed it when I changed her diaper before breakfast. Her skin was so thin, her body so fragile.
After I fed her, I plumped her pillow and put her favorite musical in the DVD player. We talked while I started a roast in the Crock Pot and straightened up the house. Noah came over in the afternoon and lifted her into her wheel chair, so I could push her onto the front porch, and the three of us could sit outside, inhaling the freshness of a mild spring. A breeze drifted off of Mill Pond’s lake, and two ducks flew overhead. Mom usually noticed, commented. Today, she didn’t.
I sat on the porch swing with Mom’s chair pulled close beside me. Noah sat in the rocker across from us. He took a sip of the lemonade I’d brought him, sat the glass on the wicker table, then wiped his hands on his worn jeans.
“It was mighty nice of you to invite me over for supper tonight, Loretta,” he said.
“Without your help, I couldn’t get Mom in and out of bed.” I reached across to pat his knee. “Supper’s a small thanks for all you do for us.”
“I’d help you anyway. You know that.” He would, too. There was no more thoughtful man than my neighbor. After he’d lost his wife four years ago, I’d taken to having him come for supper. When he retired two years ago, he’d taken to helping me with Mom. Just having him around, in the house, gave me a sense of comfort. We often sat on the porch on warm afternoons, enjoying a midday break.
I raised my voice so Mom could hear me. “The daffodils you planted sure look pretty this year.” They bobbed their heads in the flower bed nestled under the pink crabapple tree.
Mom glanced their way and nodded. She shivered a little, and I pulled the blanket higher on her lap and buttoned her heavy sweater. Then she raised her arm and pointed to the end of the sidewalk. In a shaky voice, she said, “Look, Loretta. Lou got out of work early.” Her lips curled in a smile. “What are you doin’ home so soon, hon?”
I exchanged a glance with Noah. My dad had passed twenty years ago. Up ‘til now, Mom’s body had failed her, but her mind was sharp. I’d considered that a blessing. I reached over to touch her. “Are you doin’ okay?”
Mom gave a peaceful sigh. “I’m tired. I need to rest. Your dad and I are taking a trip soon.”
Goosebumps rose on my arms. When I stood, Noah rolled Mom’s wheel chair back inside the house, and I helped him get her into bed, then fiddled with her blankets and pillows until she was comfortable. She closed her eyes briefly, then blinked them open. She reached out and patted Noah. “Lou gave you his approval. You and Loretta will make each other happy.” Then she shooed us out of her room.
Noah looked at me and blinked. I felt restless, not sure what to think, how to feel. I went to the kitchen and pulled my apron over my head. “I’m in the mood for a pie.”
Dad had always loved lemon meringue pie. I found myself rolling out dough and whipping egg whites. Noah stirred the lemon filling. After we took the pie out of the oven and placed it on the wide window ledge to cool, we went to check on Mom.
I knew she was gone the minute I looked at her. A body isn’t the same once the soul leaves it. I remembered staring down at Dad in his coffin. A body, nothing more.
Noah came to stand beside me and reached for my hand. We stood there, looking down at her, and a ray of sunshine burst through the window, engulfing us in light. Noah gave my fingers a squeeze. “I’m glad your dad approves.”
I smiled. Mom and Dad would be happy now, and so would Noah and I.
(I have two other short Mill Pond romances on my webpage, if you’re interested. http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/)