This is an entry in the latest off season mini-challenge.
The eighty-four-year-old hand wipes crumbs off the cold flat dining room table that are not there. Clyde gazes at his palm knowing he is moving his hand just because he needs something to do.
His daughter, Jan, and son-in law, Ted, were the last to leave; looking at his watch he realizes, “They haven’t arrived home yet.”
Leaning to his right Clyde pulls his wallet out of his left rear pocket and with trembling hands retrieves an old piece of paper. Unfolding the paper, he reads the last two lines of a letter written more than six decades ago. “You are my man. I am with you until the end. Your failures and successes, I love you no matter what. Millie.” The old man rises from the table.
Examining the dozens of pictures on the living room wall, Clyde sees an assortment of photos and a few paint by numbers that Millie had done over the years. Pulling down a painting of an apple he mutters, “I never liked this one much.” With the frame now empty he places the letter in the frame and hangs it on the wall. As he now reads the letter in its entirety, the old hand wipes some real tears off the rugged old face.
Clyde walks down the hallway, which for the first time seems endless. The first thing he sees upon opining the closest is Millie’s purple dress. Feeling it’s soft fabric; he wipes yet another tear, he says, “This was my favorite, you looked so good in purple. I buried you in your green dress. You liked that one. The green did match your eyes.”
Clyde soon falls off to sleep, alone, for the first time since World War II.
“Honey, you did an excellent job. I could not have planed it better myself.”
“I just did what I thought you would do. That’s why you got to wear your green dress instead of the purple one.”
“Whichever one you wanted would have been fine with me. I was able to see Jan and Ted being the last ones to leave.”
“Yeah, Jan always was a daddy’s girl. I think she would have moved in after you died if I had let her.”
“Do you think any of the kids will move into the house now that you are gone?”
“No. They will just sell the place. Whom do you think will find me?”
“It’s going to be Jan, remember she is daddy’s girl. Let’s watch and see.”
After several calls with no answer; Jan rushes over to the house to check on Dad. She discovers Clyde’s body in his bed less than twenty-four hours after his wife’s funeral.
Reread this today. I was accidently shot in April of 2008. Fully recovered. My wife and I are so much closer so this story has even more meaning now. We've often talked about how bad it would be for one of us not to be there. Thanks.