I cannot remember the last time that I saw her. I don’t remember much these days, but I do remember those eyes, those beautiful eyes. I look up into them from my chair, my wife? My daughter? My granddaughter?
She kisses my cheek and makes her way to the chair across from me. She says, “How are you feeling today?” The table is small, the room relatively quiet. A few others have visitors, but the day seems hushed.
I am surprisingly well this day, very lucid, but I don’t want to get her hopes up. Janice? Amy? Haylie? Which could it be?
I smile, but my face seems to reject the effort.
I finally say, “I am feeling well, Haylie.”
The smile which returns mine fills me with a joy that brings tears to my eyes. She reaches out to me and says, “Oh I love you Gramps.”
She hugs me and squeezes me a little too tight, just as I did when she was much younger. Her perfume is light, breezy, so different from the scents of my day. I remember when she was born; I remember so much of her early years.
I wonder how much of those memories are of my own Amy.
These moments of clarity fill me with dread; I know they will not last forever. My soul aches with the pain and loss, which harbors just beyond the reaches of my mind. I wipe at the tears in my eyes. Haylie does the same, “I am sorry Haylie, these moments don’t happen often enough.”
She squeezes my hand in hers. I don’t want this moment to ever end.
She says, “May I ask you something?”
“Of course, darling.”
Nervousness nearly overcomes her. “Do you remember the times that are unclear? Do you remember what it is like to not know?” Her words are choppy for fear that she has gone too far. She hasn’t; I often wonder the same thing.
I look into her soft eyes. You can see goodness in her, “I guess it is like looking through at the memories. I can think back on those memories, but they seem vague as though I was truly not there at the time.”
“You know they are working so hard for a cure and better therapies. One of these days, you’ll be better all of the time.”
I can see the pain in her face and the tears on her cheeks.
I squeeze her hand again; she always comes with such hope. The hope of the young, the hope of a restless heart. I whisper, “May I ask you a question?”
She nods, though I can see fear in her eyes, and that fear at least partly answers my question. “How are your mom and your grandmother?”
I pray they still live. I pray they have escaped this horrid disease and are home listening to the sound of rain from the back porch. I pray they watch the sunset.
I wonder how long I have been here, though that is a question I cannot bring myself to ask.
She pulls her chair around the table and puts her arm around my thin shoulders. “Mom is great; she married Daniel a few months ago. They have something special; you know her and my dad never got along.”
I nod; they never did. He was an okay guy; they just never should have been together.
Haylie’s eyes are full of worry, a worry that tells me she almost wishes I would fall into confusion just so she doesn’t have to tell me about my wife. I take a deep breath, and though it takes everything I have, I don’t force her to.
I lean closer to her and say, “Listen, I gotta tell you something.” She looks at me like I have lost it, “you know, that old bag with the bluish hair?”
She looks over and sees the lady I am referring to. I sigh as though I am in misery, “Well, she thinks I am hot, told me so the other day. Can’t stand to be away from me for more than an hour.” Haylie giggles, so I continue, “You know what I said back to her?”
“What did you say?”
“I said, ‘I know I am baby!’” I yell this out a little too loud, and we both fall into fits of laughter until mine ends in a coughing fit.
Damn, I am getting too old to laugh.
I scoot my chair closer and look into her eyes. I feel a little fuzzy, and I don’t want to lose this chance. “You know it means so much to me that you still visit. I know I am not always myself, so I couldn’t blame you if you stopped.”
Tears come to her eyes so quickly that it seems they were there all along. She whispers, “I am having a baby, Grandpa. I will never stop coming to see you; I will bring my daughter to see you, and she will love you just as we all do.”
I hold her in my arms, and my mind swims. I am so happy for her. I think I manage to say so, but I am falling. I pull away from her and say, “I love you honey, but I think I need a little rest.”
She understands; she smiles and kisses me softly on the cheek. “I love you Gramps, I will be back soon.”
She stands and walks towards the door. I whisper, “I love you too, Amy.”
Or was it Janice?
Edward Turner III has been published at , the Florence Recorder, and Horror Garage, along with other places.