The damp air assumed the color of periwinkle on my sweaty arms as the moon came from the cumulus like an angry despot, a wisp of cloud appearing like a mustache on its solemn surface. The gently rising hill upon which my steps carried me was covered with freshly mown grass that gave off a delicious smell of watermelon. I stopped at the top of the hill and breathed deeply the olfactory delight, the big house now in view, some three hundred yards down this hill and up another, big centuries-old maple trees dotting its perimeter.
For a moment, the lights in the big house seemed to twinkle for me, perchance a welcome home endearment, but, then, my errand of mercy had only taken me three hours although it seemed much longer. The car would not start. The cell phone would not work. I didn’t want to walk along the highway at night, so, to the rolling hills. We were alarmed and nervous about our cat, Joey. We were afraid we might be losing him as he seemed unable to move about without falling and regurgitating.
The vet was one mile away, and I decided to carry Joey to the vet’s office. Someone was at their small hospital facility at all times. Joey was of petite build and not heavy in his carrier. Laura, the nice lady vet, gave Joey a quick check and decided it was best to leave him there for a day or two to allow for thorough testing and treatment. She indicated his ‘vitals’ were showing satisfactory readings, but she wanted to be certain it was nothing more than a bad morsel Joey decided to ingest.
If the light from the moon was not deceiving me and my old failing eyes could be trusted, Heather was there on the porch waving me on. Waving back, I smiled, and tears slowly passed through the whiskery wrinkles on my cheeks and dropped to mix with the ground dew. It was rather common these days to shed tears in my desperate moments when harsh realities hit and confounded the order and sequences of living. I slowed my pace to give the tears their time to flow before I reached Heather, conjuring up thoughts that were mundane and easy to indulge and toss away.
There was something unrevealed to Heather which, as fate would have it, coincided with Joey’s sudden ailment. Perhaps the lovable cat sensed the secret. My days of doubting ‘cat lore’ and labeling mysteries of the world’s tomfoolery were long gone. Our family doctor gave me his diagnosis of my frequent headaches after EEG test-runs and consultation with a neurologist specialist. It was an inoperable tumor, now the size of a large marble but growing in size steadily. Was there a chance the tumor might just dissolve, just miraculously melt into nothing and its residue get lost in the nerve messages sent via neuronal activities? Doctor Spaulding’s only response to my queries was: “Miracles happen in the Medical field all the time, Jimmy, but take the medication I’ve prescribed to slow the tumor’s growth and we’ll keep a watchful eye. Other scans and tests were subsequently performed and diagnosed. The rendering was the same. The doctor said Heather should know, but I swore him to secrecy. This was my fight alone, and she was not to be part.
The nearer to the porch I walked, Heather’s beautiful smile and the love that shone in her eyes made me quake inside and the tears came again. I managed a smile to go with the tears but she saw the distress behind my quivering lips and ran down the steps to meet me.
“Oh, we lost Joey, Jimmy?” She wrapped her arms around me and was sure Joey was gone.
“No, no, sweetheart, Doc Laura is just keeping him over for some tests. Joey’s tough! He’ll be up and around in no time.”
As I talked she pulled back and eyed me carefully.
“Why are you crying, Jimmy? Tell me, please!”
“Ah, come on, I just saw you there and the moment got to me. That’s all, honey, really. I’ve been gone for three hours and I missed you. Can’t I miss my wife?”
“Of course, you can – and, better, for that matter!” She smiled again, grabbed my arm and led me up the porch steps and into the house.
I was suddenly and unaccountably happy and unafraid of dying. Heather was with me! That was all that truly mattered to me. After all, dying is part of our living, a moment in time each of us must face. So, I pushed aside those moments of anxiety and weakness. I regaled in thoughts of all those moments yet left to me with Heather.
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – July 30, 2018
Please preview my books at:
Please follow my blog at:
Follow me on: