Woman tells me hurry, links her arm through mine and pulls. I step, one foot, then the other. She tugs again as we pass the nurse station. I wave. Nurse waves back and says enjoy, Mr. Ray.
Woman smiles and says you will like this. I think I know her. I know the smell, that lavender sweetness. I stop. She turns to face me. I open my mouth and my tongue pushes against my teeth. “Laa.” Nothing more comes. She points to her throat and tells me to try again. I say “Laaa.” She tells me it’s o.k., let’s keep going, the time is short. I think I know her.
She says open and a buzz sounds. She pushes the door that chimes, the one that opens for her. Glorious sun enwraps us, warm on my face. She smiles warm, too, and I remember her. I lift the veil and her lips are on mine. A yellow zephyr flutters by us and she laughs. I remember her laugh and champagne bubbles up my nose and in my eyes. I wipe them away.
She takes my hand and tells me come and see, be careful on the garden path, the stones are rough, don’t fall. I step, one foot, the next. She asks if I saw the towhee dart to the pine. I nod. She says listen and I hear its long shrill. I remember sweet tweet, nests under the deck, the feeders, hungry birds.
I squeeze her hand. She looks at me. I press my lips to form “B”, nothing comes. She says birds, yes, we had many birds. She says we had many things and turns away. She turns back. She touches my cheek and says we have now. I remember dancing, her hand on my neck.
She points and says here, look, see it! Orange-throated daylily stands blossoming tall. Beautiful. I look at her. Beautiful. She puts her arm around my neck and lays her head on my shoulder. She stoops to pick up a faded, spent blossom and takes my hand. She says it’s time to go.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story: Nutshell Narratives 2019-04