19 November 2008

jack henry

lily sits on a wooden chair
jack henry

Lily feels alone within each waking moment and each fading dream. she sits in a green wooden chair. watches cars go by. little children too. sometimes she smiles, as if remembering; mostly she just stays still.

on Wednesdays her daughter comes by. she combs Lily’s hair, tells her about the family, her grandchildren, her son-in-law. how little jimmy broke his foot playing soc-cer, how little Sarah lost her last baby tooth, how her husband is a cheating bas-tard but at least he makes a good living and allows the family to buy things they don’t really need. i should leave him, the woman says sometimes. Lily doesn’t really hear her. i don’t think i love him, the woman says more often. Lily’s daughter is having an affair with a man that works out of his house, but she said that only once, in a whisper. Lily heard that and smiled.

Lily married only once but her husband died sudden of a heart attack while they were in Coos Bay, Oregon on vacation. he was 57, she was 26. he left her a wealthy woman, in need of nothing, but she doesn’t remem-ber much of that. she never loved the man, but he was kind and never cheated. that made Lily smile.

every day the Filipino nurses tend to her. Lily doesn’t have many needs. she still has enough wits about her to not soil herself, to pick up a fork and knife, to brush her teeth and shower. those things she remembers.

after lunch Lily sits on a green wooden chair, watches the trees move with the af-ternoon wind. dogs walk unattended. the postman waves hello. sometimes a tall man with thick gray hair will come into her room, sit next to her on a blue wooden chair. he has a nice smile. they are nearly the same age but he doesn’t live at the home with Lily. she does not know him but he feels familiar.

he tells her stories about a couple that spent many years together, traveling the world, each day an adventure. the woman has the same name as Lily, and each day the story seems new. Lily always smiles, she likes the man’s voice. she doesn’t know him, but she tries.

in late December the man stopped coming by her room. Lily sat in the green chair, watching snowfall. she stopped smiling. on Christmas Eve she stared at the empty blue chair and remembered everything; the moment she met the man, to his last visit at the home. Lily stood and touched the back of the blue chair and smiled, a single tear drifting down her cheek. she saw her reflection in the glass picture window. a young woman in her mid-20s, very thin, full figure, delicate smile and a young man with a full head of brown hair holding her hand.

Lily lay down in the bed, pulled her covers to her chin, the smile now permanent to her face. when the nurses came by with Christmas morning breakfast they found Lily’s body. The two chairs, the green one and the blue one, were pushed together, as if lovers were sitting in them. A smile re-mained on Lily’s face, no longer alone.

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