Here sits a man, alone but not forgotten, in an old wooden chair at the head of the bed. His wife lies on the bed, eyes closed and still. He picks up her hand, his own hand trembling, and rubs the back of it with his thumb. A tear falls and slides down their joint palms; another soon follows.
As the man sits, he talks to his wife.
“Mrs. Moore asked about you today,” his voice begins to crack. “She said that she hopes you wake up soon. And Mr. Green, down at the convenience store, he wishes you all the best and says he’s praying for you.”
The woman lies unmoving and unresponsive. Gently, the man lifts up her head, propping her back against the pillows. He kisses her forehead.
“I’m going to bring you some water.” His hand smoothes over the hair at the forefront of her scalp and he exits the room with one last worried glance behind him.
When he returns, the man has with him a glass of water. He tenderly lifts her chin and brings the drink to her lips. They don’t so much as quiver, and he sets the glass down with a disheartened sigh.
The man returns to his seat in the old wooden chair and stares down at his wife sadly. Though it’s just past noon, already the daylight is beginning to fade from the too small room.
When all the light has disappeared, the man hears the front door open.
“Dad?” A voice calls. “Dad?”
The stairs creak as the footsteps move up and towards the bedroom where the man sits at her bedside.
“Dad!” The door to the room swings open.
A girl, well above the age of a teenager, enters. She walks up and kneels beside the man, laying a comforting hand on his knee.
“Dad?” she says. “Hey. Let’s go sit downstairs.”
Her voice is soft, calming.
The girl stands up and leads the man downstairs to an old leather armchair, dusty and unused. The man struggles against her, needing to be upstairs. The girl is too little to understand.
“I can’t sit down here, your mom, your mom, she’s up there, she’s sick, what if she needs something?” The man attempts to stand, attempts to get back to his wife and their small bedroom upstairs.
The girl places a hand on her dad’s shoulder, gentle yet heavy, and pushes him back into the chair. He continues muttering to himself, looking upstairs with a worried look in his eyes. The girl presses a glass of water into the man’s hands and he settles as he shakily lifts the glass to his lips for a sip.
The man slowly lowers the glass and lifts his eyes, meeting the gaze of the girl.
“What if she wakes up while I’m not there?” he whispers.
“Oh, Dad.” The girls speaks softly, pitifully.
She places her hands over his trembling ones and looks into the man’s eyes.
“Dad, Mom died 10 years ago.”