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The Last Time

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Dawn hit the little brown house on the corner of 35th and Hill Street as it did every morning, startling the dewdrops on the rosebushes into emitting little shimmers of light. The patio was clean and tidy, as it had been every day for the past ten years; empty but for a single rocking chair. The simple piece of furniture creaked as the man atop it went back and forth, back and forth.

He sipped from the coffee cup he grasped in his left hand as he read the newspaper, listening to the early morning songs of the local birds. Thus had been Hartford's ritual since Gabbi's passing, all that time ago. Some things had changed- he was now more arthritic than ever, and he was taking new medication in the evenings. Sometimes Ellen would come and see how he was doing, would sit with him in the backyard for a while. His daughter never minded the silence. Every so often she'd bring the kids along, and they'd cry out in an futile attempt to reach their distant grandfather.

Hartford tried, he really did, but this... this was so much easier. Letting it all go. He'd been holding things together for eighty-seven years now. It had gotten tiring.

Uninterested in the piece on the metal shoe sculptures in the art museum, he closed the paper and finished his mocha. The sun rose a little more until the bottom was touching the horizon.

Hartford stood and walked through the screen door into the kitchen. He was greeted by the scent of coffee cake, something he baked every Sunday in Gabbi's memory.

Recently Ellen had become Christian, like her husband. She'd tried to pull her father along to church, but he complained that to break his routine would be devastating. Sure, he may have been a tad dramatic about it, but he'd achieved what he wanted in the end. Freedom. Silence.

Peace.

After setting his mug in the sink and tossing the newspaper onto the table, he took the cake out to cool. After double-checking that he'd turned the stove off, he sat down at the table, surprisingly worn out by the motions he'd gone through.

The thing about old age, thought Hartford, was that you'll never know if it was worth it or not until the very end. Even then, you might never figure it out.

He lay his head down on the table and, once more, inhaled the scent of fresh coffee cake... for the last time.





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Saint_that_Sins This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm
i like this. its sad (of course) becasue the guy dies; but it kinda funny too (well to me at least) maybe thats wrong but thats just me. I dont mean the story is funny but the character is funny. My kinda guy! lol Great job!
 
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