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I Love You Forever and for Always
Shadows cast but the early morning sun, danced over Lucy’s gently aged face as her sapphire green eyes gently fluttered open. Lucy began today just like every day. She rose from bed gracefully without making a sound. While wiping the groggily sleep from her face she glided down the hallway of her warm little house into a floral print bathroom that always smelled of fresh lavender and vanilla. After running a brush through her shoulder length silver hair she went down stairs to begin cooking a breakfast for two.
Fried eggs, pancakes, and fresh bacon were severed with warm maple syrup and hot black coffee on the side. Lucy seated herself at the table across from an empty chair and untouched meal and folded her hand to pray.
"Lord bless this food we are about to receive and keep us safe through our days until death do we part, amen." Just before she picked up her fork and began to eat she whispered, "I love you, Gus, forever and for always." Lucy ate her breakfast and never breathed another word through the entirety of the meal. Every now and then her eyes wandered from her food to the bare chair across from her, but her focus would quickly jump back to the food before her to avoid any more heart break.
After finishing her meal she cleared her plate and coffee cup from the table and strode back up the stairs to change out of her night gown. When she arrived back in her room she was almost surprised to see the left side of her bed vacant and unchanged. Gus must have got up and gone down to breakfast already, she thought to herself as she pulled a powder blue blouse from her closet, and laid it on her bed.
Once dressed Lucy returned down to the kitchen to find the once warm meal she had prepared, exactly the same way she left it. With a confused urgency Lucy wandered around the house calling for Gus to come and eat but she never found him. While scraping the now cold pancakes and eggs in to the trash she said to herself out loud, without meaning to. "He must have gone to the book store or the pharmacy already. He will be back soon."
When the table was finally cleared and the dishes in the sink were clean, Lucy made her way into the living room and seated herself on an old, red, and black, plaid print couch. The living room was small and warm. Pictures of her wedding day, and grandchildren decorated the walls. Next to the couch sat a faded black arm chair and a tall white lamp, and the smell of high dollar tobacco lingered in the air. Rather than a television, at the focus of the room stood a red brick fireplace, dusty with the previous night’s embers.
Lucy curled up under a tattered handmade quilt with a book in her hand. She had only been reading for close to half an hour when she heard the front door swing open.
"Gus?" she called as she stood up, but before she could leave the room a tall girl with strawberry blond hair and the same gorgeous green eyes entered the room. She walked with the same grace as Lucy and her long, slender figure mirror Lucy’s when she was the same age.
“Hey Grandma, how are you feeling today?" the girl asked with a cheerful tone. Lucy sank back onto the couch, slightly disappointed.
"Just fine, my darling Marie. It’s always good to see you." Lucy hesitated, “If you don’t mind me asking, dear, what are, you doing here today?"
"I came to check on you, just like I do every day." Lucy didn’t respond. Marie seated herself in the arm chair and began to gingerly rock. "Are you enjoying your book Grandma?"
"Yes, of course. I always enjoy a good story." Lucy replied with a bit more enthusiasm
"That’s great!" Marie smiled.
"So does your grandfather. He loves to tell stories. When he gets back you should ask him about your mother’s first camping trip, that one’s his favorite."
"When he gets back?" Marie looked confused “Grandma, Grandpa Gus isn’t coming back."
"Oh hush dear, he will be here soon." Lucy replied with full confidence. Marie chewed on a few word before she decided it was best to let this one go for now.
Marie spent the morning with Lucy and left right after they finished lunch. Lucy spent the rest of the day tidying up the house, while she waited for Gus to return home. When the evening sun began to set and Gus still had not come home, Lucy refused to let herself feel worry, and she began to prepare dinner and set a comforting blaze in the smoke stained fireplace. She told herself that he had stopped and Old-Man James’s house on the way home and simply lost track of time. Lucy waited for several hours after the sun set, but he never came home. Lucy’s starved stomach could not wait any longer so she ate her dinner and left her husband’s plate of food in the microwave and a note on the fridge. She lingered around the house for an hour or two before she chooses to go to bed; she wanted to believe that Gus would be there when she woke up.
The following morning Lucy awoke the same way and started her day the same way she always had. She served a breakfast for two, and scraped half of it in the trash. Then she once again discovered the left side of her bed neatly made as if no one had slept in it in days. Just as the day before, Marie arrived while Lucy sat on the couch curled up with her book. The whole day mirrored the previous day up until lunch. Marie and Lucy were enjoying BLT’s when Lucy suddenly fell short of breath and gripped her chest as if incomplete agony. Lucy’s vision faded and the world seemed to move in slow motion, she could vaguely feel her body’s thud as she fell to the ground. Lucy saw Marie’s horrified face just before she lost conciseness.
Lucy awoke in a white room with Marie and several other familiar faces standing over her. She blinked several times before the world came into focus and she recognized where she was.
"Why am I in a hospital?" She asked of no one unparticular.
"You had a heart attack." a voice she couldn’t put a name to, replied, that’s when the world became fuzzy and once again disappeared. Almost as fast as she awoke she plunged back into unconsciousness. The second time Lucy woke up the only other person in the room was Marie, asleep in the chair next to Lucy’s bed. The whole room was still the only sound was the rhythmic beep of the monitors and muffled voice outside the door. As Lucy tried to sit up, Marie woke up and smiled a warm but tired smile.
"Hey Grandma, you’re awake." Lucy tried to respond but words couldn’t seem to form in her mouth. "How are you feeling?" Marie asked with a loving tone. Lucy simply nodded.
"Where is Gus?" Lucy blurted out a moment later "I need Gus! Where is my Gus? I love my Gus! Where is he?" Lucy cried with panicked emotion. Marie’s eyes glossed over with tears and she hesitated a moment before she spoke.
"Grandma," Marie was almost whispering "Grandpa is..."
"Where is he, where is Gus?"
"Grandpa is dead. He died nearly fifteen years ago."
"No, he can’t be dead. Where is he?" Lucy’s voice quivered. Marie just looked down and reached for a folded piece of paper on the side table.
"Grandpa left you this letter" Marie said while she fumbled with the letter in her shaky had. Lucy took the letter and opened it. Tears began to well at her eyes as she read:
To my love forever and for always
If you’re reading this I’m not with you anymore but I still want you to know that I will love you forever and for always, my Lucy. We will be together again soon.
The letter slipped from Lucy’s hand and fell to the ground, as tears streamed down her face.
Lucy stayed in the hospital for another week. When she returned home she was told to stay in her bed and stay as comfortable as possible. Three days after returning home Lucy was laying in her bed with Marie at her side when Lucy’s breathing became shallow and her eyes felt heavy. Just before her eyes drifted shut, she forced out eight final words.
"I love you, Gus, forever and for always."