Second Childhood

Marion heard David come into the apartment and waited for him to come into her room before speaking. She was 85, disease having taken its toll on her body while leaving her mind intact. David walked to the head of her bed. “How is it today, Mom?” It was their way of discussing her pain and energy levels without talking about sickness. She hated that.

“4. Maybe 4.5. I saw a robin on the windowsill.” She smiled and lifted her hand to him, the child of her middle age, nearly 50 when he was born. When she was widowed, he moved nearby, only too glad to live away from his ex, and the town where he never did get to start a family. “Today is the day. Are you ready?”

“I’m ready.” He dropped into the small chair and ran his hand over her hair, smoothing it back. He pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. “I don’t want to go yet and leave you alone.”

“I’m not alone. The nurse will take care of me.” Her blue eyes looked as crystal clear as they did when he was a child, despite her dark eyelids and being ringed in red. David picked up a notebook and looked over her usual scrawl of equations. “You’re sure then?”

“Positive. The sun and earth won’t line up this way with the planets for another 25 years. You must get to the ley lines we discussed. It’s today or never.” She looked up at a painting of Stonehenge on the wall. “You have the location and all my maps. You will find me there. The window is tight, between when I became orphaned and when I was taken to the refugee camp. Promise me you won’t wait. Then I can run again. I’ll have my childhood again. This time with someone I trust.” Her eyes looked tired and they fluttered closed. She let go of his hand. “Go.” He kissed her forehead and left.

David approached Stonehenge with a photo of his mother from 1945 with trepidation. He was scared that she was wrong about the timing, and of what he would find. He was as afraid it would work as much as he feared letting his mother down. Quantum physics was her field, and he trusted her completely. He stepped into the space where he expected to find the portal and braced himself. He felt nothing, and no different than the moment previous. Taking another step, he looked around. He detected no real changes that the naked eye would notice without a close study of the stones; but, he followed her instructions, leaving there and traveling to the town where his grandparents had lost their lives. According to her calculations, he would arrive moments after Marion had left her hiding place to find food. The war had been over for days, but she hid as long as she could make the provisions last.

David started across the bridge. The town was bombed about, but there were no sounds of battle. Suddenly he saw a girl running her heart out, her heavy braid bouncing around and slapping her in the back. She stopped suddenly when she saw him. She looked behind her, then to him once more, where he blocked her path with his body. He smiled, then opened his arms, to show that he knew her without scaring her off.

“It’s okay, Marion. Don’t be afraid. I am here to take you home.”


Off kilter

I reached into my pocket and felt around for the shorty, a cigarette I put out under my boot when I had to duck into the butcher. I lit it.

The tip went cold and I shifted packages to one side awkwardly. A hand under my elbow held it steady while another brought ’round a match.

“Thank you green eyes, ” I said, and smiled, dropping the package of chops at his feet. “You saved me. I needed this smoke.”

We both bent for the package at once, bumping heads. I burned his neck with the cigarette, and dropped it.

Standing still, I let him pick it up for me, but instead of handing it to me, he put it under one arm and took my other packages as well. “Was that your last?” he asked.

“Yes. I smoked so many at a pub last night,” I said, wondering why I told this to a stranger. He started walking with my packages and my heels skipped over pavement to catch up.

Continue reading “Off kilter”