everyone has a bucket list... things they want to do before they leave this world.Martha Louis also had one such bucket list......did she fulfilled her wishes?


Everyone knew there was something skeptical about the old lady who lived down the street. Every gossiper had a different story to tell about her. Some said her husband died when he was serving in the military. Others said her children abandoned her. But nobody knew the true story even though she had been living amongst them for the past 16 years. But Martha Louis didn’t care about what others thought of her. She knew that at the end of the day it was her thoughts that mattered.

Although the life story of Martha was a great mystery to the townspeople, they all knew one thing- their mysterious lady’s days were numbered.it was remarkable how she survived the past 8 months with the breast cancer.

Jim Hawkins hesitated for a bit before opening the gate and stepping inside Martha’s porch. He was Martha’s neighbor and a reputed lawyer, perhaps more reputed for having the most troublesome son in the neighborhood.

The other day, his son, while playing with his dog threw the ball so high it broke one of Martha’s windows. The boy clapped his hands and laughed but his father started fretting when he heard the news.

Martha was watering the plants. Jim said a weak “hello” and stood alongside her. She looked at him enquiringly.

“the thing is, Mrs. Louis, I’m here on behalf of dexter.it was an accident and you know he can be a handful sometimes. I hope he is not in much trouble.”

Martha stopped her work and looked at him.

“I suppose I can forgive him, but I still think he needs to be punished”

“what for?”

“well, Jim, you yourself said he can be a handful”

Jim immediately felt the need to swallow his own words.

“as you say, Mrs. Louis. What punishment are you going to give him?”

Martha thought for a minute and signed.

“I want Dexter to read to me”

“what!” Jim was puzzled.

“it’s simple. I want Dexter to come here every evening after school and read a book to me. That would be his punishment”


This was Dexter’s reaction when he heard about his sentence. Being the all famous troublemaker of the neighborhood he was expecting chores like painting the fence or cleaning up the dog house. But reading a book to an 85-year-old woman seemed like the most boring punishment ever.

The next evening Martha was staring out of the window of her room. She was recalling her own life. Her husband, a soldier, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and passed away few years back. She worked hard to raise their only son, who settled abroad and never looked back at her. He sent her photos of his family spending thanksgiving with their friends or holidays at foreign destinations. She always looked forward to touching her grandson whom she had only seen in these photos. During her husband’s dying days she used to read to him from his favorite book. It was a trait she wanted to follow during her last days as well.

This was her last wish. The last thing on her bucket list.

There was a little knock on the door at this point and young Dexter’s head popped up. Martha welcomed him in, gave him a short story and asked him to start reading. When the boy struggled at certain big words, she helped him out, and while he read looked at his pleasant face. He had light blonde hair and green eyes. a round face showcasing playful expressions. Looking at him reminded her of her own grandchild whom she might not be lucky enough to meet.

The reading practice went on for a week and at the end of the week, Dexter finished the last sentence of the book and closed it. The old lady gave him a candy and said “take care and try not to get into any more trouble”. He smiled and walked away grumbling at the one week of what he considered as torture. Little did he know that he had just fulfilled a dying woman’s last wish. That night she sat on her armchair with the that short story in her hands. She felt strangely elated. She felt at peace. She lolled her head to one side and closed her eyes. she dreamed of her husband smiling at her and she knew- it was time for her to join him.




Submitted: May 03, 2019

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