Oh, Dear Boy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The mind will not give in until it is good and ready, and neither will the spirit.

Submitted: June 25, 2008

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Submitted: June 25, 2008



A bitter cold floated through the cracks beneath the door, around the windows. A fire slowly dying, glowed quietly within its house of bricks. Smoke snaked from the chimney top, the emanating heat below reduced to a small bubble of precious warmth.

She shivered, hands unsteadily holding a cup of cooling hot chocolate. A blanket was folded over her feet, her elbows burrowing for dear life beneath the cotton.

Her son, Kenneth, watched his mother, the gray color that had taken over her features in the dimming daylight. The frailty of her frame scared him, the helplessness of her old age a terrible reminder of his own fate.

Jennifer, her daughter, rocked mindlessly back and forth in the old wooden rocking chair. Smiling absently to herself, memories playing through her mind of childhood and adolescence, the times of true, unadulterated happiness.

She stared back at her son for a moment, then her daughter, shaking her head slowly as she grinned. He always was a worrier wasn’t he, overly aware of the consequences, deliberately avoiding pleasure for the responsibility of a social conscience.

Dear boy.

“You ready for bed, mom?” His arms had already braced the armrests, ready to spring into action.

She sighed. Having been present for his entire life, she couldn’t figure out just how he could read her so wrongly.

“If you really want to get rid of me this early, I guess.”

He looked pained.

“No, no, mom, I hadn’t meant- ”

She laughed, creakily standing from her chair. Letting the blanket stay curled around her, she shuffled towards the stairs.

A hand gently grasped her arm as she began to climb the stairs to her bedroom.

“I’ll make it, Kenneth. I promise you, I’ll make it. It may take me awhile, but I’ll make it.”

He laughed softly, unconvinced, and step by step, held steadily onto his mother’s arm.

She studied herself in the mirror, combing back her hair. Age hadn’t been too harsh on her. The body would eventually begin to go anyway, she reasoned. The wrinkles had begun to appear years ago, but she looked good. For her years of sun and work and children, time had certainly been kind.

Chuckling softly to herself, she imagined Kenneth sitting on her bed, patiently waiting for her to emerge from the bathroom, so he could tuck her in and go back downstairs. That smile lingered as she opened the door.

“Did I take too long?” She challenged.

“Sweet dreams, mother.” He said, ignoring her try at banter and conversation. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

He brought the covers over her as she settled down amongst the pillows.

“Goodnight, mom.”

“Goodnight, honey. Love you.”

“Love you, too” He mumbled, embarrassed.

She laughed, her work for the evening completed.
He watched the house from across the road, his back aching from the damn car seat. He clutched his hands and the plastic crinkled, filling the car with the sound of a diluted attempt at passion.

Wearily, he resigned to keep his nervousness, and pressed on. He stood slowly, pulling up the cane he’d rested against the car door.

The lights had all gone out a few hours ago, finally even her children had retired to their respective rooms. Finally.

He trekked the broken ground, trying his hardest not to ruin his attire, to stay upright with nothing broken. His shoes and the bottoms of his pants where coated in a thick dust as he reached the door. He turned the handle quietly, half expecting it to be open.

It wasn’t.

He cursed under his breath, feeling far too old for this. The chill had begun to seep into his bones, his marrow frozen solid.

Shivering, he crept alongside the walls to the back porch. The door was open. He should’ve known it would be open, he thought in retrospect.

Out of breath, he reached the top of the stairs and turned towards the bedroom.

“Hello, Robert.” She said as he closed the door.

“Hello, Clara.”

He handed her the bouquet of flowers in his hand, and set himself down at the foot of her bed.

“These are for you.” He said sheepishly. “For the good old days.”

“The good old days.” She said softly, the tip of her nose touching the petal of a rose.
Kenneth woke Jennifer in a panic, shouting about mother being gone. Shouting and shouting, his face turning red, his voice getting higher and higher.

Jennifer smiled, stretching out under the covers.

“What is wrong with you? I just told you mom is gone, and you’re still lying here in bed!” Spittle flew out of his mouth as he glared Jennifer down.

“Relax. I’m sure she’s fine.”

He began to ignore her now.

“I knew I should’ve locked the back door. It’s always the psychos that choose little remote towns in the middle of nowhere.” He pulled at his hair. “Why didn’t I lock the back door?”

Jennifer sighed, throwing off the covers.

“Did you look everywhere?” She tried patiently.

“Yes, I looked everywhere! Why do you think I woke you up? Because I found her?”

She rolled her eyes.

“C’mon, let’s look again.”

She led Kenneth up the stairs, holding his hand like a child.

Their mother’s room was empty, the bed unmade: an unnatural occurrence, but everything else was in its place.

Jennifer smiled once more. A little card stuck out from in between the covers.

She pulled it out slowly as Kenneth looked at her incredulously. He indeed had the imperfections he tried so desperately to mask. Satisfaction bloomed within her.

The card smelled of mother’s perfume and a note appeared to be scribbled hurriedly in her tight little handwriting.

I’m not ready to be a crippled
old burden quite yet.
Until I’m ready for old age,


“See, I told you she was fine.” Jennifer said, handing Kenneth the note. “And now that that’s settled. Goodnight. It is too early, and I am going back to sleep.”

© Copyright 2019 Aislin Kane. All rights reserved.

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