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Life Goes On
They stood there in the middle of St. Arbuck’s—a woman of sixty-plus years and a young boy of ten or eleven—holding their drinks and scanning the area for available seating.
Sad eyes in broken-down faces…a reflection of stone cold heartache if I’ve ever seen it.
Their movements were tentative and uncertain as if unfamiliar with the St. Arbuck’s experience.
As it turned out the only available seating was right by me and it seemed that the effort required to slide into their respective chairs was almost too much.
“Talk to me,” pleaded the woman, who I had pegged as the boy’s grandmother.
With his gaze riveted on the cup of hot chocolate in front of him he replied without looking up, “About what?”
The grandmother sighed deeply. “We have to talk about this sometime, Bucko, and I’d rather do it now and just get it over with.”
The boy started shaking his head slowly from side to side as a single tear escaped from the corner of one eye, running down his smooth cheek leaving a glistening trail in its wake.
“How could she do it?” he asked softly. “How could she just leave me?”
The grandmother started to answer, but seemed to think better of it and just shook her head in unison with his.
“I thought mothers are supposed to love their kids,” he continued. “Why didn’t she love me?”
“She loved you.”
His head snapped up, hurt and anger struggling for dominance on his face.
The anger won.
“No she didn’t! No…she…didn’t! The only thing she ever loved was herself and those stupid drugs! It was always the stupid drugs.”
Grandma turned to stare out the window as if searching for an appropriate response. “I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. I mean I’m sure I could make something up that might make you feel better, but I promised you I’d always tell you the truth, even if it hurt you to hear it. Remember that?”
The boy nodded his head slowly, almost reluctantly in answer.
He was a compellingly pathetic figure, this brave child, fighting to hold a flood of tears in check…and losing.
He whispered, “I wish my dad was still alive.”
“I wish he was too, honey, but for now anyway, it’s just you and me.”
Wiping his eyes with the backs of his sleeves the boy said, “I used to think it was cool to be the only kid…but now…”
“We’ll be all right, kiddo. Grandma won’t ever leave you,” she promised, giving his hand a tight squeeze. “Oh, we may have some tough times, but you and me, we’ll get through it.”
“I love you, grandma.” His voice was barely audible above the in-store sound system.
“Oh, I love you too, sweetie,” she replied, choking back tears of her own.
They both sat in silence for a few moments, drinking their beverages and gazing absently around the room.
Suddenly the grandma said, “Where did you get that shirt?”
“That one that’s hanging off those skinny shoulders of yours.”
He pulled a bit of the shirt away from his body, “This one?”
“Yes, that one.”
He smiled sheepishly. “Well, I kind of got it out of the dirty clothes.”
The grandmother rolled her eyes dramatically. “How many times do I have to tell you…you can’t take things out of the dirty clothes.”
“But, I love this shirt.”
They argued about the shirt for a while longer; about what video games were appropriate and the ones that were not; discussed what to have for dinner as well as having a friend stay overnight.
And suddenly…right there before my eyes, life went on as it almost always does.
5 thoughts on “Snapshots At St. Arbuck’s Volume 2”
Thank-you, Susie! Honored and humbled by your kind words.
Love these posts and am proud to call you family. Keep up the good work. Your insites into humanity are refreashing and thought provoking… (even if I can’t spell at 3am).
Love it! I can’t WAIT to get my copy!!!
I just now found your non-Vox blog! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get here 🙂