characters · On Writing

Visiting Gifts

“Glad to see you made it,” the Mean Guy said. He stood up from his Adirondack seat, took off his hat.

“Me, too,” I said. This was the final day of my personal hell week of double workouts and my muscles were screaming from a long walk around the hot beach. I’d arranged for someone to find me and give me a ride home if I wasn’t back in an hour and a half. The walk took just over an hour, so no extraordinary measures were required.

“These are for you,” he said, holding out a vase of flowers.

He handed me my own antique vase filled with flowers from my garden. I nodded my thanks — with a Mean Guy, you can never be sure what he’ll do, so I didn’t bring up the failed interview and the long silence since his messenger promised that the Mean Guy would be in touch.

“Sorry about the way that things have gone between us. I’ve…well, something came up….” He looked down at weathered boots.

I let the silence rest.

“She isn’t going to get better — she’s home from the hospital now. The nurses keep her company, make her comfortable — or as comfortable as she can be. So, it’s just a matter of days, hours even, so…she asked me to give you the flowers…said that it was what I used to do when I was a little boy, bring her flowers to let her know that she was loved.”

Love? Where was he going with this?

He shook his head. “I’m not good at this, this talking…Anyway, she said to bring you flowers to say thank you, from her, for all you’ve done for me — and for her — letting her go in peace knowing that you’d be fair to me, give me my own perspective, my own life story…”

His pocket buzzed and he pulled out his phone. “That’s her nurse. I gotta go. Anyway, I’ll be in touch — the others will step in and let you know what’s going on if I don’t.”

We nodded to one another. I figured he’d let me know what I needed to know when I needed to know it. My fluffy white dog chased him across the lawn and watched him lope into the distance, howling sorrow at the loss of a friend.

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