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Grandma's Song
Clarence Chapin

Even after all these years, she would still see him—from time to time. Time had passed, despite how desperately she clung to the past, and he was gone—passed; past. And yet, in the pictures that lined their home—she still thought of it that way, though she lived alone—he was still there, smiling with her, smiling back at her, making her happy both then and now.

“I love you.” He reached for her hand. She reached back—there was no one there.

“I love you too,” she whispered.

Mornings were dreadful without him. The bathroom—formerly filled with playful banter, debates on events from the previous day, and briefings on the day to come—was silent and empty. She looked into the mirror. She’d once felt so beautiful. He’d made her feel that way.

He was gone.

She leaned against the vanity, propping herself up with her thin, frail arms. She closed her eyes and tried to stifle the sadness that always surfaced when she awoke and realized it hadn’t all been some terrible nightmare.

Then she heard his voice. “Are you ready yet?” When she opened her eyes, he was standing behind her. He feigned irritation, as he’d done many times before, though she noticed a smile twinging at his lips. “Are you ready?”

The question pulled her away from him. In her mind, she saw a picture reel of all the people she loved: her daughter, her sons, her granddaughter, and her grandsons. She wanted desperately to go with him—he was the only man she’d ever loved, and the only man she ever would—but what would the rest of her family do without her? Then she realized he was no longer there…

At night, alone in their bed, she spoke to him. “You aren’t gone. I see your face. I hear you breathe. Maybe you are here, or maybe I am there. I know in my heart this is a dream. I just hope I never wake. We should be together like we should’ve been.”

From the darkness, she heard his voice. “We are still together. I love you.”

            “I love you too,” she whispered.

            During the last stages of his illness, he couldn’t move his arms, but he’d tried to touch her, and he’d always found a way. He was gone, but somehow, he still remained.

            At night, he spoke to her from the darkness. “I feel your love. I hear you sing. Maybe I am dead, or maybe we still live. I know in my heart I don’t care. I just hope that we never part. We will be together, and we always will.”

            There was no answer at first. Then he heard her voice from the darkness.

            “I love you.”

            “I love you too,” he whispered.

            “I’m ready. Take me in your arms. Take me there, to where you are.”

            “Maybe,” he said, after a long period of silence, “you should take me.”

            “Yes," she agreed. “I should take you.”

Clarence Chapin graduated from Cleveland State University with his MA in English, and currently resides in Florida. He teaches English Composition at the high school and college levels, and writes creatively on the side. He has been previously published in Vestal Review and Down in the Dirt.

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