His dad stood on the back of the pickup. His sleeves rolled up, his hair matted with sweat, Maynard thought, “This is how I’ll always remember him.” Of course that wasn’t true, the way many things we think aren’t true for long, if they ever were. Maynard will remember his father the way he will look at 63, lying in a hospital bed looking thinner than he had since he’d graduated college. Maynard will see that man in that hospital bed in his own face when the skin begins to sag and gather around the edges of things like a bed slept in. But the day they moved grandma out of her and Pawpaw’s house, he saw his dad standing on the back of PawPaw’s red Ford and thought he looked completed, as though every moment in his dad’s life had been forming the man he was right then and the years to come would only erode and chip at his surface.
Grandma sat on her porch while they moved her things out of the house. She seemed to be remembering each brick that outlined the edge of the porch as though she’d lain them herself. She was moving to the Ever Glades Maturity Center, an awful, ridiculous name, but the nicest they could afford. The Center’s porch–she’d noted–looked like it’d been constructed out of thick plastic meant for the siding of a house or a playground for accident prone kids. She’d have to share the space with God knows how many others. It’d be a main attraction, a thing to do rather than the rest stop between her garden and her home. Maynard banged out of the side door with her bedside table, using the feet of the thing to force the screen door open. She moved from the bench to the concrete floor of the porch. The burn of the hot concrete through her cotton dress–she’d begun wearing big, shapeless cotton dresses after Elias died–reminded her of sitting by the pool as a kid, her mother’s voice from inside the house asking what flavor of popsicle everyone wanted. She reached her hand over the edge of the porch as if to touch the water, closed her eyes and felt the sun on her skin, focusing on the bead of sweat making its way down her back.
“What’s grandma doing?” Maynard asked his father. They leaned against the truck like some black and white photo.
Maynard’s father used his sleeve to catch the sweat before it reached his eyes. “What do you mean? She’s just sitting there.”
“Yeah, but I mean, what’s she doing with her hand?” Maynard knew he should let it drop, but he felt like he and his dad were on even planes right then, doing the same amount of work, both watching the end of something they had thought would always exist.
“Well, she sure ain’t bringing that old dining table out to the side of the street, so maybe we should get on it.”
Maynard nodded, kept himself from saying, “Yes, sir.”
They didn’t say much the rest of the afternoon, even when Maynard broke a vase and cut his finger. He stuck the finger in his mouth and tore a piece of his shirt off to tie around it when the bleeding didn’t stop. All the bathroom stuff had already been packed and moved out. The house had been rented out, and they had asked if some of the old furniture could be left in the house for their use. They were recent college grads who couldn’t afford things like the island in the kitchen or queen-sized bed in the master bedroom. Maynard’s father was hesitant to rent the house that he grew up in to kids not much younger than his son, who he didn’t seem to trust, but Maynard had convinced him it’d be cheaper to store the old furniture in the house rather than in a storage unit. Throwing it away hadn’t been an option.
They sidestepped the old woman, still pretending to run her hands through the cold blue water. Her upper lip was beaded with sweat and her hairline clung to her skin, but she didn’t seem to notice. Maynard set his glass of water next to her, just in case. After he walked away, she stuck her fingers in it and ran them over her face.
I’m working on a lot of things right now, specifically a collection of stories, so if something feels unfinished, it probably is. Don’t judge me. See you next week!