The lights gently faded, tempered by the looming shadows emerging from the corners of the room. A soft breeze loitered outside the window, inviting the gentle tap of an elm tree’s spindly branch.
It was the end of autumn.
The leaves had fallen along the gutters, strewn across the single-car streets, waiting to be kicked up into the air by small children and straw brooms. The air had developed a chill, brisk and piercing. It smelled different, warm, spicy, yet fierce.
Peter stared out of his balcony window at the comings and going below. As an ache radiated through his body, he grasped firmly at his robe and pulled it tighter around his pale form. He coughed, swallowing the raspy air he walked slowly over to his chair.
He adjusted his torso to relieve the pressure on his bad hip. The TV lit up. A loud, stunning musical hit from the breaking news startled him slightly. The world was loud and he was unprepared for the moment. Battles in Yemen, shootings in Charleston, abortions, molestations, and taxes. He switched the television off.
He laid the remote control next to his Reader’s Digest and phone. His hand brushed against the aluminum casing, pausing briefly on an exhale. He picked up the device, hesitated, and then began to scroll through his contacts.
It rang twice.
“Hey…” a soft voice said on the other end. “How are you feeling?”
“Old and useless” replied Peter.
“You’re not useless, dad…”
Peter retorted, “…still old, though…”
Both voices took a deep breath.
“Dad…whatever you need from Richard and I, we’ll be there for you…”
“I know, sweetheart…I know…”
Peter gently ended the conversation, placed the phone back on his side table, and waned into a sorrowful sleep. He missed her more than anyone would ever know.