Lois pulled back the heavy curtain and stared out the window. The ticking of the clock pounded in her ears. Where could that truck be? They said they'd be here at two. She wiped the fogged pane and squinted one last time, before she shuffled into the kitchen. Guess I'll make some tea.
Her hand trembled and the teacup rattled against the saucer as she set it on the table. She touched the stationery in front of her. So pretty. Margaret always gave such lovely gifts. She picked up a pen.
My Dearest Margaret,
It is always a pleasure to be able to use the beautiful things I receive from you. You are a wonderful friend. I am grateful for all your kindnesses in helping me through these difficult times. The movers will be coming today.
She stopped writing and looked at the boxes on the floor. She sighed and stared at them. When a truck pulled into the driveway she reached for her walker and slowly made her way to the front door.
"Miz Baker?" The tired looking truck driver pulled off his ball cap.
"Yes, thank you for coming. You're alone?"
"My helper called in sick. They's supposed to send me another one. He's fixin' to meet me here."
"Would you like to come in and wait?"
"That's mighty kind of you, ma'am." He stepped toward the open door, then hesitated. "Sure it won't be no bother?"
"Not at all. I don't get much company. It would be nice to have someone to visit with." When they reached the kitchen she stopped and smiled at him. "What's your name?"
"Melvin. Melvin Higgins, ma'am."
"Melvin, would you like some tea?"
"Oh, you don't need to make a fuss over me."
"You go ahead and have a seat." Lois filled the teapot and set it on the stove. "I miss having someone to fuss over."
"It's nice of you and all, givin' your things to the church," Melvin said, as Lois set his tea in front of him. "Movin' in with family are you?"
"I have no family. My husband recently passed away." She eased into the chair next to him. "We never had children."
Melvin turned his eyes from her gaze. "I'm sorry 'bout your loss." He picked up the cup and studied the flowered pattern. "You doin' okay?"
"After my husband passed away, the Social Security checks became smaller. I can't afford to live here with what they give me." Lois stirred her tea. The spoon clinked as she pushed it around and around. She watched the swirls circling the cup. Finally, she looked up. "We had to borrow money against our home when he..." She paused.
"Frank... Frank was my husband's name. He was very sick. The prescriptions were so expensive, and not all of them were covered." Tears filled her eyes. "I'm going to assisted living. I don't know what happens when the money runs out."
Melvin stood up at the sound of a car in the driveway. "Thank you for the tea, Miz Baker. I think I hear my helper now. Do you have a room you're wantin' us to start in?"
"Anywhere is fine. Some ladies are coming to pack up the kitchen tomorrow." She pulled the letter in front of her. "I think I'll sit here and finish writing." Lois continued:
I will be leaving soon. Margaret, I did not realize I had been blind. I only began to see the day Frank left. His love had always protected me, sheltered me, comforted me. Frank stood watch over me as the guardian of my heart. He made me forget that wrong existed, and that pain could touch me. I did not remember there was a world other than the one he and I shared. I was hidden in him, but now he's gone, and I am found, alone.
Lois looked up from the letter when Melvin walked in the room.
"Miz Baker, we're just about finished. Is there anything you need before we leave?
"Thank you, Melvin, yes. Would you be able to give a letter to the church secretary for me? I'll be finished with it in a moment."
"It would be my pleasure, ma'am." Melvin smiled. "I'll come get it after we finish closin' up the truck."
Lois ended the letter:
I find consolation through all my grief, in knowing I still have you. I realize the challenges you face also. I fear they are what has kept me from hearing from you of late. If it is at all possible for you to come see me, I pray that you can. I believe that joy would find a home in my heart once again, if we could spend some time together. I wait to hear from you.
With all my love, Lois.
Lois placed the letter in an envelope and wrote Margaret's name on the front. "Here you are, Melvin." She handed it to him when he returned.
"Thank you for everything. Will you make certain the secretary knows that this is for my dear friend, Margaret Johnson?"
"Yes ma'am, Miz Baker. I'll see to it." Melvin stuffed the letter in his jacket pocket and walked out to his truck.
* * *
"Melvin," The helper climbed on the running board of the truck. "Miz Johnson, ain't she the one we cleaned out her house last week?"
"Yep, she's done passed away." Melvin shook his head.
"Whatcha goin' to do?"
"I dunno." Melvin started the truck and looked at his helper. "I just dunno."
BIO: A frequent writer of children's and young adult stories, this is Tracy Grimaldi's first published work of fiction geared toward adults. Tracy is a retired Veterinary Technician who now tends to her dog, cat, turtle, and two birds. She will also feed anything that hops, crawls, flies, or sneaks into her Virginia Beach yard. Email Tracy at: tracylgrimaldi@aol.