Content Warning: Domestic Violence
Here’s this week’s prompt:
“This is where you make up some stupid excuse to leave early and stop returning my calls.” He leaned back in his chair with a sigh.
I sat down in the worn, velveteen chair next to the hospital bed that was set up in the living room. The heavy, smoke-stained curtains blocked out most of the daylight, just like they had for the majority of the time I’d lived here.
He turned his head toward me. His face was as ruddy as ever – broken capillaries crawling over his skin like spiders. And his nose had become even more bulbous and purple than it had been the last time I’d seen him. He might not be drinking now – not with the nurses coming in to monitor him, but it was clear that he’d been doing it steadily since we’d last spoken.
He narrowed his bleary eyes at me. “What the hell are you doing here?”
I shrugged, suddenly as unsure and nervous as I’d been when we were married, but I pushed away the discomfort and straightened in the chair. I’d moved beyond feeling inadequate a long time ago. I needed to not only remember that but act like it. “I came to see you.”
“What? Making sure I’m actually gonna die this time?”
Shaking my head, I pushed to my feet. “I don’t know why I thought things with you would be any different.”
“Let me guess…this is where you make up some stupid excuse to leave early and stop returning my calls.” He leaned back with a sigh.
“Grandpa,” the bemused voice of our granddaughter drifted to me from around the corner, moments before Casey peered into the room. “Who are you talking to? You never use the phone.”
If I’d had breath, it would have caught in my throat at the sight of Casey, all grown up.
“She reminds me of you at that age,” he said, his voice softening slightly. “Spunkier, though.”
Concern marred Casey’s face. “Grandpa, you okay?”
“It’s easier to be spunky when you’re not dodging empty bottles and closed fists,” I murmured, never taking my eyes off our granddaughter. Finally, I turned to him and held out my hand. “C’mon. It’s time.”
His rheumy eyes widened as he stared at me. “That’s why you’re here?”
“I’m here to make you lunch,”Casey said, worry tightening her voice. “Remember?”
He turned to look at her. “How about egg salad?”
Relief relaxed her features. “I’ll just put some eggs on to boil.”
He nodded. Then, as soon as her back was turned, he took my hand.