He'd been home all the while, trying to watch TV, his chair pulled up
to the screen. His eyes only let him see at certain angles. He'd
been listening to, trying to watch The Price is Right where someone
tried to guess the price of Tide, saying higher, lower, high again,
then losing and then his son came in and said his mom was dead. She's
dead, he said, she's dead. My mom is dead now.

He turned his head upward, trying to see his son, who'd been taller
like his mother, and had lived there all his life, sleeping in the
same bed since he was a toddler. Now the son owned the land, the house and
farm, planting crops and milking.

He got up and followed his son to the mother's bedroom. It wasn't
always her bedroom, for they'd once shared a bedroom until she'd
gotten sick of him and started sleeping in what used to be a guest
room, where no one ever slept because there were so many guest rooms
and the other ones were bigger, and this one was downstairs, right
next to where she used to sleep, which was now her husband's bedroom.

He felt his way through the kitchen, to her room and he sat by her and
pulled the quilt back, probably one of the many that she'd sewn with
their descendant's clothing. He remembered when he could see right:
her hair was white and balding, her skin was sagging. She'd given
birth to seven children. She was sixty. She wasn't sick. Nothing was
wrong except her weight had caused her knees to go bad and her legs
were crooked. She was healthy and her laughter proved it, her laugh
was like a cluck, like the chickens she used to feed, watch
hatch, then butcher.

The dog came from nowhere, sniffing, and the son said, "They're on
their way," and then he said he was going to make himself a sandwich.

He felt his wife's face, put his hands over her nose and mouth and
lips, and tried to remember the last time he kissed them. He
remembered early on, taking her to the pond, where he'd later lost his

Now he called her name. He held her hand. He leaned to her and whispered.


There Were So Many Guest Rooms - Kim Chinquee (c)


Copyright 2009