This week featured The Comfort Boy from Carlene Love Flores and Garden of Knight by Dana Rodgers. Recently, we cornered our fellow mermaids in the lagoon and got the story behind their stories.
(Mermaid Note: If you haven’t already, please read The Comfort Boy (Part One) first.)
But what choice did she have? None.
“This first night, I suggest we set up wherever you’re most likely to fall asleep. Whether it’s your room or the couch or that recliner. Wherever, your choice.”
My choice, what a joke. But she had already condemned herself to participating at all cost.
“Okay, I guess Gram’s room. That’s where I keep my stuff.” Six months and she still couldn’t bring herself to claim the space as her own.
Alice followed closely behind, his proximity creeping her out a bit, as they walked the short hallway to the last door on the left, passing Alec and Andrew’s room on the way. Sanden swallowed her sadness at what had become of their little family. No one to call daddy, no Great-Grammy to sing them to sleep.
Once inside, she flipped up the light switch and made her way to the farthest side of Gram’s tall bed.
Alice stayed propped in the doorframe, his head only inches from skimming the top. Would he tell her to lie down? There was no way she’d be able to fall asleep in this strange circumstance with her mother’s confidant hovering in the doorway. Was he expert enough to recognize if she faked it? He couldn’t have that many years of practice, couldn’t be much older than her. His clothes were too stylish, his brown hair a few strands too unruly and his skin too smooth to be past thirty-five. The very unsettling way he patiently stood there made Sanden want to climb the wall. But she wouldn’t let that happen.
She lifted herself onto the top mattress with a hop and then sat feeling uncomfortable in her own skin.
“So I didn’t realize shrinks made house calls.”
“I’m not a shrink. I’m a sleep therapist.” Alice paused and for the first time bowed his head as if he was the uncertain one. “Sanden, I’m here as a favor to your Grandmother.”
Sanden’s mother had just finished cleaning the house. With the room straightened, things looked odd and out of place. The large, clear vase that had been used as a deposit for stray coins or buttons or anything small enough to toss in until they found a better place for it was now empty. Sanden shrugged and plopped two artificial flowers and a handful of loosened dirt she had brought in from the backyard into the vase. Thinking better of it, she tucked the marble she was about to toss in with them into her pocket instead. She looked up and caught her mother frowning.
The silky, once white peonies, covered in a light shadow of dirt and yellowed by the sun, were the only things that looked right in the room at the moment. It was clear her mother was on a mission to wipe Gram’s memory clean from the house. Sanden stood nearby the junk vase and waited for her mother to toss the sopping sponge she was wringing into the sink. Miraculously, she didn’t mention the fake flowers.
“Well, that’s that.” Mother paused, inspected the sink as if looking for Gram’s reflection, wiped at the stainless steel basin, and then continued on with a doubtful kink knitted into her brow. “The boys’ packs are in the trunk like I asked you?”