If Love Exists (Chapter 1)

Updated on June 15, 2017

Bradley Cliff’s Nursery home sat on a few acres of land in a less populated area of the city. It was a two story tall, white building shaped like a ‘T’. In the center of the gravel parking lot, a waterfall sprouted from the mouth of a marble Cupid statue. The home was covered with crawling vines, and had an aged appearance in the dimness of its paint. I walked inside and met two receptionists sitting behind a wooden counter. There was a young girl with bronze hair, and green eyes who winked at me. She wore loose fitting blue scrubs that matched her coworkers.

Next to her was a cranky middle-aged woman that carried lots of meat on her bones, and had a permanent look of scorn whenever she saw me.

I leaned across the table, and spoke in a crisp voice, “Hello, ma’am, good day to you.”

Cranky rolled her eyes. “You’ll be assisting Bertha Johnson in room 201.”

“You know, I get the feeling you don’t like me,” I told her.

“I know your type.”

“And what’s that?” I asked, somewhat curious.

She shook her head. “You know exactly what you are, little boy.”

I narrowed my eyes. “I’m sixteen, and I really don’t know what you’ve got against me.”

“Your words lack sincerity, your gaze is condescending; and your parents spoiled you rotten. And you’re good-looking kids too, both of you.” She jerked her head at the girl with bronze hair, Cara. “You show up here, and go home to parents and friends that treat you like royalty. All the adults you see here have kids that visit them once in a blue moon if any at all. I bet once you all suck your parents dry, you brats will throw them in here.”

Cara spun around in her swivel chair and leaned toward the lady. “I don’t know what kind of conflicts you have going on with your children, but we get along just fine with our parents. Brenton was being polite. By the way, assumptions are the mark of an ass. You do know that, right?”

Judy snorted and told me, “Get to work before you’re marked late, boy.”

Cara clucked her tongue. “Stop treating him like a kid. And you know what? I’m taking my break now, I’m sick of sitting next to you. See ya later.” Without waiting for June’s reply, Cara got up, held my hand dragged me down the hallway.

Over our retreating footsteps, June said, “You have thirty minutes, Cara, and leave your attitude at the door when you get back.”


“God knows I hate that woman,” Cara muttered.

“She’s going through some stuff.”

Cara squeezed my hand and whispered, “So she doesn’t have to act like a butt. I go through stuff all the time, and I still respect others.”

I smiled, and led Cara up the staircase to the second floor. The inside of the building was painted yellow. I never liked the color, but I figured the designer was following the whole warm colors promote happy feelings craze. When you stuck a bunch of cranky old people into one place, you had to do your best to keep them happy.

Room 212 was on our left, I held the door open for Cara. “After you, princess.”

She crossed her arms over chest, but walked inside, muttering, “I’m not a princess.”

“Of course not,” I replied dryly. She slapped my shoulder.

I peered around the room. ‘Cept for an empty vase on a wooden dresser, there were no decorations, no pictures of family. Ms. Johnson sat on her bed, her slim, fragile looking legs dangle over the side. She was a small woman, originally born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Canada in 2001. In truth, I enjoyed taking care of her. She was nice, and a good teacher.

Her golden skin was wrinkled and saggy. A milky film covered her brown eyes. She had bushy white hair, coarse and knotty. I hugged her, while Cara slipped her a brownie. Ms. Johnson’s face perked, “Gracias,” she told Cara, slipping the treat into her pocket.

“How was your weekend?” I asked as I brought her wheelchair from the corner of the room, and picked Johnson up to lower her into the leather material.

Ms. Johnson huffed. “Let me tell you, some of the people here are just plain rude. I ask to go out, they say no. I ask for food that actually taste good, and not the bland stuff they serve here, and they say no. No, no, no. What is this? A prison?”

“I’m sure they had their reasons,” I told her.

“No, they just lazy,” Ms. Johnson said with a dismissive shake of her hand. “You see the fat one at the front desk?”

“June?” Cara asked.

Ms. Johnson nodded.

I saw a big smile on Cara’s lips. Someone finally agreed with her. Ms. Johnson said, “She comes here with donuts, and can never share them with everyone. I try to go outside on my own, and she calls a nurse to take me back to my room. I can take care of myself, you know?”

Cara murmured her agreement. “She picks a fight with me every day. I swear...”

“Ladies, shall we go outside?” I asked with a smile.

Johnson asked, “Not keen on this topic, eh?”

“Nay.”

“Hm... Brenton, I wanted you to have this.” Johnson handed me a piece of paper and a key. “Can you stop by that address when you have time? Tell me if everything is alright.”

Nodding, I shoved them into my pocket. “Is it your house?”

A dark look crossed her face, but disappeared just as quick. “One could say that, I did pay the mortgage.”

She was holding back some information. What that was I couldn’t tell, but an old woman’s house didn’t seem like much trouble. “We’ll stop by later.”

“Treat it as your own,” she said.

“Are you dying?” It was an honest and fair question. People her age left their bodies whenever they pleased. And I found it suspicious that she was giving me unlimited access to her house.

I must have had a humorous look on my face as she burst out laugh and dismissed the idea saying, “Oh heavens no.”

“So... you’re Okay?”Cara asked, raising a concerned brow.

“I’m quite well, you kids are so adorable,” Johnson cooed as she reached up to pinch my cheek. “You should see the look on your faces.”

Still worried, I pushed her into the hallway, but I let myself breathe.

***

A song that follows this story's theme.

© 2017 Aristotle Wilson

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