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The Paths

LA is a creative writer from the greater Boston area of Massachusetts.

the-paths

A Short Story

I have come to the field again, the place with the paths, normally three, now just two: wife or friend. Loyalty to one, but not the other. And then, behind me, I hear a voice.

“Mommy!” squeals the little girl “I see a butterfly!”

Between the two paths, where a third once existed, just barely visible above the overgrowth, I see a butterfly. Orange. Brown. A monarch. At peace. In control. Seamlessly flying above the neglect.

“Mommy, do you see it? My pet?” asks the child, excitedly.

Turning around, I see only empty space, but the energy created by her joy lingers.

“Yes, a beautiful butterfly, my little one.”

I return my eyes to the paths, noticing now that the other two are beginning to vanish under the weeds just like the third had.

“I’m so tired.” I think to myself. “I don’t feel like walking today.”

I sit on the ground, cross legged, and close my eyes, willing the girl to return and to sit with me. In the distance, the beeping of the heart monitor can be faintly heard.

“Deep breaths.” I say aloud and the beeping is replaced by the sound of crashing waves.

I can feel the mosquitos beginning to gnaw at my legs, the temperature dropping in tune with the sun.

“The café in the lobby is still open.” I hear a woman say. “You should rundown and buy yourself some dinner before your friend’s tray comes up. Caregivers need to eat too.”

Startled, I open my eyes. I am suddenly all too aware of my true surroundings.

“I packed something.” I tell the nurse, lying. “I’ll eat when she does.”

The nurse, seeing through my lie, but not wanting to push it, simply sighs.

“May I get you some fresh linens for tonight? You’ve been using that same sheet and pillowcase all week.”

“No, I’m good. Thank you though.”

I look out the window. The sun will soon be setting over Boston. The ocean will remain a galaxy away until my friend is released.

“I’m having pudding tonight.” declares the little girl, still unseen, but so close that I can almost smell her lemon drop shampoo. “Will you have a bite?”

© 2022 L A Walsh

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