The wind, the sea, the horses

It is a day of wild frolicking horses, droves of them crashing on the beach. There is nothing to be done but watch in awe as their hooves lift the sand in swirls that the sea greedily gulps. The wind is blowing hard. I am laying down flat in the dunes, sheltered in the high grasses, from which I watch the spectacle. The rain starts. It is pelting the sea’s surface angrily, prodding it, taunting it, but the giant pays it no mind. It is playing with the mighty wind and together they are creating horses. The rain’s contribution is to keep the voyeurs at bay while they unite and procreate. Yet I am here and see it all. When I leave, soaked through and through, the sand under me miraculously dry for a moment, grasses flattened under my weight, my heat evaporating from the ground as I get up, I can see that neither are spent and leave them to their night of passion.

The next day, the drove is still there but they are not as wild nor restless. The wind has died down, the horses no longer frenzied under its whip. I watch the sun rise under gray skies, the sea still moody, lashing idly to move the horses around. I am wearing a warmer sweater, dressed as I should have the day before, too warm for today. The horses are grazing, big liquidy eyes, fretful ears. Seagulls are calling from on up, seaweeds are littering the beach. Men arrive with boards. They are suited up in black. They lie on the boards and paddle to sea. They wait until a tamer horse comes close to see what strange beast lies in wait. They hop on the first tame horse they can catch, riding it safely to the beach and repeat with progressively bigger and riskier mounts.

The ballet goes on for hours, until the riders are exhausted and easily dismounted by an unexpected kick. Most head home. A solitary rider is still out there, one with the sun and the wind and the sea. He rests, lulled by their presence, then paddles and rides. Eventually, the horses want a rest and settle in for a nap, the sea cradling them and whispering sweet nothings. I want to ride the horses and I come day after day to watch. I get a cheap Styrofoam board, on which I approach the horses. I lay still on the sea, let them smell and taste me, until I am just seaweed they can safely ignore. I watch the young ones break and re-form under their mama’s watchful gaze. I am no threat. I lay for a long time, then sit, then stand. I ride my first colt and feel its skittishness under my feet. He lays me down gently on the beach.

I return again and again to my friends. On stormy days, mama opens her mouth wide, swallows me whole, tumbles me over and spits me out. I gasp for air, look for light, roll with the punches. They cannot rid themselves of me. I scour the beaches to discover new droves. Some like wilder, rockier terrains. Those are tricky and dangerous, exhilarating to master. Not that I strive to tame – that would be my downfall. I wish to feel the power, be a small part of it as the wind is, the sea, and the horses.

 

Don’t speak ill of the dead

Nobody liked my grandpa, but you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, so nobody ever mentioned him. Even in my dreams, nobody would pronounce his name. He would sit at a long table, where everybody was talking and eating, and he would bend his head over his food, grateful to be admitted to the table, gulp down his meal then slink away. The first time, I asked who the man was beside Nana. My uncle’s kind eyes fled from his face and little soldiers took their place. “Your nana’s husband,” he spit behind gritted teeth. I was prevented from asking anything else by the mask that had descended on his face and the dread that had filled me. The room was deadly quiet as I considered my options. I was curious to know more but did not want to become a pariah. I sensed this was a pivotal moment. I had to choose my camp. Self-preservation kicked in and I averted my eyes from the old man’s gaze. Conversations resumed, and the moment passed.

It was years later that another dream lent itself to a rapprochement. I was a teenager by then and the dream was a fantastical one, full of adventures and twists. At one point I was falling down off a cliff and I thought, not that I would die if I touched the ground, but that I would die not knowing who my grandpa really was. Then and there my fall slowed down and, as I flapped my arms, I slowly rose and flew to an isolated island where the old man lived. I alighted and stood there watching him. He was tending pigeons with tender care. They were white, I thought they represented peace. My curiosity was intact and we were alone. I uttered his name and the pigeons skittered as though I had thrown gravel in their midst. The man looked at me but he had no mouth. I remember thinking he could not bite me.

I was not yet a man, still foolish and unaware of the ills of the world. I had the sense to approach him as you would a wounded animal. I looked away and made my way softly. There was no hurry in my stride and I did not crowd him. I stopped a few paces away and looked down at my feet. The soil was sandy with grasses bent down by the wind. I could feel the breeze on my cheek, and the sun. I waited. I was hoping he wanted to make my acquaintance. His shadow at my feet, his hand on my shoulder, a soft pressure then nothing. The shadow was gone, the hand, the pressure. I felt a mixture of sadness and hope, those complex emotions that come to you all at once when you’re growing up. I tried to unravel the strings of them, looking at each strand and naming them. Love, and fear, and hope, and curiosity, and impatience, and a sense of injustice.

I scoured the house for photos and pestered my mom with questions. “I burnt all the pictures. Your grandfather was evil.” I told her my dream. “You were lucky he had no mouth. Don’t let him talk to you. Don’t accept anything he gives you. Promise me.” Her tone was at once desperate and firm. I said nothing and turned to leave. Her voice was cold when she repeated, “Promise me.” I promised, seething, my cheeks burning in shame, angry at my cowardice. Of course, I continued thinking of him, but the need was not as urgent as before. We had made contact. I thought of him as my ally. I had been told I looked like him from members outside the family, with a certain reserve. They searched my eyes to probe my soul. They found nothing but solid rock. I disliked porosity and softness. A polished surface with no asperities, casting no shadows, was my ideal. My body was the same, sculpted with hard muscles and an uncompromising stare. Gone were my light boyhood days. I had the seriousness of an adult. I wanted to make weighty decisions and start grappling with the world.

The old man again showed up in a dream, as I was preparing to marry. The lass was a redhead, with shifty eyes and distrustful mouth. I knew in my bones it was a mistake, but she was pregnant and I believed the child was mine. I was ready to do the honourable thing, even if it meant being miserable for the rest of my days. He cast his shadow between us, and everywhere we went his shadow divided us. When I woke up, I walked over to her parent’s house. The sun was not yet up, but I could not wait. I had to share my decision with her. As I approached through the field, I saw a shadow climbing out of her window. It was a man my age, in her circle of friends, always milling about and laughing at her jokes. I caught up with him. He smelled of her and I knew at once the child was his. I went onto the road and blocked his path. “Recognize the child and marry her,” I intimated, “or you will live to regret it.” I could tell he was shocked. His head was still beside hers on her pillow and he could not reconcile the bulk of my formidable presence with her willowy body. He swallowed and shifted on his feet.

We stood apart the length of 30 paces, as though for a duel. He was no match for me. We looked at each other square in the eye. My arms were crossed on my chest. I was blocking his way. Behind me the sun was rising, creating a red halo around my silhouette. Behind him the fields were ablaze in that first light. I had a vision of the fires of hell. He acquiesced. I said, in a threatening voice, “Promise.” He cleared his throat and in a voice he wanted assured said, “I promise.” They were married after the harvest. I never dreamt of my grandfather after that day, nor strove to speak his name again.

The Myth of Sisyphus revisited

It’s a little-known fact that Sisyphus was married. Condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a mountain and see it roll down the other face, and have to roll it up again day in, day out was his punishment for cheating the gods. He was ashamed at having been tricked into this eternal punishment and had not confided in his wife. He was always late for supper and she was sick and tired of his excuses.

One day, she followed him surreptitiously to find out what he was doing all day. She suspected he had a mistress since he came back in a funny mood and too exhausted to take care of his manly duties. He must roll a heavy boulder up a mountain for eternity… Having finally understood the issue, she took pity on him.

When he came home, he ate a simple but filling meal. She had prepared a hot bath with herbs for him to soak in and loosen up his muscles. He relaxed into it gratefully. He was so tired that he fell asleep, dreaming of the thunder of rolling boulders. While he was sleeping, she ran to the mountain to analyse the situation.

First, she had a good long look at the boulder. It was immense, and she could not budge it. She wondered again how he managed to find the strength to roll it up but, more importantly, how he had the willpower to start over every time. She loved the fool dearly and wanted to help. There was no one on the mountain and she started the steep ascent slowly, looking right and left for clues. She could see his habitual path, well worn and devoid of pebbles, all crushed into sand under the enormous weight of the rock. She shuddered and kept going, all senses on alert. He would need better sandals, for one. She made it to the top, after much effort. There was little room to rest. It was a peak – no wonder the boulder could not stay on top. She looked to see if there was any way to flatten it, so it would rest. That would be a big job.

She saw the sun set. She had very little daylight time left and hurried down carefully. There was no point in spraining an ankle. She would be of no use to him. She came back in the house. Sisyphus was snoring in the tub, and the bath water had cooled. She roused him and put him to bed where he slept the sleep of the dead.

The next morning, he was out the door, a little less stiff, grimly determined to do his duty lest the gods seek revenge on his family. His wife had prepared him lunch and given him coca leaves to munch during the day, to dull the pain. There was a good breeze at the top of the mountain and it cooled him off and dried the sweat off his body. Heading home, he was almost happy for a good day’s work. He was starting to feel pride in his work and was less tired than usual. Also, his wife had been uncommonly nice, and he felt a certain tenderness in his heart.

By the door was a new pair of sandals. He did not wish for visitors and was a little irritated. The table was set for two and his wife was in a great mood. Seeing he wasn’t, she inquired at his displeasure and was happy to understand he was jealous. She explained his sandals were worn out and she had decided to call in a favour from the sandalier. They were his. Ashamed at his thoughts and touched by her kindness, he explained what had happened to him and that he was condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain for eternity. They cried in each others arms, harbouring no thought of trying to deceive the gods again by planing the peak or wedging the boulder. The next day was better than the previous. Sisyphus had the strength of his wife’s love to add to his courage.

The gods were getting restless. They had thought to punish this human for his craftiness, but he was outsmarting them by submitting meekly to their folly and rage. To add insult to injury, the couple was growing fonder in adversity. Unbeknownst to Sisyphus, his wife had decided to petition the gods. She figured they needed a way to save face if they were to release him from punishment. She thought she would use reverse psychology, as the gods were not as smart as they thought they were. She managed an audience with Zeus. On her knees, she explained how deeply unhappy she was that her husband had turned into a workaholic. He took pride in rolling this stupid boulder up the steep mountain. He said he was getting a workout and the girls were admiring his new body. He was looking forward to work, and loved nothing better than admire the sunset at the end of each day. Zeus thought long and hard and came up with the worst punishment he could think of.

Sisyphus was called to Zeus and ordered to immediately retire. He was to spend the rest of his days idle, a life of leisure devoid of meaning. And thus modern society was born.

Cool Action Figures

I suddenly have all this disposable income. I never thought his game would take off. I dreamed of it, yes, but didn’t consider it as a real possibility. It’s getting rave reviews and the money keeps pouring in. I go on Amazon, and buy cool action figures. I keep them sealed, so they maintain their value and stack them purposefully. I’ve dedicated a whole room for them. Once a year, I dust each one, admire them. I realize I have duplicates but can’t bring myself to resell them. The coolest ones make their way to the living room, the dining room, the bedroom. I move them around, according to my mood, but mostly I shelf them.

I have lengthy imaginary conversations with them and I get them more and more friends. I’m lonely I suppose, despite the fame or because of it. Mom is always after me to get myself a girl and settle down. I go online and flirt. It never goes anywhere. I’m just not that interested. To tell the truth, I’m a little depressed. I’ve put on weight. I can afford to get my grocery delivered at the door. I still cook, go out to see mom, socialize online. Apart from the UPS guy, though, I don’t really have daily live contacts with anybody.

I decide to make an effort for Gaby’s stag party. I hit it off with Jolene. I’m feeling good, confident and funny. We head away from the noise, find a little café and chat. We’re getting edgy so I suggest a drink at my place. It’s pretty clean, I pick up after myself. We’re kissing frantically on the landing. I fumble for my keys. I open the door, and the current between us dies. I hear her say, “What is this?” in an odd voice. My confidence dies. I see the apartment through her eyes. Piled high with dusty boxes, wrapping intact, tens of action figures welcome you in. They are encased in their little plastic rooms, frozen in motion, as though dead and cryopreserved.

She remembers how late it is and requests a Uber ride. He calls within minutes to say he’s close by. We part with relief, the awkwardness thick between us like a wall of deceit. I am mortified. I can just imagine her texting her BBF “I almost did it with this weird guy – his apartment is overrun with kid’s toys.” I look at my collection differently. I walk through the rooms – thank God she only saw the entrance and living room. Right there and then, I grab large garbage bags and start stuffing the boxes in them. I don’t want to see them anymore. They mirror back a guy with dwindling money (my fans are clamouring for a sequel), no friends to speak of, and a year’s worth of action figures. I must have over 500 of them!

I sleep poorly. The action figures in the garbage bags complain that they’re suffocating. They start ripping their cardboard boxes. Once exposed to air, their colours fade, they are confused by the sudden freedom. I can see their value drop. Money is burning, spreadsheets are dissolving, my bank manager calls to say I am in the red. I am no longer allowed to buy action figures. But I always want one more, one more,… I wake up in a sweat, heart pounding. I remember last night’s humiliating scene and close my eyes again. I am hungover. I rarely drink, I overdid it.

I get up and pull out the boxes from the garbage bags. They are no longer pristine. I was in a rage when I stuffed them in. They’ve lost their value. I survey the scene. I only tackled the lobby and living room. I can perhaps create dioramas and place them in natural positions. It’s just a hobby. It doesn’t have to be creepy. I just need to create sceneries, buy a few backgrounds. I had been mulling this over for a while. Now is a good time to start. I still have some credit on Amazon.

The Grave Robber

 

His father had had great plans for him. Tomás showed promise, as he was bright and friendly. The father was keen on showing his son the world. He brought him along on his business trips, as he expanded his trade across the neighbouring town. The boy was able with horses. They pulled their wares in a wagon, father and son walking alongside Suerte when climbing hills to lessen the load. They took such road trips as frequently as possible, enjoying each other’s company, the boy growing into a fine fellow. His father had hopes that he would become a doctor, marry, and that he would welcome his parents into his home where they could live out the rest of their lives surrounded by grandchildren. They often talked about this dream, adding details as they went along. The father had put aside money for Tomás to study abroad. Tomás had been accepted in a good school, and his parents had thrown a party to celebrate his new life. Family and friends were there. A mustachioed Tomás was beset by slender girls with jet-black hair. He was rumoured to be on the cusp of greatness.

 

His father was in his study, on the second floor of the house, overlooking the party. The coroner determined that a person or persons unknown had pushed him into the window and he had fallen to his death, drink in hand. Tomás felt responsible for his father’s demise. After the funeral, his mother was adamant that he carry out his father’s wishes. He was exiled to medical school, but his heart lay back home. Better for him to have stayed home and taken over his father’s business. But that was not his destiny. Alone on foreign soul, he was laughed at for his proud mustache and mascada, which he wore without fail. Tomás got into fights and was knocked out cold after he had had one too many. When he came to, he found he had developed a stutter. He retired into muteness. Though a diligent student, he found his mind wandering back to that fateful evening where his pre-ordained life had dissolved into chaos.

 

Tomás was close to his pathology professor. He stared at the cadavers without emotion, and did not flinch when called upon to move them. He was a sturdy no-nonsense lad. To make a little money on the side, he started helping the man who wheeled the corpses in, right down to the man who procured them. As his fellow students were cramming for exams or out partying all night, Tomás had other reasons to be bleary-eyed in the morning. His side gig was taking over his life. His grades were falling, and no one was surprised when he dropped out of school. The “Mexican” never fitted in; he was moody and reserved. Esmeralda was the only one whose eyes still looked out for the dashing silhouette of his countryman, who cut a fine figure with his mustache and soft eyes. She knew of his speech affliction and subsequent muteness but was still surprised when he failed to appear at school.

 

Though she never saw him, she did not give up on him. There were rumours that he had become a desperado, but she dismissed them as she had dismissed the other unflattering stories about him. The stories became larger than life. He was said to be mounting wild bucking stallions and turning them into docile creatures. More troubling were the ones about him riding a large white horse in the cemetery, their ghostly silhouettes blended into one, a real-life don Quixote peopling her dreams. Esmeralda took to strolling the cemetery grounds in the hope of catching a glimpse of him. She did not admit as much to herself, choosing to believe the quiet surroundings were a welcome break from her busy life. One evening, she found herself far from the gate as night was falling. She had wandered off in a section she did not know well and had lost her bearings. Seeing a freshly dug grave and movement around it, she decided to ask for direction. It was dusk and getting spooky. As she approached, she did not hear the sound of voices, just a soft, methodical swishing. Earth being moved or removed. She hid behind a large headstone, crowned with the larger-than-life statue of an angel. The angel comforted her as the man left in the dark, his job done. She could not muster up the courage to run after him, but decided to follow him from afar.

 

Before she got out of her hiding place, she heard a soft neighing behind her. Looming in the dark, a white horseman with a magnificent mustache was surveying the scene. She stood transfixed as Tomás walked past the headstone and towards the freshly dug earth. He dismounted and tied his mount to a tree. He changed into dirty coveralls, covered his mouth with his mascada, then disappeared in the hole. The man before had indeed removed the earth. She heard scraping noises, then a heaving. She could not see but dared not move. A sickeningly sweet smell filled her nostrils. She heard a soft thud, a muttering like a prayer. A dark silhouette was now filling the hole with practiced strokes. Once filled, he placed a single rose on the dirt, signed himself and picked up a bag. He got out of his dirty clothes and headed for the horse. She sneezed. He froze and slowly turned towards the headstone. “W-w-w-who goes the-the-the-there?” Foolishly, she answered “Knock-knock.”

 

He finished securing the bag. The coverall was gone, he was all in white again. He mounted the horse and headed her way. She stayed under the protection of the marble angel. He looked at her, and she melted under the kindness of his eyes. He extended a hand and she gave her his. He kissed it and dismounted. “Señorita,” he said then looked at the mare. She accepted his offer and saddled the horse. She was light. He walked beside the horse down a narrow path through dense woods. She was not afraid until they came to a stop in the darkest part of the woods. “Espérame,” he commanded. She waited, the warmth of the docile mare seeping through her clothes. She heard him talking, stuttering in English, his voice tense and unhappy. She heard rustling and a disagreement. She realized she’d been praying under her breath, something she hadn’t done in years. He came back, and took the reins again. The bag was gone from the saddle.

 

She tried “Toc toc…” “¿Quién es?” “Juan…” “¿Juan quién? ” ”Juan, two, three…” He grimaced a smile, tried again and laughed. They had come to a low wall. She climbed off the mare and onto the wall. He nimbly jumped up the wall and down the other side, holding out his arms. She descended onto his body and they briefly embraced. She was on the sidewalk. Further down were streetlamps. She oriented herself and turned back. “¿Hasta luego?” He bowed deeply and nodded. He disappeared into the darkness of the cemetery as she headed towards town, praying an altogether different prayer.

Just a Poem

I know all the words
It’s the meaning that escapes me
Like a theorem just outside my grasp
Or the mystery of electricity

I like how it flows
I can feel the undercurrents of emotions
The brilliant images make me smile in wonderment
Without rhyme or reason

Perhaps it is meant to make me feel good
Perhaps it is about the journey
Sometimes a poem is just a poem
A sunrise just a sunrise

The meaning contained in the feeling
The process a reward in itself
A clank of the bell
On a clear crisp night

Mr. Klein

I stand by my father’s bed. We never had much to say to each other and this is no exception.
– You want water?
– Sure.
I pour a glass. He takes a sip. I figure I should stay at least 15 minutes, then I should be able to leave. I told Marion I was going, hoping she would drop by. Instead, my sister was relieved and said, lightly, “Three’s a crowd.” That’s always been my line, and I could see now how she would have resented all my years of copping out. It was a shock to find our dad sprawled on the floor, in pain, his hip fractured though he’s not that old.
We look grimly at each other. I am eyeing the clock. It’s only been five minutes.
– Are you still in pain?
– Nah, painkillers.
– How’s the neighborhood?
I point at the curtain between the two beds. Dad has insisted on a semi-private room “for company.” He hates people, so I can only assume he’s been frightened out of his wits and fears another fall, another long wait. Dad frowns and pulls me close.
– I think he’s dying, he says in a low voice.
So much for company.
– Why do you say that? I reply in the same hushed tone.
– He’s hardly ever conscious. He moans and groans. The doctor comes and only talks to the nurse. He hasn’t gotten up at all.

Now I’m curious.
– Any visitors?
– Nope.
I suddenly feel righteous. At least Dad has me. Five more minutes.
-They should install the tv tomorrow. Do you want anything in the meantime?
He’s dozing off. I kiss his forehead lightly, as you would a child. His hair has thinned.

I stop by the nurses’ station and enquire about my dad’s roommate. He’s in the last stages of cancer. No family has claimed him. I hear myself say, “When’s the best time to visit? I mean, do you think it would be okay if I visited? Is he sometimes conscious?” The nurse’s features soften. “If you come around 7 pm, we can postpone his morphine until after you leave. Company will do him a lot of good. Thank you.” “His name?” “Mr. Klein.”

I visit Dad the next day. He’s back to his old self.
-The tv’s not working.
I try the remote.
– You have to press here.
– Give me that.
He finds the news channel and starts watching the news. I watch a little with him, then I head over next door.

– Hello, I’m Rick. I’m your neighbour’s son. He wants to watch the news. May I sit with you, Mr. Klein?
He looks at me, non-committal. I stay put. He ushers me in with his chin. We sit in silence. He has pleasant features, though etched in pain.
– May I sketch you?
He looks intrigued, motions at the pillows. I straighten the pillows. He runs the hand without the IV through his hair. I take out my sketchbook. He stays motionless, with a purpose. I draw him in broad strokes, the elongated forehead, the diminutive chin, the fine lips, the fiery eyes and bushy eyebrows.

I show him. He chuckles.
– “It’s good. Rick.” He nods. “It’s good,” he repeats.
– Thank you. It’s for you to keep. What shall we call it?
– The last hurrah.
I write ‘The last hurrah’ and hand it to him.
He points to the bedside table. I place it there, near a picture. I don’t ask. He’s looking at me, but his gaze is faltering.
– Time for your morphine?
He nods. I press for the nurse, who arrives promptly.
– Shall I come back tomorrow?
– Yes, Rick.
I go see Dad. He’s still riveted by the tv and mumbles his comments. I can tell he’s feeling better by the venom he projects.
– I’m off, Dad. Do you need anything?
He waves me away. He’s got his tv.

The next day, I make it earlier to the hospital and slip in to see Mr. Klein.
– Do you need help eating?
He looks up and smiles.
– You could eat my share. I’m just pushing the food around.
I am starving.
– At least eat the soup.
He complies and watches me down the pasta and bread. I look at him guiltily.
– I should have kept the bread for you.
– Eat, eat.
There’s applesauce and Arrowroot biscuits. I push it towards him. He says, “Take the cookies, they’re too dry.” His appetite is better. I tell him about desserts I liked as a kid. He says he could have applesauce everyday. I put the tray on the floor and push the table out of the way. I can hear the tv sounds from Dad’s side.
– Does the sound bother you?
He answers, “He’s got it running all day, all night.”
It’s loud. I suspect they took out his hearing aids.

– Hi, Dad.
– Rick, you’re early. Aren’t you working?
– I wanted to see how you were doing. The tv’s pretty loud. Let’s get you set up with the earphones and see if we can get the volume down.
I fiddle with it until he’s comfortable. He’s eaten all his food, so I get rid of his tray as well. He’s absorbed by the tv. I leave him to it.

Mr. Klein doesn’t ask me about Dad.
– Better? I ask.
– Yes, thank you.
He’s pretty lively for a dying man.
– How’s the lighting? Are you managing to sleep?
– I would do better with my cap, but I can’t get to it.
I rummage and come back with it. He puts on the cap. He looks dapper.
– Do you want to pose with the cap?
His eyes are softer. They are no longer fighting the harsh light. I push the cap a bit to the side. This time, I draw the boy in him. He gasps when I show him.
– What shall we call it?
– Springtime.
I title it, date and sign. I notice the first one is gone. It’s been a long visit. I bring it to a close. We shake hands.
– See you tomorrow, Mr. Klein.
– Goodbye, Son.

Dad doesn’t hear me leave. He’s got the baseball going.
I come the next day with flowers. Mr. Klein is heavily sedated. A forbidding woman is sitting by his side, her back very straight. I introduce myself and hand her the flowers. She seems to need them. I go and see Dad.
– The tv’s too small. I could hardly see the ball yesterday. I’m ready to leave. They say I have to do physio. I’ve been getting up and exercising but I’m supposed to always wait for help. They’re afraid I’ll break something
– Did Marion come by?
– Marion? Yes, she says hi. She missed you yesterday. She says to wait for her today.
I start sketching him.
– When are you going to get a real job? None of that doodling.
I put my pad away. We stare at each other.

I hear the woman getting up next door. She stops at the foot of my father’s bed. “You have a good son.” She leaves with the bouquet. I catch up with her in the hall.
– You drew those pictures, yes? You have made him so happy. He is dying, you know. But now, he is lighter. Your visits make him happy.
– He’s in pain today?
– Yes, they had to increase his dose.
– I will sit with him until my sister comes.
– Thank you, I must leave now. For work.
I take out my pad and sketch his dreams. He is playing the fiddle in a field. People are dancing. Dogs are trying to get a bite from a table full of food. I leave the drawing on his bedside.
Marion has arrived, and Dad and she are arguing. She wants him to turn off the tv so they can talk. I intervene.
– Dad, you’ve got a better tv at home. Maybe we can discuss ways to get you there sooner.
I’ve got his attention. We agree on a plan that Marion will discuss with his medical team tomorrow. If they agree, we can take him back home. We leave Dad to his tv.

During the night, I get a phone call from the nurse. “Mr. Klein is asking for you. I think it may be time. Will you come?” I hurry to the hospital. They’ve moved Mr. Klein to a private room. His breathing is laboured. He relaxes a bit as I take a seat by him. I take his hand. It is cold but firm.
– How did you know about the dream?
I look at his blue eyes, the child, the dream, the old man.
– My hand knew.
– Draw again, please.
I look into his eyes and see death. I draw a beautiful woman with a peaceful smile. She has long curly dark hair and tiny feet. I feel music around her. I change the curls to notes. I am immersed in my vision, drawing quickly. I show Mr. Klein the drawing. His eyes are focused and clear. He seems to recognize the woman. “Ah,” he sighs. He takes a deep breath. After a pause, another breath. I have stopped breathing and I am holding his hand. His grip relaxes, his breathing stops. We sit in silence, the drawing on his silent chest.

Dad went home today too.