A short story for your Wednesday morning. Enjoy.
“Morning, Jim,” I waved at my neighbour as I walked past his house.
He was always outside to greet me as I walked to the bus stop in the morning. The poor guy had looked so lonely since his wife past away last year.
A few days after her funeral he started coming to the front gate. I’d stop and have a chat with him, but he only said the same thing. Poor thing, his dementia must have been getting worse.
“When are you going to come inside and see me? I’m so lonely.”
I always replied, “I’d love to. Maybe this afternoon.” But I never got around to it. The kids always needed something, or I was late and had to get tea on before my husband got home, and the kids got too feral.
I swore that today would be different. As I got off the bus, I could see flashing lights in the driveway. I hurried along thinking it was my house, and one of the kids was hurt., but they were in Jim’s house.
I slowed down and waved at a police officer who was by the front door.
“Can I help you?”
“Is Jim alright? I’m Leslie, I live next door.”
“I’m afraid not. We found him in his bed. I’m sorry to tell you that he’s passed.”
I swallowed hard, my breaths coming in great heaves. If I had only visited him when he needed me.
Sniffing back my tears I said, “I just spoke to him this morning.”
The officer frowned and shook her head. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. The paramedics think he’s been dead for months.”
My skin tingled, and the hair on the back on my neck rose. “What?”
Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe and the officer gripped my shoulders.
“Maam, are you alright?”
I waved her away and inhaled deeply. I looked at the front yard properly. The grass had overgrown, and the mail was all over the front porch. Not even his prized flower beds had been weeded.
How did I miss this? Then Jim’s words came flooding back. “When was I going to come inside to see him? He was lonely.”
“He didn’t mean to visit him,” I said to the officer, deep sobs breaking free, “he meant to find his body because he was lonely.”