Until November(10)By: Aurora Rose Reynolds
"Well, hello there, pretty lady. How are you today?" he shouts at me.
“I'm good. How are you?” I ask, bending to give his wrinkled cheek a kiss. I find his hearing aid in a small bowl by his bed and hand it to him. He shakes his head and puts it in.
"Well, gotta say that my day just got better.” He smiles. “Hey, Beast. How are you, boy?” he asks as Beast places his head in his lap for a rub. “Betsy was in here earlier bugging me about going to the dance tonight. I keep telling her that I'm not interested but she won't leave me alone. She’s already stopped by four times," he grumbles.
I laugh. Betsy is one of the older ladies here and has more energy than I do. She’s always on the hunt for a new man. “Aw, Max, you should go. You might have fun. I hear the band that's coming is really good.”
"Nope, I ain't going. You couldn't pay me enough to go to a dance."
“Well, you don’t have to dance. You could just go listen to music.”
“Not happening, darlin’, and we’re not talking about it again.”
I giggle. Max is set in his ways. I know there will be no convincing him. We visit for a while longer until I look at the clock and see how late it is.
“Oh, crude, Max. Me and Beast better go. We have a few people to visit before dinner.”
"Alright, darlin’. See you in a few days,” he says while still petting Beast. “And see you too, boy."
Walking down the hall, the smell of cleaning supplies is overwhelming until we reach the assisted living units. Then, it’s like walking into a country club. The floors are beautiful printed carpet. There are fresh flowers on all tables along the wall. The whole place looks warm and inviting with sitting areas and cozy nooks to read. I can't help but feel bad for the people who can't afford to live on this side of the building.
“Alright, boy. One more stop. Remember, be good,” I say, looking down. He just looks at me then back towards the direction are walking. I was just dismissed by my dog.
Walking into Ms. Alice's room always makes me happy. She has photos and things from all over the world on shelves and bookcases. Her husband was in the military and they traveled a lot. When he retired, they moved to town and opened a hardware store. They were married for sixty-two years and when her husband passed away, she refused to move in with her family. She moved here when she could no longer be on her own. But still, the room feels like a home.
“Hi, Ms. Alice. How are you?” I ask, leaning down and kissing her cheek.
“Oh, November. I'm wonderful. I was just talking to my grandson. He's on his way to visit too."
“That's nice. We won't stay long, then. I just wanted to bring Beast by and say hi,” I tell her, sitting down.
"Hey, you handsome boy. Come here and give me some sugar,” she says, patting her leg. Beast walks to her and puts his head in her lap. “You are such a sweet thing just like your mama," she says, making me smile.
Beast is like my child. I feed him, love him, and make sure he is cared for. But I hope one day I find someone to have a real family with. I don’t want to be single for the rest of my life and become known as the crazy dog lady. Since I'm allergic to cats, I can’t even be the norm and have a million cats. Well, I could but then I’d just walk around with puffy eyes and a runny nose.
“I hope my grandson gets here soon. I would love you too meet him. He's very handsome,” she tells me with a big smile on her face. I can see her mind racing with ways to hook us up. “I keep telling him he needs to settle down. He has never brought a girl home and he's getting too old for all that playing around business that men these days do. I want great grandbabies before I leave this earth. Back in my day, it was normal to get married young. I was eighteen when I got married and I stayed married until I lost my James. I miss him every day and still love him. I want that for my grandsons."
“Well, I hope they all find the kind of love you had, Ms. Alice. It sounds beautiful,” I tell her truthfully. I can see the love that she still carries for her husband whenever she talks about him.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" I jump and Beast barks at the sound of the voice. I slowly turn around, praying I'm wrong.
"Asher James Mayson, you watch your mouth. Don't talk to my guest like that," Ms. Alice scolds him. I can feel all the color drain out of my face and my stomach drops to my toes. Oh my God, he's more beautiful than I remember in his dark green thermal with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and the colorful tattoos on his arms are so bright that even his tan does nothing to take away from their beauty. His jeans are light blue overwashed and hug him perfectly. His light brown boots are so dirty that you would think he spent the day playing in the mud. Great! Just flipping great. He's Ms. Alice's grandson. Can my life get any worse?