Reluctantly Royal(10)

By: Nichole Chase

The soft glow of sunlight peeking through my curtains woke me up just before the sound of feet running down the hall.

“Mom!” My door flung open and Marty ran into my room. Tears streamed down his face.

“C’mere.” I held my arms open for him. He climbed on my bed and buried his face against my shirt.

“I’m sad.” His voice was muffled and thick with tears.

“I know, baby.” I squeezed him tight and dug deep to find the strength to not cry too. “I’m sad too, but he wouldn’t want us to be upset.”

“Why?” He rubbed his tear-streaked face on my shirt and I didn’t stop him. Even though I was sure that there was snot mixed in with those tears. It didn’t matter. The only thing that was important was my baby’s broken heart.

“Did Great-Granddad ever want you to be sad?” I tsked. “He would have done something silly to make you laugh, then give you a big hug.”

“But he’s not here to do that now.” Fat tears welled in his eyes.

“Well, I’m not really good at silly stuff, but I can give you big hugs.” I lay back on the bed and tucked him against me. “You know what helps me?”

“What?” Sniffle, sniffle.

“Well, I know that he’s watching over us.” I snuggled closer to him and placed a kiss on his head.

“Like from heaven?”

“In some form or fashion he will be here watching us, trust me.”

He rolled over to look at me. “Do you think it upsets him that I’m so sad?”

“I think that he would hate for you to be sad, but would understand.” I kissed his nose. “It’s never easy when someone we love leaves us.”

That was something I knew all too well. How many times had I been left over the years? My mother for one, and then there was Marty’s father, who had run as soon as he found out I was pregnant. And now. Now my granddad. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t his choice, the hurt was still just as real.

“Will you fish with me?” He looked up at me with big eyes.

Uh-oh. I hated to fish. That meant handling worms or little bugs. I suppressed a shudder and looked at my son’s hopeful eyes. “I’ll try.”

“I’ll bait your hook!” He smiled, and my relief was immediate. Marty would be okay with time. As long as I was okay and calm, we would get through all of this.

“Deal?” I held out my pinky finger, which he latched on to with his own.

“Deal!” He kissed his thumb and I kissed mine. My fate was sealed. I’d be fishing sometime in the near future.

“Then get out of my bed and go get dressed.” I pushed his shoulders gently. “I have a lot to do today.”

“Like what?” He straightened his Darth Vader pajama shirt.

“I’ve got to get everything set up for the funeral.” I looked at him for a minute, deciding that I wouldn’t ask him to be a pallbearer. I also made a mental note to buy him new pajamas. The ones he was wearing were getting short.

“Are you going to cement him like Great Grandma?”

I couldn’t help the sputter of laughter that escaped me. “Cement him?”

“You know, put him in a vase like Grandma.”

“Cremate.” I shook my head. “Not cement.”

“Weird.” He shook his head. “Can I wear regular clothes?”

In other words, could he wear jeans, not khaki pants and a button-up shirt.

“Yes.” I waved my hand at him. “Now scat. I need a shower.”

“And to brush your teeth.” He giggled when I blew in his direction.

“You too, monster.”

As soon as he was out of my room and running down the hallway, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and stretched. I was still in my clothes from the day before, and I frowned. I must have been exhausted to be able to sleep in the form-fitting skirt and blouse I was wearing. Normally I preferred giant T-shirts and sweatpants for sleeping. Nothing tight or revealing for me. All of that stuff was reserved for the stage or special occasions.

I didn’t take long in the shower, just long enough to get clean. No lazy morning bath for me. I had too much to do. There were a lot of decisions to be made. Including one that left me feeling frustrated. Who could I ask to help carry Granddad’s casket?

There was his old friend Patrick. I could call him and see if would be willing to help. Patrick and Granddad had been very close before we moved to Lilaria. If he would help, that would leave me with only two spots to fill.

I had to ask my father. There was no way around that. He should be one of the men to carry the casket, and I’d hide all of the liquor in the house if he said no. I could always super glue his hands to the casket—or maybe bribe him with scotch.

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