If I hadn't been so concerned about whether my plumbing was working properly, I wouldn't have sat so long on my favorite bench. The day was calm enough at Manito Park and nearly warm for fall.
I could see Doc Harkness as clearly as if he were sitting in front of me on his rolling stool, the sun backlighting both the red and yellow leaves behind him and his earnest expression.
"You've got cancer, Em." His vowels stretched out past my ability to comprehend.
How was I supposed to tell Jack? He had hollered at me as I made my way out the door just this morning. "Pick up the grandkids on your way home, and don't forget my rye bread." Our lives were so ordinary. We were both retired. He had his football. I had my knitting. He read. I cooked, and I was supposed to call the plumber.
Instead I had stopped at the park on my way home from the doctor. Jack, rye bread, grandkids, even the plumber, all forgotten. I nudged one of the yellow leaves with my foot. What was needed now was a good spaceship to take me away from all this. I could spend my last months on a planet where everyone swam in a blue sea full of blue light. I spread my hands wide, as if the cancer swimming in my blood were visible. One month? Two months?
I watched another several leaves drop down on the ground. The turn of seasons. It's just that I thought Jack would go first. The sun shifted behind a cloud and the air grew chill. I should go home. I should tell Jack, but I sat on the bench and watched the leaves fall, one by one.
My cell phone rang.
"You coming home?" asked Jack.
"Yes, dear. I didn't get the rye bread, and I don't want the grandkids today."
"Well, come home. I miss you."