The Dream House

flash fiction, old man reading

Image via Wiki Commons

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I was an awful man, with my house and my box.

I was an awful man, with my house and my little box of land. I worked hard for it. I scrimped and saved and finally purchased the small two bedroom ranch a week before my wife died. She always wanted a place of her own. For sixty years she worked as a nanny, cooked for me, and cleaned our rented apartment.

“Don’t worry, Johnny,” She always said. “Just a little more. We just gotta save a little more and we can put a down payment on a house. Got my eye on a real nice one down Willow Street.”

I could still hear her voice. Gripping the wooden armrests of my rocking chair, I scowled at the kids laughing and playing in the street.

It never happened. I would get laid off in one recession or another. The car would brake down. The roof would need fixing and the cheapskate landlord refused to do it. Something always came up. Then Alice got sick. Breast cancer. She fought for six years before it claimed her.

She cried when it returned for the last time. “I want to die at home, Johnny, please.”

Tears ran down my temples as I leaned my head back and closed my eyes.

Putting a down payment on this place seemed to give her new life. She sang again, her sweet voice harsh from disuse and chemo side-effects. She had a purpose. She wanted to see me settled before she went.

I made a noise somewhere between a chuckle and a sob and rubbed my itching eyes.

She’d done just that. She helped me move, unpack the boxes, and paint two rooms…then she died. She –

“Are you okay, sir?”

Lowering my hand, I saw a short young woman with dark hair and kind eyes. “I’m not sure,” I said honestly.

She smiled at me and warmth lit in my stomach. “Would you like some company? I was just on my way home from class, but I could stop for a few minutes.”

“Yes,” I said. “I would like that.”

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