She sat on the sofa alone, in her spring flower dress, hair curled into perfect swirls. She looked younger. Harriet patted the sofa cushion beside her, asking Jon to sit with her and look out the big picture window to watch the children in the school yard playing at their recess time. It was like the old days, just after he retired from teaching, when he had all that extra time on his hands and struggled trying to figure out what to do to keep himself busy.
The children played with abandon, with no thought other than the fun of the moment.
‘How free they are,’ Jon thought.
“I feel aimless, pointless,” Jon sighed. “I have nothing to do. I don’t know what to do. Have I become pointless Harriet? Am I too old now to be of any use?”
“Just relax,” she said. “It will come to you. Even though your light is fading, you can still shine bright.”
They sat silently a long time. The sun was high overhead, its warmth radiated through the large glass at the front of their living room. The squeals and joy filled laughter of the children could be heard through the glass. Harriet smiled. Her smile made Jon smile.
“Remember when Magnus was like that,” Harriet said. “So innocent and filled with life.”
“I remember,” Jon said. “But then, like all of us he learned to laugh at things that we really shouldn’t laugh at. Like a friend slipping and falling or a joke told against a friend that makes fun of them, perhaps humiliates them. We all laugh even though it’s not really funny. When did that time come for our boy? When did he stop being an innocent child that laughed at others pain?”
“It is life,” Harriet said.
“Sometime I wonder if he lost that innocence when I told him about the tale of Gryla, the Christmas witch. I think it scared him half to death. I had to promise that she wasn’t coming for him. He seemed different after that. Changed from a child to a boy. Gawd, how could I have done that to him.”
“Life,” she said.
The sharp clang of the school bell broke the field of laughter. Recess was over, the children fled back to the sanctuary of their schoolhouse, leaving them longing for the next recess time.
“Magnus,” Jon said. Harriet continued to gaze out the window to the now empty school yard. “I miss him Harriet.”
“I know,” she said. “He’s gone now.”
“I miss you too, my dear.”
“I know,” she said. “Soon. Just be patient. Your time is near.”
“Yes,” Jon turned his gaze into his lap. “My birthday is nearly here.”
In the next instant Harriet was gone like a bubble bursting and Jon was in the hallway with Karl, outside Mr. Z’s room.
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