Anthony couldn’t muster those words while the line was engaged – when he pressed the “End” button he let out a deep breath and whispered, “I love you.”
What was it about those three words? Why was it so important to everyone to hear them? He was brought up to believe that respect was tantamount to love. His father drilled it into him. His mother had her German mother’s strictness and never uttered those three words in her life. She did hear them from his sister and his brothers – but Anthony refused to ever say them to her. When she lay in her casket he placed a white rose and whispered it in her ear. By then his father was long gone – but he still felt the chills of fear race through him as he walked away.
To his wife he was romantic and expressed his love through flowers, song and obligatory acts of a husband. He loved her and would play music and slow dance with her – but when she would say it to him he would smile. She understood.
So why this need to say, “I love you”? Why this pull to call each of his children and grandchildren to express his love with three words? Through a lifetime of service he had provided shelter, food, clothing and served as a role model. He had left behind and never looked back his dreams of being a painter. He had no regrets but felt that if three words, eight letters in all – were not voiced – why the bitterness from his children?
He looked at the clock and realized he was late. Seven Thirty Eight.
“Well its about time I was going to go check on you but…” She kept silent.
“You can come by any time you’d like – its always a breath of fresh air. You have no idea.” He smiled she looked troubled.
“Whats wrong Lydia?”
“I dont know – maybe – at first I thought I had imagined it but then I saw the two amulets on the table.”
“Yes…do you remember that gypsy lady the other day? The one with the Tarot cards?”
“Yes of course – she was kind of scary.”
“Well, when I left your apartment I went in the elevator and she was in there.”
“The gypsy lady? Maybe she was visiting someone.”
“No she wasn’t, well, she wasn’t visiting just anyone. Apparently she came to see me, or more exact, us.”
“Why, how would she know we lived here and why would she? She was probably putting you on.”
“Anthony – I have these episodes sometimes. Its as if I am in a dream or nightmare and crazy things are happening. The clock on my wall – the arms begin to race round and round; pictures in frames begin to speak to me as if the person in the picture is alive and having a conversation with me.”
“I have those same crazy scenes also – where I am floating above my bed – there is a river running through my room and I am shaking…”
“I know you do – the Gypsy Lady told me…”
“Anthony – she actually was in the elevator, the elevator did not seem to be moving and she spoke to me for several minutes. When she was done the door opened at my floor. She gave me these two amulets,” She walked across to pick them up and show it to him, “she said that one was for me and the other for you. She said we should put them on and go to sleep. She said we should be sleeping in the same bed in order for it to work.” The last part she made up because she did not want to sleep alone that night. She was scared – what if the old hag came back?
“Well if you are using this as an excuse to get me in bed, let me tell you something – it worked.” He said laughing.
“Anthony, I am scared.” She put her arms around him and her head on his chest. At first his instinct was to pull away but then he let her melt into him. He thought to himself, “What if there is some truth to what the Gypsy had said?” Then he said aloud.
“I say we wear them to bed and see what happens. What is the worst thing that can happen? Lord knows whats been going on in my head I haven’t revealed to anyone – so if she knows about it maybe there is something, um, something magical? Maybe she is a Shaman – my mother used to say that all women are by nature a shaman – able to heal with their motherly powers.”
“In my religion that’s called witchcraft.”
“Well in my condition I will take anything or do anything to reverse whatever death is coming to my brain.”
“I agree – it is frightening…”
“Don’t be frightened – I will be here for you.” His lips touched hers – instantly he felt a feeling of awakening. Instantly he knew that he was once again, alive.” Groucho, sensing this barked. Their lips parted and Lydia bent down to calm Groucho down.
“Oh come on Groucho – you know you are my favorite.” They laughed and Groucho walked back to his corner.
“That was nice…Lydia…” He kissed her and suddenly her mouth opened to let him in – she tasted like Cinnamon Apple tea – she thought he tasted like peppermint candy. They found their way into her room and she closed the door.