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Creative Nonfiction Contemporary

An elderly man sits in the waiting room of Boston Hospital’s Oncological Unit with no one but the secretary. He stares blankly at the news that has been playing on loop for the entire day, but he has only gone through one cycle. He still squints at the television even through his corrective lenses, emphasizing the years seen through his wrinkles. His mouth is slightly ajar as if he was going to say something, but he never does.

The door opens to enter a younger man, routinely squeezes some hand sanitizer into his hand, and sits a chair away from him.

“Hello,” says the younger man.

The older man continues gazing at the television. “Hello.”

The younger man looks at the linoleum floor and kicks a pebble away from his feet. He starts to bounce his leg with his hands clasped in his lap. “The weather looks like it’s going to be nice this weekend.”

“That’s what they’re saying.”

“Great baseball weather, you know?” The young man gives a soft smile.

The older man keeps on squinting.

The younger man stares ahead at the coffee table, lost at what to say next. The magazines haven’t changed in the past few visits. If the elderly man ever took his eyes off the television during a visit, he wouldn't notice. He would pick up the years old version of “Better Homes & Garden” and comment about how he really needed to try that new trick on his tomatoes when he gets home, but his now home was down the hallway.

“I’m looking forward to the Red Sox game this weekend,” says the young man. He pushes his thick lenses up the brim of his crooked nose.

The elderly man turns his attention from the screen, “You can’t live in New York and like the Red Sox, son.”

“I grew up in Boston, so that makes more sense.”

A secretary enters the room, “Bill, can you please come up here to fill out some information?”

“Sure,” replies the younger man. Bill pushes his hands off of the worn knees of his jeans and stands up. He’s 5’9 and shrinking at the same rate his hair is becoming salt and peppered.

Bill scribbles a few things down and turns back to the television.

“Would you mind if I turned the sports channel on? I think they are going over some highlights,” Bill asks the elderly man.

“I would like to see what the weather will be like this weekend,” the elderly man replied.

“Okay, I do hear it’ll be nice.”

“Is it baseball weather?”

“Yes, in fact I am taking my son to a game.”

“I went to a game a couple weeks ago.”

“Oh yeah?” Bill forces a smile and avoids eye contact. “Who’d you see?”

“The Yankees, of course. We all know I’m not going to see the Mets play.” He points a shaky finger, “Are you a fan?”

Bill takes a deep breath. “I have to admit, I am a Red Sox guy.”

“Oh, you’re in the wrong city for that my friend.”

“I lived in Boston but my father is from New York. I’m taking my son to a Yankees game.”

“How old is your son?”

“14, his name is John. He’s a really good pitcher. It would be nice to see him on the college mound one day.”

“How much to send him to the Yankees?” the elderly man chuckled, exposing his missing teeth.

“My father actually used to pitch at BU. That’s where John gets it from. I didn’t get that gene but I did get a broken nose from little league.”

“No kidding,” the old man’s eyes lit up. “That’s where I met my wife, Julianne.” The elderly man pulls a picture out of his pocket of a much younger family.

He gives it to Bill with shaking hands. A trembling finger runs over Julianne’s black billowing hair as he continues to point out his children in the photo.

“This one is Amy, she’s about 24, now. Not real smart but she’s a great piano player. Got a nice boyfriend.  This is William my second oldest, he’s away at college for business.  I would want him to come work with me at the car rental but I think he can do better. Maybe Wall Street! I always thought the boys looked pretty sharp walking the financial district with their shiny shoes."

Bill looked down at his own shoes, covered in dirt from the baseball field where he practices with his son.

"And the youngest is Robert, just got into college for academics. I want him to be a pharmacist, but we’ll see. Half the time he speaks and I don't even know what he's talking about.” He smiles at the photo, "Look how much hair I had! I'm telling you it's the kids that made it fall out." He gives a chuckle.

“You have a lovely family.”

“I’m a very lucky man.” It takes him a couple of tries to get the photo back into his wallet.

“Would you like to put the sports channel on?” asks Bill.

“Oh, not yet. I want to see the weather.”

“Mr. Foster, the weather came on already,” the secretary interrupts.

“I don’t think so,” replies the elderly man. “I ain’t seen it.”

“I hope it’s nice this weekend,” says the elderly man.

“Me too, any big plans?” Bill asks.

“I was thinking of going to a baseball game at the high school. My son goes there. Robbie is not a great player but it’s all for fun. He’s smart though so that helped him get money for college.”

“Where’s he going to play?”

“Boston University, that’s actually where I met my wife.”

“It’s a beautiful school. My father went there, ended up raising us around there. He’s New York born though.”

"I grew up in Brooklyn, never left."

Bill gathers his composure. "City so nice they named it twice; right?"

"Indeed, Frankie boy was right." The elderly man closed his eyes with a nostalgic smile.

The secretary opens her sliding window. “Mr. Foster, you can head to room 3, okay?”

The elderly man may shake but he never needs help standing up.

“You have a good day,” John tells Bill.

“You too.”

Mr. Foster disappears through the doors and Bill is left all alone with a fourth round of the weather. The secretary slides her window open another time.

“Bill? I just need you to update your address for your father’s emergency contact. Once he’s done the doctor will see you separately in his office.”

Bill gives the secretary a knod and changes the television to the sports channel.

July 10, 2020 00:52

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2 comments

02:51 Jul 16, 2020

I loved this story! The simplicity of it was potent and endearing and I loved that I had to rewind and go over the dialogue at the end when the reveal came. I love that we are made to realize who the characters are without it being explicitly stated and that the strangers in the prompt actually know each other after all. Really good job Farrah! Looking forward to more of your stories

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Farrah Leone
18:05 Jan 12, 2022

Hi! So sorry I just reactivated my account. Thank you so much for your kind words. I look forward to reading your work :)

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