“Free, a Novella” by Felicia Denise
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Lennie leaned down, kissed his forehead and placed the napkin across her father’s lap. Just as she got it in place, Burt looked up at her.
Lenore was gutted.
More pieces of her already broken heart fell away.
His ashen skin, mottling and in different shades of brown and gray unsettled her. His slack jaw and visible body tremors made Lennie shudder. His eyes were her undoing. The mischievous gleam responsible for so much laughter, which had helped to comfort, console, and encourage her… was gone.
Father and daughter were still eye-to-eye, the reality of the situation holding Lennie in place when she felt his frail hand cover hers.
“Thank… you, baby girl.”
Lennie smiled and kissed his cheek, comforted with the knowledge she made her father happy. “You’re welcome, Daddy… always.”
Before Lennie could retrieve his dinner plate, Linda Kelimore was already cutting the meat into tiny portioreadersofins with this, Lenore. Take the other plate for yourself.”
“But that’s yours, mom.”
“It will be cold before I get to it. Go on, eat. I know you’ve been on your feet since the lunch rush.”
Just like that, Lennie was twelve years old again, doing as she was told.
Picking at her food, she tried not to stare at her parents. But Lennie couldn’t help but be mesmerized. Watching as her mother fussed and cooed in loving tones at Burt to take his time and chew each tiny bite of food. Linda caressed his cheek between bites. Burt rested his hand on her knee, never taking his eyes off Linda’s face.
Feeling like an intruder on a private moment, Lennie did force herself to look away.
Anyone who knew Burt and Linda Kelimore knew they were totally devoted to each other. More than half a century had passed since the day they each ran into a mechanic’s shop in need of quick repairs. Though they were both on their way to meet other people, a thirty-minute conversation changed their plans for the evening and the rest of their lives.
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