When will Mrs. Stuart wake up?
I’m not certain; the doctor said she’s in a deep sleep and when ready, will wake, when the time is right.
She looks so peaceful, even with that machine and everything.
I wonder if she’s dreaming.
Sometimes the corner of her mouth turns up a little and I think she must be having such a pleasant dream. Why can’t we wake her?
She isn’t ready yet, sweetheart, give her time.
But it’s been so long. Every time we visit, she doesn’t open her eyes. Maybe she doesn’t want to, huh, Dad?
Well, these drab hospital walls leave something to be desired. Let alone the tubes.
We brought her a card and the flowers from Mrs. Davis. She’s a lady from our church that sent these flowers from her garden. Pretty daisies and look, here’s a tiny pink rose in the bouquet. Do you think she really grew that rose in her garden?
Hey, look at these cards. They look nice. I think her children gave them to her.
Yes, they did.
Well, isn’t that reason enough to open her eyes? Her glasses are in the drawer of her table. Maybe if I put them on her, she’ll wake up.
Not now, honey. Why don’t you read the cards to her, instead? She would like that.
Okay. Here’s one: “Mom, Get Well Soon from Your Son and Daughter-in-Law. Wishing you a speedy recovery; you are in our thoughts and prayers. Love Paul and Cindy.” It has such a pretty flower on the outside. Right here. Mrs. Stuart, look at this. Oh…well. Here’s another card. It’s from Mary. That’s her daughter, isn’t it, Dad?
Yes, it is, darling.
Where is she?
She flew in last week from Chicago, but had to return to her job.
What does she do?
She’s an attorney.
I’d like to be one when I am older.
You have to get good grades.
I know. I was on the honor roll last month.
Good for you. Keep that up. Did your mother see the certificate?
She was too busy.
Maybe next month, you’ll be on the honor roll again and you’ll show her, okay?
Okay. How come every time we visit, Mrs. Stuart is alone?
She isn’t alone now, because we are here.
Maybe we should discuss this later. Okay, darling?
Okay. Do you really think she hears us?
What did the doctors say?
I explained it to you, sweetheart. Mrs. Stuart is in a deep sleep but could wake at any time. Anything is possible. Many people in this condition can hear everything.
Oh sure, they just can’t talk back, right, Dad?
Correct. Why don’t you talk to her some more?
What shall I say?
What would you like to say? Maybe tell her about her garden.
Sure. Mrs. Stuart, whenever I come to visit my Dad, we go over to your yard and take care of it. Last weekend, Dad had a man mow the grass while I weeded your garden. I picked three big zucchinis and five tomatoes. I washed them and sliced them up, along with an onion and cooked them. Dad said that they were the best vegetables he had in a long time. He cooks frozen peas and corn for himself and hardly makes anything as delicious as what I made for us.
Hey, maybe I should be a chef like one of those talky talk ladies on TV. Have my own cooking show. Dad, do I have to go to a cooking school to be like one of those ladies?
Yes. A culinary school, it’s called.
Oh. I sometimes think all they know how to do is talk and talk, not really how to cook, like a chef. Remember that chef that came over to our table last night? What was his name?
You told him you liked the pasta we had. I remembered what it was called. Linguine Pestatore. I liked the chocolate cake.
Sweetheart, if you truly have an interest in becoming a chef, I suggest you learn the correct terminology. Instead of chocolate cake, it was called Sachertorte.
Oh, okay. Look, her eyelids almost opened. Did you see that?
No, sweetie, I did not.
Mrs. Stuart, did you want to say something? You used to bake the best chocolate brownies I ever tasted. Do you remember? Dad, did you know that when I was little, Mom would ask me to keep Mrs. Stuart company after supper, while she went out? We’d draw and sometimes she would help me with my spelling homework. Did you know she was a valedictorian in her class?
No, I didn’t know that.
We’d pretend that I was in a spelling bee and she’d set up a timer and I’d spell as many words as I could before the bell rang. She said I was gifted. I don’t know what that meant, do you, Dad?
You are very smart, sweetheart.
I never felt that way. I’m in a class of dummies, so I must be one.
Oh, no, you are not. Why would you say that?
I don’t know. I wish Mom didn’t make me live with her.
I had better visit Wyncote one day. Has your mother paid a visit to your school lately?
I don’t think so. Your watch just beeped.
Oh, yes. We have to go. Your mother is expecting us.
Mrs. Stuart, we’ll come back soon. Right, Dad?
She looks sad now, doesn’t she?
Not really, just tired. She needs quiet.
Oh, okay. We’ll stop by another time, Mrs. Stuart. Bye.
Linda M. Scott holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned an exclusive selection to the Sundance Studio-based, Andy Wolk Screenwriting-Directing Symposium, for her short story, Widow of Arbor Heights. This story was later expanded into her first novel. She was a semi-finalist for the Eludia Award. Her work has appeared in Every Day Fiction and Connotation Press. She resides on the outskirts of Philadelphia when she’s not on the beach at the southernmost point in New Jersey.