Wait Right Here

By Hannah Kidder

She adjusted her apron and admired the platter in front of her. Grilled cheese cut diagonally. A glass half-filled with 2% organic milk, a bowl of fifteen green grapes and sixteen red grapes. A small vase with a single tulip. She added a dish just big enough to fit two of each of the five medications he takes with lunch. Satisfied with her work, she hefted the tray and headed upstairs.

Her husband had needed round-the-clock care since the accident. Specific calorie intake, timed meals and medicine, scheduled rest, at-home physical therapy plans. He would be as good as new by the end of the month if Mallory had anything to say about it. She knocked lightly on the door. “Gabriel? Are you awake?” She gently cracked the door and saw him sitting up on his pillows. She grinned. “Hello, darling! I hope you slept well.”

Mallory crossed the room and laid the tray on the bed. “I hope you’re hungry! I made your favorite. Grilled cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack cheese sandwich with extra butter.” She brushed his hair from his face, “Your mom called today. She’s worried about us. Keeps offering to pay for professional help. And you know what I told her? The same thing I always tell her! I sad, ‘Mildred, really, we’re so grateful for the offer. But I can handle it. Gabriel is doing fine.’ You know how she is.” Mallory poured the pills into her hand. “Mothers can’t help but worry.” She pried open Gabriel’s fingers and carefully placed each capsule into his palm. “Oh! I forgot a glass of water!” Mallory shuffled back out of the room and called over her shoulder. “You sit still and wait right here.”

Gabriel’s corpse sat still and waited, just as it always did.