There was a time when David would never have done such a thing: bring groceries to someone, leave before they could thank him, much less before he could plant the seed for what he wanted in return.
The experience of giving freely has made David giddy with joy. He feels fifty pounds lighter, and ten years younger.
He is only human. There are still waves of resentment, guilt, anger, fear. His stomach wraps itself around a cold rock when he thinks of his father in the hospital. The powerlessness of that, of not being able to visit Douglas, threatens to unravel David’s calm on an hourly basis.
Before, David would have channeled that fear into a scheme, a power struggle. Or, he would simply have disappeared, running to the horizon, trying on another location, persona, plan.
Now, though, none of that appeals to him. Or rather, it all seems like far too much work.
Walking away from Louise’s place, after depositing a delivery of groceries at her door, David’s steps take him down the sidewalk, in and out of the shade of the old birch and elm trees, in and out of the bright early summer sunshine. He turns at the corner.
Since Allison is stuck sheltering with her elderly parents, David has moved into her old house with Leo. They stay suitably far apart; there is plenty of room. Leo wanted to say in his lower-level apartment, so David took the upstairs rooms.
He enters the old green house, takes off his mask, washes his hands. It’s astonishing, the satisfaction of taking care of others. How had he lived without it for so long?
David calls his father in the hospital; checks in. Douglas is doing okay, after a difficult night, he is feeling stronger this morning. It’s a typical pattern: good mornings, hard nights. He assures Douglas that he’s taking care of Louise. “I know, son, thank you, she called me as soon as you left. She felt so bad, not waving at you.”
David laughs. “It’s all right, Dad.” He realizes that he means it. “Dad, it’s really all right.”