“Hey, Franny,” David responds, as they meet alongside the community garden on a warm, breezy spring morning. “How are you?”
The question is genuine. David lost his ability to lie and dissemble when he said farewell to Sasha.
Or perhaps long before that, he muses, when I delivered that box of food to Mrs. Brown, last fall, and she finally acknowledged me. Or when my dad was in the hospital and I thought he would die. In any case, whenever it left me, I do not miss it, that ability to lie to others, and to myself.
“Doing okay,” Franny answers. “Thanks. How’s Penny?” At the mention of her name, the little girl gurgles, waves her arms, twists in her stroller.
“She’s great,” David answers. “Growing fast. If I look away for a moment, I swear her cheeks are chubbier when I turn back.” He laughs, a low chuckle that competes with another gust of wind to be heard.
“And Douglas? I haven’t seen him out and about in ages.”
“Dad’s still pretty cautious. Even though he survived his bout with this thing, and has been vaccinated. He’s got a touch of PTSD, I think sometimes. It’s hard for him to imagine going back to normal, or even what normal might look like. Louise, too.” It occurs to David that, in his absorption with grief and fatherhood, he has lost track of how his own father is doing. “I need to check on them, actually,” he says out loud. “I haven’t, for a while.”
“I can do that,” Franny says. “I’ll give your dad a call, as soon as I get home, if that would help?”
“Would you?” David answers.
“Of course. I miss my long talks with him. Your dad always has a way of putting my stuff in perspective.”
“Thanks.” They part, each going their own way. David blames the wind for the tears stinging his eyes.