THE PICTURE

There was a recliner. He was on it and the TV was on and there was some game playing. Remember when he played in college? Which team was it? They had leather helmets back then, not even enough to keep you from concussing. Like the ones now were any better.

There was a recliner. Someone walked in the room and behind them was a TV. On the TV there was some game. Didn’t he play in college? Who was it for? The person stood in front of him and just wouldn’t move out of the way. The TV was on behind them.

“Hey, grandpa. Watching the game?”

The person just stood there, expecting something. There was a TV on behind them, but he couldn’t see it on account of the person. Who was the person?

“You okay, grandpa?”

“Yes, yes, fine.”

He didn’t know where the words came from. The person looked familiar, and they were smiling, so it couldn’t be all bad. The TV was on. There was a game or something playing on it. What was it again? Football. It was a football game.

“You know what today is?”

The person was looking at him now, giving that facial cue that meant that they were expecting an answer or something. Did they ask him something? Why was he on the recliner? There was a game on the TV.

“Grandma’s birthday. She would’ve been ninety-three today.”

Birthday. Candles on a cake and some wish that you had to close your eyes for and really focus on. Don’t spit when you blow them out. Ten candles on the cake, yellow. Good frosting. Stack of presents in the corner, people all smiling. All happy.

That person was looking at him again. What was it? Was it about the TV and the game? He leaned back in the recliner and scratched the stubble on his chin.

“I fished this one out of storage. Thought you’d like it.”

The person held something out. Silver frame, reflection in it. Distorted old face in the reflection, eyes lost and far away. Gray stubble on the chin, hair disheveled but distinguished still. Got a real shape to it.

Between the frame, in the center of it. A picture. A dream.

She was beautiful then, beautiful till the day she died. The wife. His wife. He had wedded her and she was his wife. Her name was Jean Marie and she became his woman then. Her golden locks and that smile that made his heart get funny. She was funny and he was too. They had each other.

He held that picture in his hand. There was the recliner and the TV and the game, but they didn’t matter. He had the picture. His Jean Marie.

He looked up. His grandson was there, looking at him. Not just a person, his grandson. His grandson brought him the picture of his Jean Marie, and he was happy. Thankful.

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