They had been over it a hundred times. A million times before. Dana was asking Frank for the hundred billionth time what they should do for the Christmas holidays. What they were going to do when the children came home for the Christmas holidays.
“Frank, should we set up the Christmas tree? You know how little Samantha loved the Christmas tree. How she loved to open up the Christmas presents early in the morning before anybody else was awake.”
“They’re not coming back…” Frank had had a stroke six months previous to the current conversation, the same conversation that had occurred for the past ten years at this time of year.
“What about John? John was such a good boy, he always poured everyone else a glass of egg nog before helping himself to some. What do you think John would like for Christmas this year?”
“They’re not coming back…” Frank rolled his eyes and drooled out the side of his mouth. Things went on like this all the time, but there wasn’t anything that John could do about it. Since the stroke he had been completely reliant upon Dana’s care. She served him well, she helped him bathe, she fed him and when it was time to sleep, she helped him into bed.
“And Henry? The youngest of the three. He was such a troublesome boy, but he turned out alright. I think his favorite part of Christmas was the carols. He had such a beautiful singing voice. He was destined for great things that boy.”
“They’re not coming back…” Frank began to reluctantly jostle around in his seat. Agitated by Dana’s behavior. But there was very little that he could do about it, except speak the truth, which Dana, in turn, would not listen to.
Dana sat there in her seat, scratching her head, “I haven’t seen them in so long. I don’t know how long it was since I saw them last. Do you think they’ll have any stories to tell.”
Frank rolled his eyes, once again repeating himself in his wheelchair. He was mobile enough to get to the toilet and back without any assistance. Somehow he managed. Getting into bed was the real hassle, “They’re not coming back…”
“Exciting stories. Stories of new loves, stories of new friends, do you think they’ll have exciting stories like that?”
For a change, Frank decided to answer differently, “I don’t know…”
“Of course, there will be stories. New stories. Stories of new friends and new loves and all of those other wonderful things. When do you think they’ll get here?”
Frank, once again, attempted to dispel Dana’s delusion, “They’re not coming back…”
“Oh, you’re no fun Frank. But the children are fun. They brought so much love and laughter into this house. Not like you, Frank. You always told me not to do this and not to do that. We don’t have enough money for this or we don’t have enough money for that. We have to save our money. We have to pay our bills. We can’t go to that new restaurant that opened up downtown. You’re no fun Frank, no fun at all. Now the children, the children were fun.”
Frank stared at Dana wide-eyed as she said all of this. Looked at her. Drooling out the side of his mouth. Pulmonary vein pulsing. He slurred out the words, “Shut up bitch…”