Vignettes — #18
Josh walks into the Forest Glen aged-care home. He goes over to where his grandmother, Miriam, is sitting in the lounge room, reading The Education of Oversoul Seven.
Miriam puts her book down. “Oh, hello Josh. What are you doing here straight after school?”
“Mum dropped me off while she’s taking Mick to judo. I thought I’d hang out a bit with Stavros.”
Miriam puts her hand on Josh’s arm. “Oh dear. I’m afraid you won’t be able to.”
Miriam has tears in her eyes. “Stavros passed away this afternoon, during his nap.”
Josh pulls his arm away. “He can’t! I mean, that’s not possible. He was alright when I saw him on Sunday.”
“I’m sorry Josh. He really did die today after lunch.”
Josh takes a few steps away from Miriam and hits the wall with his palm. “Nooo!” He leans his head against the wall and almost immediately has tears flowing. He lets his legs fold under him and sits sobbing, facing the wall.
He feels a hand on his shoulder and then arms wrapping around his chest. He leans back but keeps crying. Eventually his sobbing stops and he turns his head.
He sees that the arms belong to Chelsea, a young carer. She is on her knees, leaning against him. “I understand,” she says. “I had a good cry myself earlier, when I found him.”
She takes Josh’s hand and gets up, pulling him to his feet. “Come, I’ll take you to his room.”
“What? I thought …”
“His body is still on the bed. The undertaker is coming later.”
Chelsea pulls Josh gently along. He feels as if he is in another universe — a parallel one, in which Stavros is still alive and everything is as it should be.
As they pass Miriam, she nods at Chelsea. “That’s a good idea. Thank you.”
Josh hesitates in the doorway to Stavros’ room. “It’s okay, Josh. I’ll come in with you.”
Josh follows Chelsea in. He stops halfway. Stavros is lying in bed with his eyes closed as if asleep. Josh shakes his head to clear it. “It’s weird,” he says. “It’s like looking at a…