Alden Carter sat in his wheel chair and looked out his window at Lake Michigan. Summer brought out the sun-worshipers and small and large boats that bobbed up and down on the lake's waves encouraged by a gentle breeze. Alden's wife, Millie, entered the room from the kitchen and went to her husband. "Alden, darling, I made tuna fish sandwiches. Come into the kitchen and eat with me."
"Okay, Millie," he said and wheeled himself into the kitchen and placed himself at the table.
Millie placed a bowl of salad on the table, and put a plate with a sandwich on it in front of Alden. "Would you like some coffee, Alden?"
"Yes, I could use a cup. Thank you."
Millie poured a cup of coffee and put it on the table next to Alden's plate."
"Are David and Mara coming to visit, today?"
"I don't know, honey. Teen-age grandchildren are very busy with their teen-age lives. James and Susan might drop by. They usually do come by on Sunday mornings."
Millie sat down and took a bite of her sandwich. She watched as Alden tried to control his shaking hand so that he could pick up his sandwich, but the sandwich escaped his shaking hand. "Damn, Millie, it's getting worse."
"Here, darling, let me help," she said, and fed him.
Alden lowered his head so that his chin rested on his chest and sobbed. Millie put her arms around him and pulled him close to her. "Millie, I'm like a baby who has to be fed," he sobbed.
"Alden, eight years ago, when I was so sick I couldn't sit up, I had to be fed. I didn't like feeling helpless, but I had no choice. I had to let you feed me."
"I know, my love, but you recovered. I'm not going to recover. I don't have many years left, and I don't want to spend them like this."
"My darling, whatever time we have left, we will spend it together, and I will take care of you."
They finished eating, and Millie wheeled Alden back to the window. "Alden, I'm going to do the dishes and start supper. Call you if you need anything."
"Okay, Millie, thanks," he said and Millie left the room.
"Where did my life go?" Alden thought as he watched the boats on the lake. "Now, I'm an invalid, crippled by this disease that is slowly taking my life. When will I become bedridden? When I reach that stage, I will take my life," he said with conviction. "To be young again," he said wistfully.
That night, Alden dreamed that he was standing in front of a mirror looking at a faceless figure.
"Who are you?''
"That you do not have to know. All you have to know is you summoned me."
"I summoned you?"
"Yes. You made a wish that is monumental in nature, and can not be taken lightly. You wished you were young, again, and I ask you if you have given careful thought to what you wish for?
"Uh, well, yes. I am dying, there is no cure for my disease, and I don't want to die the way I'm dying, so I wished for that time when I was the healthiest."
"Done. Your wish is granted."
"But what about my wife?"
"Your wife has not made the same wish."
"But my wife won't want to be without me. She will want what I want. She's not in the best of health and would wish for that time when she was her healthiest."
"All right. When you both awake, you will both be what you were when you were your healthiest."
The next morning, Alden's and Millie's son, James, and daughter-in-law, Susan, knocked on the front door. "Hmm. There's no answer," James said, knocked again, and then opened the door. "Dad, Mom, where are you?"
James and Mara looked through the apartment. "James, come here," she called, and James rushed to her.
"What th'…? Where did they come from?"
"Good question, James," Mara said, went to the bed, and looked down at two babies.
"I don't understand this. Where are my mother and father and where did these babies come from? You keep an eye on the babies while I check with the neighbors," James said and left.
James never found his parents. He reported the disappearance to the police, but their disappearance remained a mystery. What he didn't report was the babies. Mara wanted to keep them and raise them as their own, so they took the babies home, and James and Mara became the parents of James parents. They enjoyed being parents and life with the babies was good. The present was good, but the future was going to be…well, you can imagine.
BIO: Saul Greenblatt
While teaching at a community college, Mr. Greenblatt wrote stories and stage plays, one of which won a Smith College playwriting competition. Since retiring in 2000, he has been writing short stories, novellas, and novels. Some of his short stories have been published on line, and others in print anthologies.
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