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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. 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 to the kitchen 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?"

"They said they would come after work.  Owning an antique business is a 24/7 job when you’re just starting out. I wonder if Mara knew what she was getting into when she married an entrepreneur.”

“Our little girl likes to work, so she is happy. I like David.  He’s a good man.”

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 me 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 an invalid, so I wished for that time when I was my 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 daughter, Mara, and her husband, David, knocked on the front door. "Hmm. There's no answer," David said, knocked again, and then opened the door.  "Dad, Mom, where are you?"

David and Mara looked through the apartment.  "David, come here," she called, and David rushed to her.

"What th'…? Where did they come from?"

"Good question, David," 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," David said and left.

David never found Mara’s parents. He reported the disappearance to the police, and the police investigated until they ran out of leads. Mara’s parents’ disappearance remained a mystery. What they didn't report was the babies.  Mara wanted to keep them and raise them as their own, so they took the babies home, and David and Mara became the parents of Mara’s parents.  They enjoyed being parents; life with the babies was enjoyable. The present was good, but the future was going to be…well, you can imagine.


The End


Bio:While teaching speech and English at a community college, Mr. Greenblatt wrote short stories and plays, one of which won a reading at Smith College.  After retiring, he wrote short stories, novellas, and plays.  Several of his stories were published in on-line magazines, and others were published in print anthologies.


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