Over the River 7

Alec’s apprehension was quickly dispelled by a thought — if ‘Todd’ wanted to harm us, he would have done so by now. He relaxed his shoulders, and addressed the dark-haired man sitting in his deceased father-in-law’s chair. “You say you’ve come to learn about our family. What have you learned?”

“You mistake me, Alec. I did not come seeking information; I already knew everything important about the Andersons. What I sought was understanding, more of a feeling than a thought. I came to understand how the Andersons responded to mortality. In the conversations I’ve had and overheard, I’ve felt your family’s fear and sorrow, but also your strength, and determination to enjoy the life that’s been given to them. Their lives are limited — but their love of life seems to have no bounds.”

“Do you consider that admirable?”

“Yes. Because, being who I am, those are sentiments I can never feel.”

A sound of shuffling feet echoed down from the second floor. By the weight and location of the steps, Alec could tell Stella had walked from guest bedroom into the hall bathroom. He had not heard any sound from Grammie Alice’s room for over an hour. Todd rose from his chair — “Now that we’ve had this talk, it’s time for me to depart. Good evening, Alec.”

“Wait.” Alec sat up quickly, and pointed to the stairs leading to the second floor. “Shouldn’t you — ”

“I said goodbye to Alice, and your wife, while you were washing dishes. There’s no need to disturb them.”

Alec sighed, and extended his hand toward Todd. “All right. Then this is goodbye, I guess.”

Todd shook his hand. “Yes.”

“Will we — see you again?” To Alec’s surprise, Todd laughed.

“I believe you’ve figured out that I’ll be seeing all of you again. But, to your question — no, I don’t imagine I’ll attend any further Thanksgiving dinners here.”

“Very well.” Releasing Todd’s hand, Alec stepped back once, then suddenly looked back at Todd. “So, do you know when — ”

Todd lifted his right index finger at Alec, and his eyes seemed to glow with a dark fury. “I cannot see the future, Alec. And it is foolish of you to attempt such insight.”

End of “Over the River”

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