le Misérable by Fred Osuna

I read the last line and close the book with a smack. “That ends that section,” I tell him. “Coming up is the chapter titled ‘The Ancient History of the Sewers of Paris.’ We’ll read that tomorrow.”

He doesn’t reply. I know he’s not asleep. I set the book under the nightstand where I’ll find it in the morning. I grab the remote and turn the television on. I find “Jeopardy” and turn up the volume. He stares straight ahead at the screen.

I make a few phone calls from the chair beside his bed. It’s hard to hear – Alex is talking loudly – so I compete. The old man doesn’t seem to notice. I change the channel. It’s an old Bogart flick. He watches it, no flinching, no emotion.

When the movie ends, I rifle through the CDs. There’s a Mahler 2nd, the cover a beautiful art deco mosaic. I slip it in the boombox on the bureau, turn it up high so I can hear the soft parts clearly. Is he listening?

The back door opens – it’s Marti, back from grocery shopping. I shout a Hello, go help her unload the bags. We chat over the music, which is booming down the hallway from the bedroom.

Finished, I go to his room. I tell him I’m going. “See you at noon,” I yell in his ear, so he’ll hear me. He stares forward. I leave.

The old man closes his eyes and thinks of smiling. In silence.


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Filed under Fred Osuna

7 responses to “le Misérable by Fred Osuna

  1. I get the distinct feeling that all the old man wants is to be left alone. I think everyone can relate to this at some point. Nicely done.

  2. Al McDermid

    What a curse. You have those around you misunderstand your needs and not be able to do anything about it. Well done.

  3. So much going on around the characters, the noise, the movement, then the bliss of silence.

  4. Kim Hutchinson

    “thinks of smiling…” The ending brings it home.

  5. Nice story, I like the end a lot.

  6. grey johnson

    I love the fact that he thinks of smiling. Leaves me wondering if or what he could have said or done all along.

  7. Pingback: Week #32 – Silence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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