Emily: "'Wednesday said, "You have already lost everything. I am offering you the chance to take
something back." The fire blazed high as he spoke....'"*
Emily glanced over to her grandfather's sleeping form a few feet from where she read to him. His breathing
had been deep and even for at least a half an hour, a good sign that he was finally getting some much-needed
Opportunities like this had been getting fewer and further between in the past three weeks. The cancer had
been spreading rapidly since Kenji had been brought home from the hospital. Emily decided to take advantage
of the situation and get her first meal in over fourteen hours.
The offerings of the refrigerator were unappealing, but Emily knew she had to eat to keep her strength up if
she was going to continue to help her grandfather in his final days.
Some twenty years earlier, when she'd been no more than eight years old, Emily had stood in this same kitchen
watching her grandmother make breakfast for the family. Visiting her grandparents had always been a short
respite from the chaos of growing up, a place where she always felt warm, safe, and welcome.
Now, while things were still familiar, they had taken on the feeling of a dream. Everything seemed smaller,
and while she still felt safe and welcomed here, there was an undercurrent of finality in everything she did.
Emily could swear the empty seat was mocking her from across the table. There had been so many meals alone,
her grandfather still sick behind just a few inches of wall. This morning's pancakes were as cold and
tasteless as they'd been for the past three months, but she knew the alternative could be much worse. She only
hoped that her grandfather's suffering wouldn't go on for much longer.
Her thoughts drifted back over the last year, and she couldn't believe how much her life had changed. A few
short months ago, she would have thought it impossible that she’d leave a life she was sure she’d lose her
soul to. Becoming her grandfather’s caretaker had been as much a blessing as a curse, and it pained her to
know she could have run here all along. She felt foolish for thinking this haven of her childhood had ever
gone away. Just as she was beginning to lose herself in the flow of warm water and glistening suds, the
utter silence from the other room startled her back to the present. She hurried from the kitchen, dread
spreading its way outward from the core of her being.
*"American Gods" by Neil Gaimen