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 rest.
Opportunities like this had been getting fewer and further between in the past 3 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 20 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 20 years earlier, 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 dread in everything she did.
Emily could swear the empty seat was mocking her from across the table. 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 6 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 things had changed. 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.
*"American Gods" by Neil Gaimen