by Beth Harar
He used to be a fine wine. Aged perfectly, his philosophies dripped of honeyed fruits and each thought had a unique aroma. People paid to taste his knowledge.
But today, as Marsha maneuvered around the worn furniture, she noticed that his eyes were pale, as if they’d sat too long in the sun. He was staring at a woman perched on the edge of the sofa across from him who was stroking a stuffed animal, crooning to it softly.
No response. Only vacant eyes, clouded with sediment.
His focus sharpened. “Is it time to go?” he croaked.
“No, Dad.” Marsha sat on the footstool in front of him and picked up his cracked hand. He smelled like dampened earth. “You pulled the fire alarm again yesterday.”
He frowned, but his eyes were bright. “Did you see me?”
“No, they called last night and told me you tried to run away. Down the street.”
“They can’t keep me here,” he spat, the vinegar returning as he jerked his hand away. “Why won’t you people take me out of here? I have patients to see.”
Marsha watched his trembling fingers reach towards the table next to him and closed her eyes. She’d seem him perform that same, absentminded act before, while he read his medical journals. But back then, he’d been searching for his wine glass.
“Would you like your water?”
“Please,” he murmured, his amber eyes becoming opaque. “I’m thirsty.”