The eerie quietness gnawed at her as her wrinkled feet shuffled in the empty hallway. “I shouldn’t have said yes” she mumbled angrily to herself, “Irresponsible. Why didn’t I go too?”
The doorbell rang just as she stepped into the bathroom, making her swear to herself and walk down the small stairway cursing everything in her sight. Her temper turned from short to bad, much to the inconvenience of anyone who had something to do with her.
“Good afternoon Tricia,” Roger smiled at her, handing her the newspaper of the day. Even though his shift ended at 9 am every day, he had been coming to deliver the newspaper at 1 in the afternoon regularly because he had got to know what had happened a month ago. He had been surprised when no one answered the door even though it was locked from inside, and the next day the newspaper was lying in the same spot he had left it.
“How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t read the news?” she glared at him, anger visible in her tired eyes, “You don’t need to do me a favor by coming here after your hours.”
He looked at the bags under her eyes and her silver hair falling 0on her shoulders in a tangled mess which always used to be curled in at the ends and frown lines appearing at the places where wrinkles couldn’t impose their distasteful presence. He had once made a promise that he was now fulfilling but she was not supposed to know about it.
“I’m not doing you a favor,” he replied calmly, “I am doing it because it is a part of my job. I won’t feel satisfied with myself till I have delivered each and every newspaper that I’m supposed to.” She looked at him she knew there was something more to it and took the newspaper from my hand and held it like it was something precious. Her face softened as she looked at it and a hint of a smile came upon her face, but it disappeared as soon as she noticed that he was looking. She straightened up and held a stony expression and asked him if he’d like to come inside, just like every day, but that day he said yes and watched her stutter at the unfamiliar response.
After a moment, she managed to step aside so he could come in. With kind eyes and a balding head hid by a baseball cap, he was a father of three children for whom he worked three jobs a day. He had begun to lose his youth but what age couldn’t take away was his kindness. Knowing the emotions Tricia had to bear every waking moment, he wanted to help in whatever way he could and that’s what he was going to do as he stepped inside the house which still smelled of coffee and wood.
“I’ll bring you some coffee,” she almost said to herself, as if she didn’t need a reply. Opening the closet, she realized she hadn’t cleaned it for quite some time and dust had settled over all crockery. She eyed the familiar blue mug on the top shelf and almost reached out for it, but withdrew her hand as she didn’t feel quite ready. “Blue soothes me, and so does your coffee.” She closed eyes, smoothing her silver hair back and blinked to keep the tears away.
He drummed his fingers on the coffee table, feeling the envelope in his pocket distinctly, the corner digging into his thigh as if it was reminding him that his pocket was not where it belonged. He slipped it out and read the blue ink of the still stark white page. “Trish”. Walter had slipped this envelope into his hands a few months ago, “Give this to her if you ever feel that she needs me and I am not there.” Roger had been confused, not able to comprehend why he’d think that he wouldn’t be there. The question was “Why now?” He told me that he had gone to a grocery store last night but then a friend invited him over to his house and he couldn’t say no. Walter wasn’t carrying his phone and he didn’t realize that it was late. When he returned, Tricia was in a panic. She had called the grocery store, looked for him on the roads and was pacing restlessly when he came back. As soon as she saw him, she ran to him and hugged him tight, but then looked at him angrily and yelled at him, saying how worried she was. Walter told him that he managed to calm her that night but it made him wonder what would happen to her if he really wasn’t around. It worried him, so he wrote her a letter that would calm her and tell her that he would always be there, wanting a cup of her coffee and asking her to find his spectacles to read the newspaper.
It had touched Roger and he took the envelope readily, happy to help him. When Walter had an accident last month, he couldn’t survive more than a few hours. Roger didn’t quite know how Tricia was taking it, but he knew it couldn’t have been too well. He had seen them through the years, arguing, frowning at each other, but loving nevertheless.
When Roger found that she hadn’t picked up the previous day’s newspaper, he thought it was the right time to deliver the letter. She walked in the room with a coffee mug on a tray and kept it in front of him.
“Tricia, I have something for you.” He said, sliding the envelope across the table. She looked at the writing on the envelope and her face showed a frenzy of emotions as she got ahold of it and held it like her life depended on it. He got up from his chair, “I will give you some privacy, I’ll be right outside, whenever you want to talk.”
He picked up his cup and smiled at her, “Walter told me never to waste your coffee, only a few get this privilege.”
She looked up at him as he said it and her face broke into a smile mixed with melancholy and happiness.