Find Your Way Back Home

"Owie! It burnssss!" The eight-year old Anthony whined as Josephine rubbed the aloe vera ointment into the burned, red skin on his back. "Grandma, it hurts!"

She grunted. "Well, maybe if you'd have put on some sunscreen, then this wouldn't have happened, hmm?"

"But I did!"

"Hm. Well, you're lucky I love you a lot…"

"Well—" Anthony winced, feeling the piercing sensation of the gel. "Thank you…"

Josephine paused for a moment before chuckling quietly. "Well, you should know that I'll always be here to take care of you. Just take care of me when I'm an old wrinkleton too, heh!"

Anthony laughed, a smile breaking through his distressed frown. "Of course I will, Grandma!"



"Josephine? It's time for your medicine."

The ninety-three year old woman looked up, a warm smile spreading across her wrinkled face. "Ah, Stephanie. I'm so glad I could see you again…"

The nurse in front of her stepped closer. "I'm Nina, remember? Stephanie is your daughter."

The woman clasped her hands together, leaning forward in her chair. "Oh… I—" Suddenly, she burst into a violent cough, her lungs heaving. Nina ran over, setting down a cup filled with an assortment of pills, supporting Josephine as she wheezed.

She panted for a moment, every breath jagged, like repeated jabs to her fragile body. Her breathing slowed, and the nurse kneeled down, checking on her.

Their eyes met.

"Stephanie! I didn't know you were coming."

Josephine sat in her uncomfortable, lumpy bed, the coughing now incessant as she descended into dry-heaving, which echoed throughout the lonely nursing home.

But, in an instant, it stopped, and she felt… Warm.

She turned, looking over to the chair beside her. On it sat a solemn man, and— despite her poor vision— she recognized him.

"Anthony." A tear trickled down her cheek. "I thought that you couldn't visit anymore…"

The man stayed silent, reaching into the pocket of his grey suit, where he pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

Josephine— despite the strange flourishing feeling pulling her down like a peaceful heaviness on her body— found the strength to yell. "Anthony! You told me you quit those years ago!"

He paused, then tucked them back away. Standing, the man looked down at her.

"I'm so glad you're here—" The man leaned down, placing a finger on her lips.

She felt a sudden wave of tranquility, intensifying as she stared into the man's quiet eyes.

"I… I know," she whispered, only hearing her slow, controlled breathing as the man carefully held onto her hand, gripping it tightly.

Her eyes weakened, softly closing. Memories slowly bubbled up into her mind as it dipped further into a gentle aura of serenity.

A chill rang throughout the world as Josephine's soul floated from her lifeless body. The man watched as she danced around him, free from her stiff, limiting vessel. She hugged him, then turned, running off to the afterlife.

The man stood still for a moment.

He smiled, then disappeared.

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