I’d thought he was thirty-five. Then for a long time, twenty-nine. Then he told me he was twenty-two and his grandparents went on cruises a lot. They wanted someone in the house while they were gone, so he did that for them. “I keep forgetting to feed the cat,” he said. He shook his head and smiled a little, and that was how I knew he was all right.
We started going to my place. When he left, I was the operator of a highly specialized expert tour. Here’s where he stood in the foyer, afraid to progress further into the house. Here’s an empty juice box he drank. Here’s the door I opened for him, and out that window is the tree he looked at instead of meeting me in the eye.
Now I book hotel rooms. There isn’t anything to look at in the Holiday Inn Express, and we both know it.
“Thanks very much,” he says when he leaves. It’s like I’ve thrown him a birthday party and no one had to remind him what to say. When he’s gone for good, no one will say that to me again. I hope he mixes it up once. I hope he says it’s been a pleasure, or a joy. Or that he’ll miss me. See me soon.
But that’s all there is. Thanks very much.
-refers from grandchildren in the fiction piece Golden by Dawn Corrigan