Academic journal article African American Review

Soon There Will Be None

Academic journal article African American Review

Soon There Will Be None

Article excerpt

Marian had waited until Sunday morning at breakfast to tell him, putting it off all week. Now that the time had come, she couldn't hold back any longer. Sitting at the kitchen table across from him, she gazed out the window into the face of a typical bright spring Seatonville morning. The lawn would soon need its first mowing.

She sipped her coffee, unmindful that it had grown cold. Finally plucking up her courage, she parted the silence between them. "Frank--."

Intent on taking apart the Sunday paper, he gave no indication that he heard. "Can't find the sports page," he grumbled to himself in disgust, "for all the damn advertisements."

Over the paper, she could see the upper half of his brown face creased in annoyance, and the crinkly hair graying at the top in a circle like a crown. Taking a deep breath, she said, "Kevin's coming home today."

Abruptly he stiffened. Nothing about him seemed to move for a long moment. After a while, the words came out almost inaudibly, "He's...better?"

"No." She set down her cup. "Worse."

His fingers loosened around the paper. Parts of it fell to the floor. "Why wait until now to tell me? His father."

She shrugged, trying to make it seem like no big thing. "I didn't want to worry you," she lied. Actually, it was the fear of telling him. How he might react. What effect it would have on him.

"Worry me? Considering all we've been through with the other one?" Sadly he shook his head. Leaving the half-eaten food on his plate, he got up from the table. "I'm going to get ready for church."

She began to clear off the dishes, scraping the leftover sausage and pancakes into the garbage disposal. Sunday breakfasts in the past used to be family gatherings. During the week, it was usually get as one could. She took a hurried cup of coffee before leaving for work at the social services office; Kevin and Cal gulped down cereal and milk before school; and Frank, fortified with juice, would leave to give his football team an early workout prior to classes.

She placed the dishes in the almond dishwasher that matched the refrigerator and stove. She would turn it on later. Then, picking up the paper from the floor, she neatly folded it back in order and carried it into the paneled family room extending from the kitchen. There, she put it on the coffee table. The large photo-graph of the boys on the mantle of the fireplace drew her attention. They were in college at Morehouse when it was taken--Cal, a junior, and Kevin, a freshman. Kevin looked pensive as usual in his shirt and tie. He had her reddish skin with deep-set brown eyes. Kevin always carried the weight of the world in his thoughts. How he must be overburdened now with his own.

Cal, smiling in his sweater with the big M on it, was the image of his father with a broad, round open face. He had just started growing a moustache. Easy going Cal was the one who had fulfilled his father's dream of becoming a professional basketball player. In his father's time, there hadn't been too many opportunities, no matter how good you were. Cal, the winner--until he finally lost. Tears watered her eyes. You give birth to them, you rear them, but you never dream they might go before you do. Isn't youth supposed to be synonymous with longevity?

"Marian, aren't you going to get ready?" Frank was back in the kitchen knotting his tie, the hideous purple-and-yellow one he knew she disliked that clashed outrageously with his brown suit. Was choosing it an unconscious sign of pending confrontation?

"I'm not going to church, Frank. I have to meet Kevin in an hour at the airport."

"Ah-h-h yes, Kevin." He started to the back door and stopped, holding tightly to the knob. "I don't know if I can go through all that again."

"I know," she said quietly.

"No, you don't know!" His voice raised in bitterness. "You just don't."

The kitchen door slammed as he went out to the garage. …

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