Note from Brian:
“A Mother’s Love” is our September 2017 story, and it’s one of the original stories I originally wrote just for Walking With Ghosts, but I ended up sending it to Lilja for his Shining in the Dark anthology because I couldn’t say “no” to being part of that line-up and I had nothing else ready. The story has now been translated into 6 or 7 languages for other markets thanks to Lilja’s anthology, and seeing your name and story in another language never gets old (at least to me!). As always, please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you’d rather do that instead of commenting on this actual post. Thank you again for all of your support! — BJF
“A Mother’s Love”
by Brian James Freeman
Andrew stopped short of where the hallways on the fourth floor of the Sunny Days Hospice Home crossed. Two nurses were gabbing around the corner and he didn’t care for the people who worked here. The employees liked to chat with anyone they spotted, and at first he thought they were being friendly, but soon enough he realized they were just being nosy. Who were you here to see, what was your relationship, were you approved by the family — stupid, invasive questions.
His mother was alone right now, and Andrew hated when he wasn’t by her side, but he was doing the best he could under the circumstances. He worked to pay their bills and keep their lives in some semblance of order as hers was coming to an end. He ran errands, buying her favorite cigarettes even after the doctor told her to drop the bad habit while she still could (as if that would make any difference at this late date), and he undertook any tasks that simply had to be done.
Once the nurses continued on their rounds, Andrew scurried along as quietly as he could, trying not to draw attention to himself. He remembered his first visit to this building, to a clean and well-lit office near the lobby where he begged the admissions lady, Miss Clarence, to please accept his mother into the facility, to please help him move her from his childhood home where he could no longer care for her properly.
Miss Clarence examined the paperwork Andrew completed in his thick block handwriting, and of course the first issue raised was whether he would have the money required, but he said he could cover the fees if they let him pay in installments until he could sell the house. That had to be possible, right?
It was, and Andrew felt relief wash over him, but then Miss Clarence surprised him with a bigger problem he hadn’t anticipated: the lack of available beds at Sunny Days for new patients.
“What do you mean?” Andrew asked, his hands shaking. “Isn’t everyone here dying?”