h1

Nick Winkworth and Meghan Hunt

Winkworth Hunt R

Nick Winkworth
Not Forgotten

Made using Meghan Hunt’s story (below) as inspiration

The Old Man
By Meghan E. Hunt

-1-

At six, the old man teaches her to play poker.

They sit at the kitchen table while her grandmother cooks dinner and her baby brother watches intently and he teaches her the basics of cards. Aces are the highest, then kings, and so on. She likes the face cards best because they wink at her and whenever she has them in her hand she always seems to win. She picks up on it quickly and by the time dinner finds its way to the table, she’s beaten him ten times over and has accumulated a somewhat large pile of pennies.

He lets her keep the pennies, much to her mother’s chagrin. Her father, on the other hand, thinks it’s fantastic.

-2-

At eight, her grandmother passes away and the house changes. The old man’s smiles become rarer and it takes him longer to acknowledge things than it had before her grandmother had gone into the hospital and never came home. It lasts a year and then he is himself again.

Well, almost himself.

Even at nine, she knows he’s different. He has to be, her child mind reasons, because she is. Maybe no one notices it, maybe she never makes a show of it, but she is. Slightly cracked in the same way a beloved china teacup often is.

By the time she turns ten, it’s like the tide has come in and washed it all away. They move on.

-3-

She’s twelve when he teaches her how to bet perceptively during a poker game. They sit at the kitchen table with the deck of cards between them and a pile of pennies and he teaches her how to win intelligently.

“Don’t bet too high outright; they’ll know your hand is big and they’ll fold. You won’t get anywhere.”

He picks up his cards and, after considering them for a few seconds, tosses three pennies into the center.

She consults her cards – three sixes, a two, and a jack – and matches his bet.

“Dad says you were shot, back in the war.”

She doesn’t really know what the war was, but she knows it wasn’t Vietnam. Her dad was in Vietnam and the old man is much older than her dad.

He tosses out three cards, waits for her to toss out her two, and then deals them each replacements.

“Yep. In the leg.”

Her two new cards – another two and a seven – don’t really help and she adds three more pennies to the pile.

“Did it hurt?”

He matches her three pennies.

“Yep.”

“Who shot you?”

“Germans.”

“Did they know you?”

She doesn’t mean the question to be sarcastic, but that’s how it comes out and she freezes.

The old man looks at her over the tops of his glasses and she feels herself blush.

“Grandpa,” she starts, hoping to apologize for her momentary lapse in respect.

He surprises her by laughing, loud and hard.

“Nope, they didn’t,” he says, the laughter still in his voice. “Probably a good thing, too.” He tosses his cards down – four eights – and leans back a little in his chair.

She puts her cards down.

“Because if they had they’d have shot you twice?”

He laughs even louder and pulls the pile of pennies toward him.

“Been talking to your dad, have you?”

She thinks back to what he said about keeping her cards to herself. She looks at him with what she hopes is a blank expression and shrugs.

“Maybe.”

-4-

She’s nineteen and she knows something is off.

It’s Christmas Eve and they’re up at the house to exchange gifts and visit. This is her second Christmas in college and she’s glad to be home. The old man is happy to see her and he’s moving around fairly well, despite the fact that his leg has gotten more arthritic and he’s a year older than he was last Christmas. They’ve gotten him a new cane and a really warm flannel shirt that she picked out and his favorite candy. It’s a simple Christmas, but he’s a simple man and she knows he’ll love his simple gifts.

“How’s college?” he asks her when she sits down next to him and kisses his cheek.

He smells clean and his cheek is scratchy from a 5 o’clock shadow he forgot to shave off.

“It’s good. I’m glad to be home.”

He looks at her and his eyes don’t look focused and for a minute the world stops spinning.

“Liz?” he asks in a soft voice.

Liz was her grandmother, a woman who died eleven years earlier.

She shakes her head very slowly.

“No, grandpa, it’s Meg.”

His eyes come back to rest on her face and he smiles, reaches out and pats her cheek.

“You look good, kid,” he says.

She smiles.

“Thanks. You look pretty good, too, old man.”

He laughs and she tells herself that she imagined the earlier moment. It’s easier than accepting that the old man is getting old.

-5-

She’s twenty-one when they move him into a home.

It’s a combination of Alzheimer’s and a stroke no one knew he’d had and the realization that they can’t take care of him anymore. To her it feels like they’re abandoning him, though she’d never speak those words aloud to her family. It isn’t her place and she doesn’t know everything, only what filters down to her from her mom.

She decides to visit him on her next trip home. She drives to the nursing home and tries not to hyperventilate in the parking lot. She isn’t good with sick people, isn’t good with hospitals and what they mean. It’s hard when it’s someone she knows and it’s terrifying when it’s someone she loves.

She asks for his room at the front desk and is led to it by a nurse she knows, the mother of a boy she went to high school with and who she sees occasionally when she’s home visiting. The nurse tries to prepare her for it, tries to comfort her before the door even opens, but she very gently pushes the older woman away. It’s something she needs to do on her own – she hasn’t told anyone she’s here for the fear they would have wanted to come with her.

She opens the door and says hello.

He is positioned on the bed, sitting upright and staring at his hands. At the sound of her voice, he looks up and a wide smile crosses his features. It makes her happy to see him smile and she returns it with one of her own.

“Hi Liz.”

Her smile falters just slightly.

“It isn’t Elizabeth, grandpa. It’s Meg. Your granddaughter.”

He looks at her and his demeanor changes. He isn’t smiling at her and the expression on his face isn’t one she’s ever seen before. She imagines it’s the same expression he turned on the Germans all those years ago and it makes her heart stop.

“I don’t have a granddaughter,” he says, his voice cold and confused.

She backs out, closes the door, and runs to her car. She doesn’t speak for a day and when she finally does, she tells her father and it is the hardest conversation they’ve ever had. The doctors ask her not to come back and she can’t help but feel like it’s her turn to abandon the man who taught her how to bluff  and how to read the box scores for a Red Sox game and what fresh blueberries taste like straight from the bush.

It breaks her heart.

-6-

She’s twenty-five when the old man passes away.

She flies home for the funeral and a very somber Thanksgiving and she spends two days trying very hard to be strong for her dad. Her brother helps, as does her mom, and she manages to make it through the week without too much sadness.

It is two weeks later, when she has a chance to slow down, that it hits her. She’s on the commuter train, on her way home, and she’s reading a book about baseball. She thinks about what he taught her and in a crowd of people she doesn’t know, she cries heavy, salty tears for the memory of her grandfather and the old man he once was.

——————————————————-

Winkworth_Hunt I

Nick Winkworth
Parasol
Inspiration piece provided to Meghan Hunt

Of Parasols and Old Reflections
By Meghan E. Hunt

He’s almost past the tent and its brightly colored Mexican ponchos when he catches a glimpse of himself in a mirror. It’s a small mirror, hung at head height so the tourists and afternoon walkers can look at themselves with cowboy hats perched on their round sunburned heads.

His first thought is that the man staring back at him is old, too old to be wearing those sunglasses, sporting that buzz cut.

His second thought is that he doesn’t know when the gray in his goatee arrived, each wiry hair a reminder of the years behind him. He doesn’t move from his place before the mirror, doesn’t look away, just simply stares at himself and wonders where the time went.

“Can I help you?” a young woman asks, startling him slightly. He hadn’t known anyone was inside the shade of the tent.

He looks away from his reflection and focuses his eyes, hidden behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses, on her. She’s tall and slender, but far from willowy like most of the women who wander around this flea market. In the dimness of the tent he can vaguely make out that her skin is tan and that there are well defined muscles in her arms and perfectly shaped black star tattoos down the right side of her neck. Both her muscles and her tattoos are exposed (and excellently highlighted) by the green sundress she’s wearing and he finds himself wondering where the stars end. She has black hair and it’s piled high on her head, a pair of gold aviator sunglasses holding it in like a crown. She looks like she’s in her 20s, but he’s lived in this part of the country long enough to know that looks can be deceiving.

“Just looking,” he says quietly. He chances a glance back at the mirror and his eye catches something that it had missed earlier. A small yellow umbrella with bright blue ribs, perched on the upper edge of the mirror’s gilded frame, draws his interest. “What are these?” he asks, pointing to the umbrella and a green one above it.

The woman ventures out into the sun and stands next to him. The tattoos are more of a purple color in the sun, deep and regal against the bronze color of her skin. She slips her sunglasses down to cover her eyes but he manages to steal a glimpse of them before they disappear completely. They’re violet in color, like spring lilacs. He’s never seen anything like them.

She reaches up and pulls the pale yellow umbrella down from its perch, her bare arm brushing against his sweatshirt-covered shoulder as she moves past him. He catches the scent of lavender and firewood as the air around her shifts and his head goes fuzzy for a second or two.

“Parasols,” she says and spins the umbrella in her hand. The design on the fabric twists and turns, the colored flowers mixing into one large splatter pattern. The spinning pattern, combined with her heady perfume, makes him dizzy and he looks away, stares at the mirror until his vision stops moving. In his reflection he sees her move the parasol from her hands to her shoulder, rests it there so that the fabric is open behind her head.

“What are they for?” he asks, less because he cares and more because there’s something interesting about the woman and the way her eyes seem to glow behind the amber lenses of her sunglasses. He thinks that the more questions he asks, the more time she’ll spend answering him.

“Well,” she begins and a secretive smile passes her lips – perfect, bow-shaped lips the color of strawberries – before she continues. “Back in the Victorian age, women would use them to keep the sun off their skin.”

He thinks that he used to know this, once upon a different time, and so he nods like a knowledgeable man.

“Now that we’re all sun worshipers, though, parasols are more for decoration than anything else.” She shifts the parasol just slightly and her face slips into shadow. Laugh lines appear at the corners of her mouth and he becomes aware of the fact that she is, indeed, older than he thought she was.

He’s also aware of the fact that he can’t stop staring at her.

He’s been divorced for almost two years now and in those two years he hasn’t dated, not once. He hasn’t even looked at another woman outside the realm of friendship since his wife presented him with the papers to end their marriage and a desire to be independent. She needed her space, she told him. She’d outgrown him, had moved on to a different stage of life and had left him behind. She’d convinced him of the fact that he didn’t matter anymore and for two years he’s been living like an outdated antique, shelved and watching the world pass by.

This woman, though, with her star tattoos and violet eyes, has him reconsidering his usefulness.

“I’m Carolina,” she says and holds out her hand, the parasol still casting shadows between them. They’re inexplicably star shaped.

“George,” he says. He takes the offered hand in his own. It’s calloused in places he wasn’t expecting, but still soft and warm. He smiles without meaning to. “Nice to meet you.”

She smiles back, twirls the parasol gently and watches the shadows that splay across his chest. He notices she hasn’t released his hand, her grip still warm and firm.

“Strange question, considering we just met, but are you free for lunch?”

He chances a glance in the mirror. The same gray hair and sunglasses stare back at him, but there’s something different in the image, something younger.

Perhaps I’m not as old as I think I am.

“Sure,” he says with a wide grin and a shrug. “I’ve got all the time in the world.”
——————————————————-
Note: All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it. Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.

One comment

  1. […] ( Click here to see the SPARK6 page) […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: