Goodbye Edward

This is another excerpt from my novel. It is the scene in which Edward (the father of Leon, the character the last excerpt centered around) is taken away to the sanatorium. Poor guy.

“Edward had been setting the table for Sunday breakfast when he heard the cloud of voices outside. Among the quiet infrastructure of the forest, it was hard to be hidden. He spotted them through the window, four men with groomed hair and all wearing identical spectacles (perhaps, he conceded, this detail wove into the narrative later, a false remembrance). Gripping the top of one of the oak chairs, Edward steadied himself against the wave of distress. Hanna must have been caught in the kitchen as she greeted the men outside, shaking hands with each as if she practiced the exchange, even smiling as she chatted with them. Watching the moment of transaction whittled Edward’s remaining energy—he could hear the creaks of the old chair defending itself, but he did not know his next move. One consumptive in Coloma had resisted mandatory confinement, fleeing to the water for escape. Edward keenly remembered that the man had drowned, fished out by a pair of young fishermen, an unwise end to a cowardly existence. Besides, Edward realized, he did not have the time to race down the stone steps to the lake—they would be on him by the time he reached the cleared sand. He did not want stories of his failure passed along the nearby cities through the newspapers, old women snorting with laughter as they spoke of him as they dressed their hair.

Instead, he walked the hallway to the kitchen and out the door—it was as simple as that, he thought, a path he made many times. At the thud of the door, Hanna’s face glanced over her shoulder—amazement but no sadness in it. Edward was on the ground as soon as the hands clapped around his shoulders. Sprawled on the ground, he hoped Hanna’s cool, painted lips would calm his own, which barely covered his clattering teeth. She was good-looking in her wispy white dress so early in the morning; her face rested beneath circular hazel eyes, glinting and trusting; she did have a bit of a tan after all, risen on her face to the fronts of her cheeks. He ought to apologize for lying about his health, continue to love her, make children in his own image—his legs limp beneath him, the men dragged Edward down the gravel road to the waiting automobile just as the leaves began to toss down from an upturned breeze. It would bring rain in a few hours, no more than three. For a moment he floated, transcending this spell of horror—the wave receded and he no longer felt scared of this place. Hanna on one side, he on the other—this is how they swung Leon in the air. A boy had never been happier.”

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