Night Walking (part 13)

The next night, Phil asked Sandy if Tammy could go with him to the hospital. After Patty agreed to watch the two little sisters so Sandy and her boyfriend could go out, she agreed.

Tammy insisted on holding the shoebox with Henry inside as they made their way to the hospital’s fifth floor, and his mother’s shared room. The room was dimly lit, and her roommate was dozing with the TV on low.

Phil pulled the curtain for privacy around his mother’s bed and leaned close to his mother’s ear. “Hi, mom, I brought a couple of visitors with me tonight.”

“Hi,” Tammy said softly. “We brought Henry for you.”

Arlene Mertz made no sign that she knew they were there. Tammy looked up at Phil who nodded for her to take the lid off the box. She did, and Henry hissed, running into a corner of the box to hide under the towel there.

“She moved,” Tammy whispered.

“When?” Phil hadn’t seen anything.

“When Henry hissed,” Tammy said. “Her hand moved.”

Then Phil saw too. His mother’s fingers twitched, the first movement he’d seen since she’d come out of surgery. His eyes teared as he said against her ear, “Henry’s going to live, mom. Tammy and I will put him back where he belongs in just a couple more weeks. He’s growing every day.” And he painted a picture for his mother of Henry living to a ripe old age for an opossum. Throughout the story, his mother moved three more times, but when he kissed her cheek good night, she was still again.

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