Out Of Focus

In her Last Will & Testament she signed with her solicitor Wilma left everything to her son and divorced daughter, enough to support them and her grandchildren for their lifetimes. She entered hospital shortly after and, upon being diagnosed with a terminal illness, she was discharged to spend her final months at home with her family.

When she returned home her daughter had moved into the master bedroom Wilma had shared with her late husband throughout their thirty-three years of marriage. Her daughter and her children now occupied the main floor and upstairs bedrooms.

Her son, who never held a steady job in his life, had also moved into the house, spending much of his time helping himself to food in the kitchen and lounging on the couch in the living-room watching the sports channels in front of the TV.

Wilma was relocated to the sunless, shadowy spare room in the basement with its narrow, above sight-line, cage-like, casement windows secured from break-in with iron bars.

She shared the small room with Michael, the white rat her grandchildren had selected to bring home from the pet store. The animal surpassed the other choices preferred by their mother who secretly could not stand the sight, sound and smell of the rat, scratching and scurrying about in its iron cage. Even worse, she couldn't stand that she anxiously waited for her daughter to appear with a washcloth and basin so she could clean herself and her soiled nightgown. So she sat wrapped in a worn blanket on the damp, lumpy, mildewed sleeping-bag laying across the rickety, pulled out sofa-bed.

The rat’s red eyes glowered through the gloom like two glowing orbs of a devil incarnate creature watching to catch the moment of her soul’s fluttering flight from her frail figure.

With failing sight, Wilma asked her son and daughter to pick up stronger prescription eyeglasses from her optometrist. “You don’t need new glasses, Mom,” they bluntly told her, “it’s a waste of money now.”

She spent her final time on earth consumed with the overwhelming feeling of floating in indiscernible space  surrounded by blurred, satellite-like figures, featureless faces and frightening forms. While  her eyes were out of focus, she clearly saw her children for the first time for who they really were.


Out Of Focus


Lawrence E. Collins travels, hikes, fishes and writes from his hometown, St. John’s, NL. His stories have been published in magazines, including Canadian Stories Magazine, ‘The Dress’, Vol 17 No. 96, April/May, 2014, ‘Ebenezer's Party’, feature story, Vol 17 No. 99, Oct/Nov, 2014, at www.canadianstories.net [Archives 2014], and ‘Sidney’, Vol 18 No. 102, April/May, 2015.
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