They walked out into the backyard. It was elevated, overlooking the lake, with an old-timey stone banister to prevent elderly patients from tumbling down into the water.
They had had lunch, and now she held him by an elbow, leading him carefully past a flower bed and then past a bench. They went farther back, to where picnic tables were, with chess and checker boards.
“Right here, honey,” she said, helping him into a chair.
He didn’t say anything. He hadn’t been speaking for some months now. She doubted he realized where he was, or who he was, for that matter.
“It’s a simple game,” she said, setting up checkers on the board. They played every time she visited, and every time she had to teach him. “I’ll go first, look.”
He did, absently staring at the board, as she moved a piece. She waited, but he did nothing.
A couple passed them then, holding a picnic basket, and she smiled at them. They sat at a table behind them, close to the banister, about to have their lunch.
She moved one his pieces.
He was looking at her, or maybe past her. She hoped it was the former, because she had put on that dress he always liked, the blue one that left her shoulders bare.
“Well, let me tell you how my day was, then,” she said, and started speaking.
Behind them, the couple was unloading their basket: fruit, a drink in a glass bottle, some snacks . . .
A smile touched his lips, because this was the one thing he remembered. All those years ago, her sitting opposite him, talking. “I went to the market,” she was saying, “and there was this small café, and music was playing, our favorite song and then there was this dog a greyhound and then…”
He remembered glancing past her bare shoulder, and there were green apples on the table in the background, three of them, ripe and perfect. And there was a grinder, green and white, pulling the still life together, fixed in the moment. And the sound of pouring wine over her voice, like music to go with the image. He wasn’t quite sure if it was a painting he’d seen, the only picture that had stuck with him through all these years. But he knew now that it wasn’t.
He looked at her, and she stopped talking, and then he smiled.
DANIEL WARNER is a published comic book writer and a ghostwriter. He has been working as a ghostwriter for several years, writing in all genres, and has worked on the Masks comic book series for Rats and Crows Publishing. He has also self-published two books — Masks and Danny’s Love Letters — and studies Creative Writing in Orlando, FL. You can follow him at facebook.com/danny00110010