Small Kindnesses

The sun sidled into the room while Meredith was looking out the window waiting for the Price Is Right to come on. He coughed delicately and sat down on the couch next to her. Out of the corner of her eye she studied him. He was a skinny twig of a boy, or anyway he didn’t look more than 16, except for the grey in his hair, with a long nose like the bust of Caesar over the doorway and black as the stone in the ring on her finger.

“Doing good work today,” she said, because it was true and she hoped that hearing it would make him want to do good work more often.

“Thanks.” He had a slow voice, slow as the bumblebees she could see moving through the window, fat and swollen with pollen. When the breeze blew the room filled with the scent of clover. He sat there with her, watching the light change in the garden. When shadows pooled on the lawn and the mountains in the distance were bronze with retreating afternoon he stood up apologetically. “Well,” he said.

Without thinking, she turned her head toward him. “Oh, don’t go!” The flare of his smile was the last thing she saw, the vanishing moon of his smile.