Lollie and Mack—by Elaine Bonow
“I really don’t do too well this time of the year, do I?” Lollie said to herself. She went into the kitchen, grabbed the bottle of half-finished ten-dollar Pinot Gregio and poured herself a glass right to the top. She looked at the clock. It read 5:27. She stood over by the big kitchen window which looked out over Lake Washington and watched the dismal grey day fade into black.
Lollie always felt this way at Halloween. She thought it might be a rupture into a past life as a druid or some follower of the Cult of Persephone. Each October she physically felt as if she was being dragged down into the depths of Hades, where she was doomed to live for part of the year, in her black stone castle surrounded by those hideous black Popular trees.
“Oh shit, here I go again sinking into a depression. It’s especially bad since Mack died.” Lollie drank a goodly portion of the chilled wine. “I wish I could shake this feeling. I wish I could talk to someone about this, someone like Mack.” She stood lost in thought for a few seconds and thought that the Pinot would have to be her boon companion.
Because of the remote location of the house, almost like the black house of Hades, Trick or Treaters rarely made it down the driveway. She settled down and opened a bag of Halloween Milky Way miniatures. She thought back to that terrible day when Mack came home from an unscheduled doctor’s appointment.
“What’d he say Mack?”
“Well baby, the news is not good. You’d better sit down. It’s cancer.”
Lollie felt as she had been slammed in the stomach. Their lives up to this point had been easy with no major setbacks no problems really. “Oh dear, this isn’t just a…a…”
“I’m sorry Lollie. I didn’t want this to happen to us.”
“I know, but it’s not a death sentence. You can get cured. After all, this is the twenty-first century.”
“Doc Baldwin thinks it is very treatable. But there is no magic bullet.”
“Well, I’m going to hope for the best.” And hope they did. Mack went in for all the standard treatments and in a longish while he improved and their hope was full filled.
It was a year and a half ago when Mack had a small accident. It was nothing really. He tripped and fell going down the front stairs. At first it seemed that he had only twisted his ankle. Lollie made him ice bags, elevated his leg and wrapped it just like it said to do on the WebMD Internet page for a simple sprain.
Mack fussed about all the fussing Lollie was doing insisting that she was over reacting to a stupid accident. But the ankle got worse, more swollen and inflamed. He could barely use his leg. He would scream aloud from the pain whenever he had to put any weight on it.
They both decided to go back to the doctor. His doctor insisted on admitting him into the hospital immediately. The efficient nurse installed an IV and pumped him full of morphine. Lollie installed herself in the bedside chair and awaited the arrival of Doc Baldwin who both Mack and Lollie called Baldy behind his back.
“One year ago, almost to the hour.” Lollie said aloud. The TV was busy talking to itself on the cooking channel with the sound on mute. Bright tattooed choreographed hopefuls were fussing with cupcake frosting that looked like uneatable pseudo monsters while skinny mean mugging models tasted a morsel of cake balanced on one tine of a fork.
Lollie turned the channel and drank some more wine. Just because she could she put a fake log into the fireplace and lit the paper until it flared up. “Ah, that’s better even though it’s just the start of the darkness.” Sitting back watching the flames she continued the path into her bittersweet past. “Oh Mack, how I miss you so much now that you are gone for good.”
Baldy’s diagnosis was bleak this time hopeless really. In the past cancer treatment Mack had already been radiated until he just about glowed in the dark. No amount of medical Marijuana or as it is now referred to as medical Cannabis helped him through the devastating effects of chemotherapy. Lollie always thought of Chernobyl when Mack had to go in for treatment. “Here we go to Chernobyl,” she would tell him trying to make him laugh.
Baldy was straight forward, “I could promise you a miraculous cure Mack. I could keep you both hopeful that if you took this, drank that, tried the same treatment that Jimmy Carter did, and he is still alive mind you. But with this invading species I would be prolonging the inevitable. What I want you two to do is agree on the future and how you want your lives to be.”
The next six months were a special gift for the two of them. They existed on an extraordinary plateau and unlike others they had some precious time to reflect. It was a space for Mack between life and death and Lollie was his special guest. They became closer than they had ever been and even closer in intuition. She could read his thoughts like she was reading written words. When he passed she was the specially chosen handmaiden ushering him into the great beyond.
“Has it been a whole year?” Lollie sighed. “What was it he told me?”
“Lollie, I don’t have much time but I need to tell you something.” He never got around to telling her. The days darkened and Mack died on October 31st.
Lollie finished the Pinot Grige turned the TV off and turned herself into bed. As usual, absolutely no Trick or Treaters this year so the bags of candy stayed intact except for the three, miniature Milky Way wrappers dropped by her feet. The fire embers were controlling their burning as they were programmed to do.
Lollie stumbled into slumber. Just before the late dawn of the Day of The Dead, Lollie was awakened from a dream. Mack’s voice loud and clear said, “You’ve got to make easy hard and hard easy.”
Lollie realized that this message was what Mack wanted to tell her so long ago. She didn’t know what it all meant but was so happy to know that he was still with her and she wouldn’t be alone anymore.