The young boy peeked around the corner at his grandfather sitting on the couch. The old man was quietly reading the newspaper. The floorboard beneath the boy gave a quiet creak, giving him away.
The grandfather looked up, curious eyes creasing into a smile. “What are you doing, Jim-Jim?”
“Oh, nothing…” Jim stepped out from around the corner.
Jim’s grandfather didn’t like the look on Jim’s face. “What’s the matter, son?”
Jim sheepishly stepped forward. “You’re gonna die.”
The old man chuckled quietly. “Come give Grandpa a hug.” The boy did as he was asked, hugging tighter than normal. He dropped onto the couch beside his grandfather. “So where’s all this coming from?”
“I don’t know… Mama’s been talking about your health a lot lately. She looks sad and worried.”
Grandpa sighed. “I never wanted to put any of you through this. Yes, Jim. I will die. Not today though, if I can help it!”
“Why, though? It’s so unfair.”
“It can be. For people like me, it’s just a natural part of life playing out. You’re born, you live your life, and then you fade.”
“Yes, son. Folks grow older, they go out less. They get… quieter. Younger folk, they don’t notice so much. One day their grandfather just isn’t there anymore.
“Remember that, Tim-Tim. Appreciate the time you have with me. There will come a day where it will be my turn to go.”
There were tears in the young boys eyes. “But I don’t want you to go!”
Grandpa rubbed Tim’s back. “I know, honey. We all gotta go sometime, but then I’ll be with your Gram again. We’ll both be watching after you, then.”
Tim sniffled. “Promise?”
“Promise.” Grandpa rubbed at his chest. “I hate getting old, though. Be a good boy and get my medication on the stand over there, would you?”
“Okay.” Grandpa scritched his head. Tim smiled. “I love you, Grandpa.” He went for the medicine, as asked.
“I love you too, Sport.”
Tim picked up the medication and examined the label. The prescription had expired two months ago. Tim turned around. “Grandpa?” He stared at the empty spot on the couch where the old man had sat such a short while ago. “I miss you.”