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Fiction, Short Fiction

Harold & Yes Dear

by: J. Dennis McKay

It's raining. It's 6:30 in the morning and I'm standing beside a bus stop. In the rain. I stamp my feet to warm them up, but mostly manage to just slosh water a little further up my pant leg.

The bus comes and I check my watch as I get on and sit down. Two minutes late. Not that I'm the kind of person who gets into a not that the bus is two minutes late. It's just that I'm not the sort of person who usually rides the bus. My car is going to be in the shop for two weeks, and I figured I could brave the experience for two weeks.

Sitting, wet, in a smelly bus as it bumps through Vancouver, I'm not so sure. I'm thinking it'll cost half my daily wages in cab fare, but it might just be worth it.

The third stop after mine the bus pulls up, the doors open, and slowly, almost with imperceptible movement, a frail elderly couple mounts the stairs and pauses at the top for the lady to fumble through her purse for her seniors card. "That's alright, Mrs Simmons, I know you have the passes in there."

"Why thank you son," she nods and the two turn to creep down the aisle. The driver waits until he can see them seated before smiling, releasing the brake and turning into traffic.

Regular customers, I guess.

The bus has only just pulled back into traffic when their conversation starts.

"Harold," she opens up softly. Not shrill or nag-like, just a soft way to get his attention.

"Yes, dear?" He asks back with what sounds of genuine curiosity.

"Did you remember to turn off the coffee pot?" She asks, only a slight trace of worry in her voice.

"Yes dear." he replies with that calm soothing voice only a grandfather could possess.

Her face relaxes slightly (I hadn't even notice it tense), she smiles, nods to herself, and is quiet for perhaps 10 or 15 seconds.


"Yes dear?"

"Did you remember to grab the phone bill off the counter? This will be a wasted trip if you didn't."

"Yes, dear."

A pause.


"Yes dear?"

"We're going to visit Sis today. She just had her hair done. Remember to compliment her on it."

"Yes dear."

Another pause.


"Yes dear?"

"Did you remember to take your pills?"

"Yes dear."

"And you brought your pills for lunch?"

"Yes dear."

And so on. For forty five minutes not a single minute passes without a quiet, but urgent query, each one answered with a re-assuring "Yes dear." By the time my stop has arrived, the constant questioning is starting to drive me nuts, and I pity the man who must surely endure this for days on end.


It's 6:30 am, again. It's raining. Again. I'm waiting at the bus stop, again.

I tilt my head back to enjoy the light drizzle as it washes over my face, and rock back and forth on my heels idly as I wait for the bus to be two minutes late. It's been two minutes late for the past two weeks, and I would be utterly disappointed if it chose today, our last day of rendezvous, to be on time.

It has rained every day. The bus has been two minutes late everyday.

After I get on (two minutes late, right on time) and take the same seat I've had for two weeks, I sit, and realize that even after two weeks, I'll miss this little morning routine. I won't miss being wet. I won't miss the extra half hour it adds onto my schedule at the beginning and end of every day, I won't miss the smell of the bus or the uncomfortable seat. I'll miss all of it.

And three stops later, what I will miss, in and of itself, comes on the bus.

"That's alright, Mrs Simmons, I know you have the passes in there."

"Why thank you son," she nods and the two turn to creep down the aisle. The driver waits until he can see them seated before smiling, releasing the brake and turning into traffic.


"Yes dear?"

"Did you turn off the coffee pot?"

"Yes dear."

I tune out the daily standards and wait for the juicy stuff. It's Friday. Friday's a big day and "Yes dear" asks her questions slightly more quickly. Friday is matinee at the movies, dinner out, and fresh veggies from Granville Island. But first they'll go visit Herb, Harold's brother.

That's what they did last week. And their schedule has been lockstep with the previous week so far. Monday: bills and Sis. Tuesday: fresh meat and cribbage at the activity center. Wednesday: shopping (picking out things for the house and closet, then hiding them behind the counter until Senior's day at the end of the month), which is a full day. Thursday: dry goods from the baker's, pastries and tea with Nan.

And now Friday again.


"Yes dear?"

"Did you remember to clip the coupons for the theater?"

Yes dear," Harold re-assures her, and gives that gentle little half pat on her knee, so small it took me three days to notice.

And I sit across from these two, and realize that neither one of them would change a single thing. That "Yes dear" will always be there to remind him, keep track of all the little things, and Harold will be there for her, always re-assuring, always having done everything in advance and there's no need to check really but all the same what if he forgot and...


"Yes dear?"

"Did you get my cherry sweets for the movies? They don't sell them in the theatre anymore."

"Yes dear."


. .