(Inspired by this picture writing prompt from the Hedgebrook Twitter feed.)
Bart snapped a picture with his phone, his overactive mind already weighing the benefits and limitations of Clarendon vs. Sienna. This was not a #nofilter moment. The setting was as dreary as his mood. He wanted to be at Aunt Sandra's house as much as he wanted a hole in the head. He contemplated the origin of that archaic phrase as he swiped at his phone.
"You kids and your phones," his Aunt Sandra said as she approached. "I brought you out here to see your face, not the top of your head."
Bart didn't look up, defiantly protesting that he was summoned at all. "I'll just be a second."
She held out her hand. "Just for ten minutes so I can tell you something. Come on."
Her tone left no room for argument. Bart abandoned his picture posting and locked his phone before placing it in her palm. "Thank you," she said as she sat in the opposite patio chair.
Bart stared at her matching melamine pitcher and tumblers as she poured them lemonade. "If this is about what I did to my mom's car, you don't have to -"
"I have cancer."
Bart's head snapped up. Aunt Sandra was still pouring herself lemonade. "What?!" he sputtered.
His mother's hippie sister sipped her beverage, then said simply, "It's stage four pancreatic. They caught it too late. And we all know what happened to Patrick Swayze."
Bart had no idea who Patrick Swayze was, but his eyes began to well up immediately, all his hip 15-year-old bravado gone. "No...no...Aunt Sandra..."
"I'm throwing a party next weekend and I was wondering if you could DJ. Your mom says you're getting pretty good."
Bart broke down into tears. "What are you talking about? I...I can't..." He sobbed, choking on the smell of aging plants from her brownish yard.
His aunt got up from her plastic chair and went over to him, pulling his hunched body close to her. "It's okay, buddy. I've had a great life, really. I just want to go out in style."
She let him cry for another stretch before slapping him on the back and saying, "You can finish crying when you get home. This is my time now and I want to hear about what you did to your mom's car."
(To be continued...)