Title: Grandma's Tears
This story is part of the Glimpses of Ben Series.
The couple waited on the porch. The woman held a large, thick, multi-colored blanket in her lap. The man seemed shrunken and sat in his chair hardly moving. Neither spoke, yet they held each other's hand tightly. On the porch railing sat a young blond-haired man with glasses, a huge black bag at his feet.
A car engine could be heard approaching the cabin down the forest road. When the car pulled into sight, no one on the porch moved, though the woman's eyes filled with tears. As the car pulled to a stop the young blond-haired man moved down off the porch to open the passenger door. The young dark-haired man sitting in the front seat turned his head towards the open door with a look of vacancy in his eyes. His face was scruffy with an unkempt beard and his hair needed a good brushing. In his arms, he held a small boy tightly gathered to his chest. The boy's eyes were open, his gaze firmly locked on the man who was holding him so tightly.
The driver of the car ran around the front to stand near the open door. He smiled nervously at the man seated in the vehicle. "Robert, we're here now. Let's take young Ben inside."
"You're right the boy needs to be put to bed." The man addressed as Robert easily eased himself and the boy out of the car. He paid no attention to the blond-haired man but walked steadily up the cabin steps.
Holding the blanket open towards the boy, the woman wrapped it around him tenderly. The boy never turned his head in her direction; his eyes remained riveted on the man carrying him. The woman tried to lift the child out of the man's arms, but the man held his arms around the child like vices and the boy seemed to snuggle in closer to man.
"Robert, take Ben into the house and put him to bed. Your mother and I will be inside in a few moments. Ok, Boy." The dark-haired man said as he leaned back on the chair he had just risen out of which he had just risen.
The man called Robert nodded vaguely and entered the cabin. The sounds of his footsteps could be heard crossing the cabin floor, then faded away.
The man, who had driven the car, stepped in next to the woman and gave her a quick hug. He cleared his voice nervously, "Robert's afraid he's going to lose Ben too. He's more frightened than I have ever seen him." He choked back the tight feeling in his throat. "Young Ben won't talk, won't move. He just sits staring off into space. Wherever you put him, he stays. It's like he's a little doll, I think if you set him on his head he'd stay in that position till you moved him."
Listening intently the blond-haired man stepped forward with his black bag in his hands. "How long have they been this way?"
The woman put her hand out, "This is the Dr. Jacobs, Buck. He's the only one for 200 miles, but he's young and fresh from Toronto."
"I see," Buck said quietly. "Ben's been like this since Caroline died. Robert thought at first that it would just fade away. But he's really scared now. He's scared." Buck turned towards the woman, "Robert's afraid he's going to lose the boy too."
"Let's not stand out here, Martha." The woman's husband led the way into the cabin's interior. He held the door open until the three people entered the cabin with him.
Dr. Jacobs laid his black bag down on the table and took out a small bottle of powder. He went over to Martha quietly. "Would you make your son and grandson some soup? I can put this medication in it and they'll at least be able to sleep."
Martha Fraser quietly began putting some soap on to heat. Anything she thought was better standing around. Her son was 27 and a widower, her grandson just 6 and now with no mother. Her heart felt heavy inside her chest. She was amazed she could even breathe so tightly the weight of grief filled her.
It wasn't long before the soup was hot and in two large, different colored cups on the table. Dr. Jacobs calmly measured out two different doses of medicine into the cups. He pointed out which one was intended for the boy and moved away.
Martha placed the cups on a tray and gave the three men standing in her kitchen a solemn look before she headed down to the guest room where she knew Robert was. She knocked on the door and entered without waiting for an answer.
Robert Fraser, 27, widower of Caroline Fraser sat on the guest bed holding his small, 6-year-old son. His face was drawn and gray beneath his shaky new growth of beard. But his eyes were focused solely on his little boy's face.
Benton Fraser, 6-year-old son of Robert and Caroline Fraser lay unmoving in his father's tight grasp. His breathing was steady, but his eyes didn't blink, and his body was limp. He wasn't aware that his father held him perhaps a little too tightly. He wasn't aware that he wasn't in his own home. He wasn't aware that his grandmother stood crying next to his father. He couldn't move, he daren't move. If he moved it would all be real. If he moved his mother would be dead. If he moved, he would see all that blood again. If he stayed as he was, he could forget his father finding him covered in her blood, his little hand held tightly in her death grip. Moving would mean seeing it all again, moving would mean he could be seen. Moving would mean the man might come back and find him. So he lay there secure in his father's arms and didn't move. His mother had asked him to be still, not to talk. He would do as his mother asked.
Setting the tray down, Martha gently put a hand on her son's arm. "I brought you and the boy some soup. Help me get him to drink some."
Robert looked into his mother's eyes and nodded. Ever so gently he raised Ben up until his little curly head relaxed against his shoulder. Martha watched the boy intently and noted he didn't move a muscle. Martha held the cup so that Robert could reach the spoon easily. He ladled some soup onto the spoon and gently set it against Ben's pale lips. The boy didn't open his mouth, didn't even blink. Helplessly Robert looked up at his mother.
Gently she put a hand on the little boy's chin and pulled ever so slightly down. Like a little bird, the little pale lips separated just enough for Robert to slide in a little soup.
After fighting to get 10 spoonfuls down the boy, Martha watched the little eyes begin to close. She could see the boy fighting it, and laid her hand on his hair. She hummed to him as he finally began falling asleep. She sighed and turned to see her son's face begin to show some signs of relaxing as he gently lay the boy down and covered him with the thick comforter.
Martha lifted the other bowl of soup up and nodded to him to drink. "Please Robert, drink it. For Benton, please drink some soup."
Raising the soup bowl to his lips he took a small sip. "Tastes better than the last batch you made mother."
She gave him a sad smile before kissing him on the forehead. "Lie down with Ben and get some rest. Please."
He drained the cup and moved around the bed to climb under the covers with Ben. He never even noticed his mother didn't ask him to take his boots off.