"Listen carefully," she said, "this won't be easy for you to hear."
I could hardly understand her with the pillows all around and the sleeping pill muffling her voice.
"Not easy? Go ahead and spill it. I can take anything." In my bravado I forgot that I was human and as such could be brought to my knees at any time. Most people forget that they are a sentence away from losing it. It only takes a few words and a person can be crushed.
"I never slept with your father. All those years it was just for convenience. He had a rare malady that gave him a tiny little penis. He told me right in the beginning that I would have to find sex someplace else. So I did. "
Speechless for a few minutes, I took it all in. "Then who was my father?" That was the logical question. This old woman before me had never been forthcoming about our family tree and now I knew why. I guess she wanted to clear the air before she passed away. But really she just had the flu. She was going to be fine. I wondered how she would feel once she had told me this but now I was curious.
"Was it Uncle James?" I could see the resemblance now. All these years he had been close to us all and me especially. It must have been him and he was still alive so we could enjoy this truth together.
"No, not James. At least I don't think so. " Mother smiled. For the first time in my life I saw her take some pleasure in something. "There were many possibilities. Once I knew your father would pay the bills and be my husband in society I went a little wild. I met people in bars and went home with them. I did the neighbor and you know that little grocery clerk who worked at Foreman's Deli for so long. It could have been him. He's gone now."
She got a far away look in her eyes and then they closed so peacefully. She was sound asleep finally and I wondered if she would remember what she had just told me. I hoped not.