Summary:Alternate Universe story set in 2025. An elderly Lee Stetson reflects on his past and all he missed out on in his life.
Disclaimer:The main characters belong to Shoot the Moon and Warner Bros. Productions. The story is a product of my rather overactive imagination.
Lee Stetson reached for his glasses and knocked them onto the floor as usual. With a loud groan, he bent over painfully and picked them up.
Having secured his glasses on his face, he hobbled to the front door and stepped outside. "Damn paperboy," he muttered to himself, stooping over into the bushes to retrieve the morning paper.
At seventy-five years of age, he had no family and few friends. Old injuries made him act and look older than he was, and regrets made him wish every day that he would just die. Life had not been kind to Lee Stetson.
Not a single day, or hour for that matter, went by that he didn't think of Amanda King. What a fool he'd been not to seize moment and act on his feelings for her. She had left the Agency in 1990. They had had a terrible fight. He'd said things he regretted for the rest of his life. He never did see her again after that, his pride prevented him from going to her on his knees begging forgiveness.
Of course, they'd been fighting more and more. He took all his frustrations out on her, blamed her for things that were not entirely or not at all her fault and generally he'd been a real jerk. Instead of accepting his feelings for her and letting her influence him for the good, he had rebelled against them, rejecting them entirely.
He sat down after pouring himself a cup of black coffee, and opened the paper. Same old crap every day, he thought miserably. He missed his job. He'd worked his way up in the Agency and took over Billy's position when he died, and his condescension and sarcasm were a fair rival for the legendary Dr. Smyth. Working had been the only way he could keep his mind off Amanda.
Now he was retired, going about his days in a perfunctory manner: read the paper with coffee, walk to the Lincoln Memorial and back home to his senior apartment, take a nap, watch t.v., eat dinner, be in bed by nine where he would lay and think about Amanda until he fell asleep.
Sometimes he would drive by her old house on Maplewood Drive and just sit in his car until the neighbors asked him if he needed any help or if he was lost. The house had not been kept up, and some idiot had painted it a putrid green.
Lee turned to the obituaries. Once in a while he found a familiar name and wondered when his obituary would appear, or if one would even be written.
He moved his eyes down the column slowly, and came upon a name that made his eyes blur for the tears and his lonely old heart nearly stop beating for the instant stab of pain.
Amanda King of Arlington.
Lee slammed the paper down onto the table. In anger and grief he thrust it away from him onto the floor. His breathing labored, he stared into his coffee cup for an indeterminate amount of time.
Finally he reached down again and straightened the paper out, hoping his eyes had deceived him.
She had died two days prior. "Died of peacefully in her sleep of natural causes on Friday evening after a dinner with her family. Survived by sons Phillip and Jamie; daughters-in-law Julie and Rachel; grandchildren Heather, Michael, Jamie Jr., Joe and Mandy; great-grandchildren Phillip, Amy, Henry, Michael Jr. and Stacy."
The brief article went on to relate her many activities in the community, ending with the words, "You gave us so much, taught us so much. The world was a better place with you in it. We love you and will never forget you, Mom, Grandma, Nana."
Hot tears spilled out of Lee's eyes for the first time in seventy years. He sat at his kitchen table weeping, his haed in his hands, shoulders slumped and heaving in agony. He had loved her so desperately but had never had the courage to tell her so.
Two days later, wearing his only suit, Lee Stetson drove to the cemetary and watched the memorial service from afar. There were at least two hundred people present. Lee recognized Phillip and Jamie, standing side by side, their families with them. Amanda's family.
After everyone had left the graveside, and the gravediggers had replaced the distrubed ground, Lee approached slowly, reluctantly. Dropping to his knees, he traced her name on the headstone: Amanda West King, Beloved Mother, Grandmother and Friend.
She was really gone.
"I'm so sorry," Lee choked. "Oh, Amanda. I miss you more than you'll ever know. I love you. I'm so sorry I never told you."
He was still on his knees and crying when a gentle hand touched his shoulder. "I thought I saw you lurking back there in the trees," Francine said quietly.
Lee stood up slowly with the assistance of Francine. "I can't believe she's gone, Francine."
"I know. It seems like just yesterday that...I'm sorry, Lee. I know how you felt about her," Francine said sympathetically.
"Why didn't I tell her? All those years...we could have shared them together. And what have I got? Nothing," Lee spat the word out, his bitterness culminating in the pronunciation of one word.
"Do you want to get some coffee?" Francine asked, her hand on his arm.
"Yeah, just give me a minute here," Lee wiped at his eyes with a gnarled hand.
Francine walked away towards her car. Lee looked down again, taking in all the flowers. So many cheerful, colorful flowers. Flowers that reminded him of Amanda's cheerful, smiling face. Her indefeatable spirit. No wonder her family and friends had chosen such bright arrangements. They reflected the kind of person Amanda had been.
In his hand he held one long stemmed red rose. Laying it atop the stone marker, he whispered, "Goodbye, my love."
He joined Francine, who took his hand, and walked away from Amanda King one last time.
Two weeks later, Lee Stetson passed away in his sleep as he dreamed of what could have been.