McWeeks spent his final few trips around the carousel regretting having met all the women who now regretted meeting him. Well, not all were still resentful. Some were dead. One was in another nursing facility on the other side of town, comatose, being fed through a tube. He didn’t know this, of course. She had been just one of many bad decisions in his life, a drain on his valuable time. He invested years and received nothing in the way of dividends. One after another, each interest failed him, like the floors of a dynamited building. Now he was disgusted with everything, from the television his roommate insisted on watching to the food arriving on cafeteria trays. Tapioca? Take it away.
Spring arrived just as his little train was nearing the station. Television now sent baseball ricocheting off the walls, while the kitchen tried to hasten his demise via some organically grown vegetable medley. But the sapling planted twelve feet from his window the previous year struggled back into life, leaves popping open and the slender trunk straining against its wrapping. A nest had appeared on a bare branch and a drab little bird occupied it. McWeeks asked a nurse what type and got, “Just a grungy brown thing” in reply. Another genius, she was.
The bird kept her station, and the puny tree helped by producing overhanging foliage to stymie circling hawks. Soon, grungy brown bird was busy feeding an indeterminate number of chicks. He watched for hours: The tree, the birds, the chicks. He was pulling for them all. He was pulling for spring.
About the Author: The work of Robert L. Penick has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and The California Quarterly. He lives in Louisville, KY, USA, with his free-range box turtle, Sheldon, and edits Ristau, a tiny literary annual. More of his writing can be found here