Can I Tell You a Bit About Todd?

Can I Tell You a Bit About Todd?

He’s in the study—that’s where I keep him. Doesn’t cause any trouble, and he hadn’t caused any trouble before. Makes no sense to me why you’d have to take him away—but it’s not my decision, is it?

We’d just moved in, you know, when it happened. I’d been combing over listings, comparing prices, amenities, photos. Todd said—he was driving us in the pickup—”you know, you’re going to an awful lot of trouble just to please me.”

“I’m gonna snap your neck and kill us both,” I said. “What do you mean, please you?”

“That’s right,” he said, with the stupid Todd grin. “I’m serious. You’re looking extra hard just for me, and I appreciate the, um, overtime.”

I was going to lay in on him about it, tell him that if he wanted to move closer to his kids he could look for the place himself—but then I caught that he was teasing me, as he always teased me, with his big, dumb smile.

“Overtime, huh?”

“Billable hours,” he said, and the truck hummed on.

This is that very house—I ended up finding it after all. Only took a thousand billable hours. Todd still hasn’t signed the check.

I’m just trying to be funny. I’m not doing such a good job.

Todd was the takes-long-walks-in-forests type. He’d drive out to Lambridge and walk for hours. When I caught him here, he would sit on the porch, watching, paying no close mind to anything in particular. And I’d watch him right back, though he never knew that.

Please don’t rush me. Let me talk about Todd a bit more, okay?

Todd was my third love. I’ve had time to mull over this whole love thing, so I can say he was my third love. My first love thought I didn’t need to go to college. That it was selfish. My second love—I don’t think he knew what I actually wanted. You can tell someone you love them all you want. They can hide it behind empty glances or long weekends out of town or bottles of beer and you wouldn’t know—unless you wanted to, which I did.

They weren’t worth preserving.

But Todd. He didn’t care what I did. In fact, he would deliriously say, “you have to go to college, you have to go to college,” even though at that time we were dating I was already thirty-eight.

And I ended up doing just that. Got an associate’s.

Todd used to kiss me on the forehead when he woke up in the morning. Glass of water with my pills before I could even sit up. Mini-pies from the Heritage’s if I was lucky.

I don’t know if you’ve had to get rid of someone that you’ve loved. You’re young. Maybe they let you have your grandpa. I came of age in a mournful time. Can you tell? Folks understood what people needed when it came to, well, you know.

Did you think they’d pass the Motion? Did you support it?

Can I tell you a bit more about Todd?

We lived in a small townhouse for about ten years. It was a place we could afford, him after his divorce and me struggling to find a job at forty. Eventually we made it work, and we could’ve left. But we chose not to. It didn’t have all my memories—it wasn’t one of those houses. I’d left that kind of house a long while back, in a different life. That townhouse was mine with Todd alone.

We were settled. But Ben and Luna from his first marriage came back into his life (they forgave him for leaving, perhaps—or maybe they stopped listening to their mother about the kind of woman I am). And you know with two sets of grandchildren—that’s a lot of new love. We were off to our first new house.

I think I had a movie on one night. We were both covered in dry paint, splattered on tattered jeans. And he said, “I love you, Maybell, even if you think I’m a pain in the ass.”

“You’re my pain in the ass,” I said.

The next morning he took a walk in Lambridge and he fell and hit his head on a stump and didn’t think it’d cause a ruptured aneurysm and thought it’d all be fine.

We’d just moved in. That was years ago.

Can you understand why I did it?

Ben and Luna didn’t. They stopped talking to me again. Now they’re both ten and twenty minutes away respectively. I have fully grown grandchildren I will never see again.

That’s fine, if you ask me.

A lot of people—not just me—signed up for the treatment, too, as you very well know. The Love Preserver was a good company. I’ve never felt a company cared more about needs.

“You know what people need?” Todd asked me once. And I knew what he was going to say because he’d said it a dozen times before. But I let him say it because I was always selfish for the way he said things. “People need people.”

It was stupid, but that was Todd for you. Just think about that before you carry him off, okay? I know it’s not your fault.

I wish I’d known there’d be a recall.

Though I guess I would’ve done it anyway.

Do you—have to take him? He looks so good in his chair. I like to freshen his hair every morning—a little spritz of water clears the dust.

You can close his eyes and pretend he’s just sleeping. Doesn’t cause any trouble.

Please don’t take him.

God, please.

Don’t you realize that people need people?

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