Compared to the air-conditioned building, the air outside was stifling, and I mont blanc fountain pens started to perspire immediately. The courtyard was empty, as always. Walking along the gravel path, I looked for the root that had caused Noah��s fall. It took a moment for discount mont blanc me to find it, at the base of a towering magnolia tree; it protruded across the path like a small snake stretching in the sun. The brackish pond reflected mont blanc signature pens the sky like a mirror, and for a moment I watched the clouds drifting slowly across the water. There was a faint odor of brine as I took my seat. mont blanc ballpoint pens The swan appeared from the shallows at the far end of the pond and drifted toward me.
I opened the loaf of Wonder Bread and tore the first piece into small mont blanc signature pens bits, the way Noah always did. Tossing the first piece into the water, I wondered whether he��d been telling the truth in the hospital. Had the swan stayed with him mont blanc outlet throughout his ordeal? I had no doubt he saw the swan when he regained consciousness��the nurse who found him could vouch for that��but had the swan watched over him the mont blanc outlet whole time? Impossible to know for sure, but in my heart I believed it.
I wasn��t willing, however, to make the leap that Noah had. The swan, I told myself, had mont blanc pens stayed because Noah fed and cared for it; it was more like a pet than a creature of the wild. It had nothing to do with Allie or her spirit. discount mont blanc I simply couldn��t bring myself to believe that such things could happen. The swan ignored the piece of bread I��d thrown to it; instead it simply watched me. Strange. mont blanc fountain pens When I tossed another piece, the swan glanced at it before swinging its head back in my direction.
��Eat,�� I said, ��I��ve got things to do.��
Beneath the surface, I could see mont blanc fountain pens the swan��s feet moving slowly, just enough to keep it in place.
��C��mon,�� I urged under my breath, ��you ate for me before.�� I threw a third piece into the water, discount mont blanc less than a few inches from where the swan floated. I heard the gentle tap as it hit the water. Again, the swan made no move toward it.
��Aren��t you hungry?�� mont blanc pens I asked.
Behind me, I heard the sprinklers come on, spurting air and water in a steady rhythm. I glanced over my shoulder toward Noah��s room, but the window only reflected mont blanc signature pens the sun��s glare. Wondering what else to do, I threw a fourth piece of bread without luck.
��He asked me to come here,�� I said.
The swan straightened its neck and ruffled mont blanc pens its wings. I suddenly realized that I was doing the same thing that provoked concern about Noah: talking to the swan and pretending it could understand me.
Pretending it was Allie?
Of mont blanc ballpoint pens course not, I thought, pushing the voice away. People talked to dogs and cats, they talked to plants, they sometimes screamed at sporting events on the television. Jane and Kate mont blanc fountain pens shouldn��t be so concerned, I decided. Noah spent hours here every day; if anything, they should worry if he didn��t talk to the swan. Then again, talking was one mont blanc signature pens thing. Believing it was Allie was another. And Noah truly believed it.
The pieces of bread that I��d thrown were gone now. Waterlogged, they��d dissolved and sunk beneath the surface, but mont blanc signature pens still the swan continued to watch me. I threw yet another piece, and when the swan made no move toward it, I glanced around to make sure that no one mont blanc pens else was watching. Why not? I finally decided, and with that, I leaned forward.
��He��s doing fine,�� I said. ��I saw him yesterday and talked to the doctor this morning. He��ll mont blanc ballpoint pens be here tomorrow.��
The swan seemed to contemplate my words, and a moment later, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise as the swan began to eat.
At mont blanc signature pens the hospital, I thought I��d entered the wrong room. In all my years with Noah, I��d never seen him watch television. Though he had one in his home, it mont blanc signature pens had been primarily for the children when they were young, and by the time I came into their lives, it was seldom turned on. Instead, most evenings were spent on mont blanc fountain pens the porch, where stories were told. Sometimes the family sang as Noah played guitar; other times they simply talked over the hum of crickets and cicadas. On cooler evenings, Noah mont blanc signature pens would light a fire and the family would do the same things in the living room. On other nights, each of them would simply curl up on the couch or mont blanc fountain pens in the rocking chairs to read. For hours, the only sounds were of pages turning as all escaped into a different world, albeit in proximity to one another.
It was a mont blanc fountain pens throwback to an earlier era, one that cherished family time above all, and I looked forward to those evenings. They reminded me of those nights with my father as he mont blanc outlet worked on his ships and made me realize that while television was regarded as a form of escape, there was nothing calming or peaceful about it. Noah had always mont blanc pens managed to avoid it. Until this morning. Pushing open the door, I was assaulted by the noise of the television. Noah was propped up in bed and staring at mont blanc signature pens the screen. In my hand were the items I��d brought with me from his desk.
��Hello, Noah,�� I said, but instead of responding with his usual greeting, he turned toward me mont blanc pens with a look of incredulity.