THE LAMONT HOME - PENELOPE'S BEDROOM
Burton," Penelope muttered, sounding even weaker than before.
"I...I don't think..."
"Ma, you're gonna be
okay! Just don't worry!" Burt bit his lip and he wondered how
he could convince her not to worry when he couldn't even convince himself.
"Now, just lie here and be still. I'm going downstairs and call the
Her breathing was raspy and she kept making several short gasps for air.
"T-there's not enough time."
Don't say that!" He knelt back down beside the bed and took her limp
hand into his. As he fought to keep his own hand from shaking in fear, he
noticed how thin and pale her skin looked. Though she was often not well,
he'd never seen her looking this bad before.
something I need to tell you." Penelope's eyelids fluttered slightly
and she took a deep breath before a loud cough tore from her chest.
"Ma, just be still.
Let me get you some water."
He ran to the large chest
across the room where she always kept a pitcher of water and carried it and a
glass back to her bedside and set it down on her nightstand. As he poured
the water into the glass, he couldn't keep his hands from shaking and spilling
small sloshes of water onto the bed.
Gently, he lifted his mother's
head so that she could reach the glass that he held in front of her and he
watched as she took several small sips to wet her throat. Suddenly, his
thoughts turned to his younger brother Randy. Where was Randy? While
Burt sat with their mother, Randy could call the hospital and have them send a
"Ma, where's Randy?"
he asked, trying to keep the urgent fear out of his voice.
"H-he went....went to
the...soda shoppe...to meet t-that
girl," she mumbled. "The one
he...took to t-the dance."
"Ma, please let me go
downstairs and call the doctor!" He clinched his teeth in
frustration. Why was she resisting him so much? Didn't she realize
how serious things were?
"B-Burton, there's no
use," she said as her eyes started to water. "I-It's...too
"No! Don't say
something...something I need...to tell you."
He looked at her with concern
and confusion. What in the world could she tell him at a time like
this? What was so important for him to know that he couldn't leave her to
call for help?
"Ma, what is it?"
"B-Burton, I'm...going to
"No! Don't say
that!" In spite of himself, he couldn't control the tears that were
building up in his eyes and they quickly started to overflow.
"Before I die, there's
something...something I have to tell you." Penelope paused and took a
long, deep, raspy breath. She looked even more weak and frail than before
and Burt knew that she didn't have much time.
"O-okay, Ma," he
muttered softly, trying to fight his overwhelming emotions.
"Okay. Tell me. What is it that I need to know?"
"B-Burton...I have lied
to you your entire life." She rolled her head away as if to hide her
embarrassment despite the circumstances. "I...I just can't go to...my
grave with...with that on my...conscience."
what?" What in the world could she be talking about? Had she
progressed so far that she was no longer in her right mind? Was she that
close to.... "Ma, just don't think about that now!"
have...to." Using all of the strength she could muster, Penelope
rolled her head back over and looked her son in the eyes. "I'm going
to die and...I have to tell you...the truth."