Elijah Pitterman was a boy of seven. His sick mother was in the basement. He was only a child, after all. He did not know his father’s intent. Elijah Pitterman was only a little boy. Such a tiny whelp of a boy. Such an insignificant runt of a boy.
“Dad says it will make you better. Please, please get better for me, Mom.” His eyes were tearing like the rain. The storm raged outside on the windows. A deeper storm swelled in his heart. She took the bowl from her son. The soup had cooled like Matthew’s affections.
She was eating cold chicken noodle soup. Soup that should not have been cold. Soup that should not have been laced. Arsenic is a poor substitute for oregano. “So it goes, I suppose,” Matthew said. His newspaper was cold from the lawn. His slippers were warm, like his chair.
He had been feeding her soup daily. Both Elijah and his father fed her. Matthew prepared the meal; Elijah carried it. His mother, his wife, ate the soup. The arsenic had a taste to it. She could not put it in words. Still, her son loved her, she knew.
Seven days later, he found her alone. Alone on the floor in the basement. The spoon was still in the bowl. Half of the soup had been eaten. Her body was cold, like the soup. Her lifeless skin was pale and blue. “Mommy, Mommy, please wake up!” he said.
The funeral was cold like her headstone. The marker was dark, lonely, and marbled. It was filled with numbers and letters. Her name and dates chiseled into it. There was no truth in the granite. Elijah traced the letters and found nothing. Only the hollow remembrance of his mother.
The ride back was a lonely one. His father drove as he looked back. Rain beaded the grave and stone marker. He was hoping to catch a cold. Maybe then he could be with her. Maybe then he could find some relief. But there was none for Elijah Pitterman.