The bottle was dark green, hexagonal in shape, and stood about 3.5 feet high. The words "Druggist, Skittville Drug Company" embossed on the front, "Poison" above and below the company name. The first time he saw it he was a grieving boy of 12; so much had changed since then.
Every single morning of his life, since his grandma gave it to him several years earlier, he looked at it; and even the most cursory glance reminded him of his grandma and the indelible impression she made on him.
It sat in the window sill at her home probably since a time before Paul was born, but he didn’t notice it until that fateful night back on October 7, 1984; the day his mom and dad died. his parents had left him home alone, something they did very seldom, but he had insisted on watching a special program on CBS about the Detroit Tiger’s spectacular season.
“We’ll be back before your show is over then,” his mom had said just before she kissed his forehead and started for the door. She turned around, he remembered, and said, “I love you, Paul. You’re the most special person in my life.” He remembered her staring at him with those big blue eyes, slightly glossy from the tears that were forming. “You’re growing up so fast,” she had said, “and you’ve more than earned the right to stay home alone.”
Paul had wanted to say, “I love you too, mommy.” But he thought maybe he was too old. Instead he said, “I can handle it mom. I am 12-years-old now.” She turned and slowly walked through the doorway to the car where her husband of 20 years had been waiting for her. Paul looked out the window and watched as the family mini-van moved down the street and out of sight.
He remembered the staying power of his mom’s perfume even after she had left; that perfume, of which, she only wore on special occasions. He wondered, though, why she had worn it this day, considering dad was only taking her to show a new apartment house he thought would be a good buy. Perhaps, she subconsciously new her fate.
The TV show ended and his parents still had not returned. He was fine by this at first, but when the 11-O-clock news came on he was tired and hungry. Instead of putting his pajamas on and going to bed, he paced the house, continuously going to the living room windows to look out. He kept seeing cars turning down his street, each time thinking his mom and dad were coming home, but they would drive right by the house.
Finally, at about midnight, when his eyes were burning and he was on the verge of tears, he saw headlights coming down the street, and, this time, the vehicle turned into the driveway. He left the window and rushed to his room to put his pajamas on and rushed back out to the front door. He was excited that his parents were home until he heard a knock at the door.
The officer told him the bad news, and drove the child Paul to his grandma’s house. He slept well that night on the back end of his grandparent’s bed, but the next day he moped around her house stressed and depressed about the loss of his parents. His grandma comforted him as best she could, yet he continued to have a hard time. He decided, finally, that he just wanted to be alone, so he went to his grandma’s library and shut the door. He sat on an old leather chair that faced the window and stared out as the sun descended and the day grew dark. He thought about all the moments he spent with his mom and dad and, finally, he cried.
After a long cry, he noticed, on the sill of the window before him, sat an odd shaped, dark green antique bottle from an old, old drugstore. He picked it up, twirled it round and round in his fingers studying it. He wondered, for the first time, what kind of drug had been in it, and how it had ended up in his grandma’s house. For a while anyway, it was that bottle which helped him to forget about the realities of his life for a while. He imagined that perhaps the bottle had been filled with a wizard’s magic potion that would cure him of his aches: and this gave him an idea.
He worked out the cork with the tips of his fingers, tipped back his head, lifted the bottle, and pretended to drink what was inside. “I don’t ever want to be sad again,” he said as he took in the imaginary draught. He set the bottle back on the sill and heard a knock on the door, a creak as it was slowly pushed open, and a soft, “Paul, are you okay.”
“I’m okay, grandma,” the boy whispered. “I’m going to be okay now.”
“You will be,” she whispered as she walked over to him and gave him a gigantic hug. He held him for quite some time before she said, “You’re parents loved you and always will be with you. Now it’s time to let them go.”
“I will,” he said.
“They are with grandpa now. They are in a special place.”
“I know. I understand.”
“Sometimes things are difficult to understand.”
“This might sound strange grandma,” he said, uneasily, still wrapped within his grandma’s loving hug, “but I understand everything. It IS going to be okay.”
He lived with his grandma from that day until he graduated and moved out of the house. He went to college, became a doctor, met the most amazing person and married her. His grandma thought it was the most wonderful wedding ever, and that Paul’s parents would have been proud.